I was very dubious when I saw the advent of such games as Rock Band and Guitar Hero. My thinking was, “Here is a way for people with no talent or discipline to indulge their fantasies of being rock stars.” This point of view was enforced by my utter lack of ability on any such games.
Now, however, as I walk by my neighbor’s house in the evenings and hear the Xbox-generated music blaring from their living room, I have taken a completely opposite point of view. The mass appeal of these games has actually done a great many positive things that I overlooked in my initial take. First of all, they have awakened an interest in a lot of great music that would otherwise be overlooked by the younger generation, songs from my generation and before that were sadly falling towards obscurity. Also, the games have reawakened an interest in music as an art form and avocation. The time people young and old alike spend belting out “Freebird” or “Carry On My Wayward Son” builds that flicker of interest that, in many cases, is growing into a flame of desire for the real thing. I’ve heard many, many people tell me how they either received musical instruments or are considering buying them after building their confidence through video games. Not all of these Keith-Richardses-in-training will stick to the real instruments, but even a few more would be a great thing.
Now, if somebody would only invent a video game for writing novels like they have for playing rock and roll. Sure, we have National Novel Writing Month, but frankly the graphics on that suck and you can’t unlock bonus stories by posting a high score. Maybe they’ll work on that for next year.