Rocksmith – Revolution for the electric guitar?
I played different Console games, but none of the “Hero” games appealed to me. I was not a DJ Hero, or Guitar Hero. The only instrument I ever learned to play on was the Piano, and although my brother became a very skilled musician on a number of instruments, and I tried dabbling a bit here and there I was never dragged into being a Guitarist. Guitar Hero is a “Party Game”, good when challenging your finger dexterity but nothing else. You would never learn to play the guitar with it, it was pure fun and entertainment. That view changed somewhat, today. Here I was, prowling through the internet and suddenly one of “those” ads showed up. The sort that stop you from watching your clip on youtube. I moved my mouse, ready to skip it when I realised that I was looking at electric guitars being prepared to be play some rock tune. I held my hand back and decide to watch it through. To my astonishment it was not just a tricky Guitar Hero commercial but something completely different, something called Rocksmith.
Rocksmith is “like” Guitar Hero in only one sense, it’s for the console (and then, not only). Other than that? You need your own guitar. The idea is that Rocksmith is not only a game to have fun on but also to teach you. It can teach you your basic riffs, get you accustomed to its interface, while also showing actual footage of how you should play on the guitar, tune it and the game will steadily introduce you to new “tricks”, as you practice and complete new challenges.
Then, while playing a song as a beginner the game will “ease you” into, at first, playing single notes, and then entire songs. In other words, it looks and sounds like a guitar teacher, without having to spend a lot of money and time on traveling there and back with your guitar. On one hand, this does seem like a perfect opportunity for the “people of today” to learn how to play on the guitar on their own, but as always there is the other side of the coin.
See, both me and my brother were taught to play on different instruments. We would not only watch others play an instrument but an experienced teacher would help us learn a few tricks. Most importantly perhaps we learned how to read notes. This is not something that Rocksmith does. You learn to play the guitar, without learning something very basic and in a way essential. We might argue here that somebody who plays the guitar for fun does not have learn everything, but how will you learn a song that will not be available on Rocksmith? Even the ability to “repeat” what others are playing comes from experience, and if you do not have the notes you might be completely stuck.
I would say that a Rocksmith is a jump forward in this type of console games, especially if you want to motivate people to learn the electric or bass guitar. However you should not assume that it’s the only necessary step. You will have to abandon these humble first steps, if you will want to progress further. I do not know of any guitarist who wouldn’t know how to write down what he/she was playing, to recreate it later.
In Rocksmith’s defense, it is coming out not only for the X-Box and Play Station 3, but also for the PC. In other words, it will be available to everybody. It is a very intriguing idea and I hope young guitarists will reach out for this new learning method, as long as they are not “lost” in it. Becoming an actual guitarist is far more challenging than beating a game, even if the game is challenging. Meanwhile, Rock on!
Alex “WriterX” Bielski