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Guitar Hero: Can it Make you a Better Guitarist?

Published: Sun July 27, 2008  News Feed

In homes across the world, young and old are picking up toy guitars and shredding as though a musical doomsday approaches. Devil horns fly up from audiences planted on couches and recliners, cheering on faux rocker gods who wail on their artificial axes with enough rhythm-driven precision to slay the nerve-wracking notes of Guitar Hero.

For about £65, you can bypass the blood, sweat and tears and climb that stairway to rocker heaven in the comfort of your own home. Challenging people to play their way through well-known rock songs, the Guitar Hero video game series has become a pop culture icon during its brief existence. Testifying to its sometimes maniacal following, Guitar Hero sales topped $1 billion worldwide in early 2008 .

Although Guitar Hero co-founder Charles Huang describes his vision for it as a "casual game for the masses," diehards consider it nothing less than a serious pursuit of musical mastery. What else could explain the millions of YouTube hits Guitar Hero stars have racked up?

Perhaps more telling is the broad ­span of groupies the game has attracted. Along with the hardcore gamers, Guitar Hero players come from the every other stereotypical group as well: preps, hipsters, punks, squares, nerds, both male and female.­­

Musicians Shafted?

There's no denying that Activision, RedOctane and Harmonix have been making money hand over fist. All involved are thrilled to have taken part in this very successful venture, right? Wrong. The little people, the studio musicians responsible for Guitar Hero's cover versions, are crying foul, unable to take part in the high-class hooker and champagne parties that assuredly everyone from QA tester to producer to CEO are enjoying on a regular basis. They've been financially "left in the dust" writes free paper Metro and may be the forgotten, abused cogs in the new "creative sweatshop" machine.


Can it Make you a Better Guitarist?

This is the important question - can you justify the purchase of a £65 video game (including controller) with the guise of improving your skills as a guitarist? If you're expecting Guitar Hero II to improve your technical guitar skills, you'll be disappointed. Although using the controller does an admirable job of replicating the act of playing guitar for non-guitarists, the physical movements involved with playing Guitar Hero II are very different than those used for playing real guitar.

Where some novice guitar players may benefit from Guitar Hero II is through a required attention to rhythmic detail. Most songs involve quirky rhythmic figures that, in order to successfully complete, need to be learned. In many cases, younger guitarists have trouble internalizing some of the rhythmic aspects of playing guitar, and in these situations, Guitar Hero II may indeed help them grow as a musician.

Additionally, Guitar Hero II may help newer guitarists conquer the challenge of playing songs with multiple parts. As songs progress from verse, to bridge, to chorus, etc., the guitar parts often change dramatically. These different sections usually require some preparation to be able to move smoothly from part to part. Traditionally, newer guitarists have trouble playing songs that involve multiple transitions from part to part - they get too wrapped up with what they're playing now, and can't think about what's going to happen in four bars. Guitar Hero II may help these guitarists learn to look ahead, and anticipate changes in the music.

The benefits to guitarists aside, hard rock fans will find a whole lot to love about Guitar Hero II - it's air guitar brought to a whole new level.

Guitar Hero Related Products

Use these links to find the best deal on Guitar Hero products from GAME, hmv, & play.com 

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