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17th November
2009
written by Tom Banaszewski

Thanks to Mr. Glascock for posting this article to his blog. With the success of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, plans are underway to perhaps develop a video game that extends the range of virtual instruments to include the French horn and the flute. This is all speculation, but if you read the comments on the article many people have strong feelings about this. I’ve yet to dive into Guitar Hero, mostly because I don’t find much appeal in repeating a sequence of colored dots on the screen. I love the music. Maybe it’s my red-green color blindness that’s make this less fun.

When Guitar Hero first hit the stores, I asked my students who where investing hours in it if it helped them learn to play the guitar. They said no and that cemented my decision to not pursue playing it. My logic was very weak. I love playing MLB The Show. It does nothing to improve my actual on-field hand-eye hitting coordination. At a stretch, it may remind me to always check the bases and know ahead of time where to throw the ball when it’s hit. I still play. Many hours. So, the question is do you play a game to learn anything? Or in the case of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, is the virtual experience of rocking out to a virtual version of Aerosmith anywhere near as rewarding as just listening to the original song.

I think the key part of the argument is that Guitar Hero involves me in the music in a way that is perhaps more engaging than just listening to it. Okay, it’s nothing like going to a live concert at the old Boston Garden, but if you’ve never heard Steven Tyler belt out a ballad, games like Rock Band open the door for you. If Orchestra Hero can open the door to hundreds of young minds to hundreds of years of amazing classical music then the video game has gained a feather in its cap.

Still I wonder if the simulated experience of a game like Orchestra Hero hinders a real appreciation of the music. For someone like myself who has only a few months of piano lessons as his entire performing musical education, I think I’d enjoy the opportunity to try out a few horn sections of a classical symphony. How do we cultivate a real appreciation for music so that gamers do not feel that Guitar Hero is a substitute for the real thing? I wonder what students think of the idea of Orchestra Hero.


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