Could Video Games Teach Us To Be Musicians?

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With all the musical titles available on all game consoles, it is likely that you’ve given music a go through the medium of video games, be it from uncoordinatedly failing on Guitar Hero to a very out of tune rendition of your favorite song on Singstar.

Although video games have been scientifically proven to help excel in many areas, with it sometimes being used specifically as a learning tool, it leaves the question; can my Xbox make me into the next big pop star?

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For this piece, we won’t consider the dance games, mainly because they are awful, but also due to the fact that dancing is not a requirement of a musician; it helps, but is not a requirement. To begin we’ll discuss a staple for a musical artist, the singing. Most, in the privacy of their own home, probably consider themselves quite the singer, however when put into the bright lights of the karaoke set, tragically crumble. However with the vast number of singing based game which have been released, on nearly all consoles, the humble karaoke machine has been made redundant. But do these games help our singing, the answer; no. The reality is, these games are merely glorified Karaoke machines, which due to a clever marketing team, has got you needing a $300 console to play it on. The likes of Singstar and Singit, despite their misleading titles, require no singing ability, just the ability to read lyrics as they are thrown across the screen. With no actual tutorials or guides, they are utter duds in the teaching department.

 

Even though it has become less apparent in our current musical climate, instruments were once a big part of a musicians career, take for example the likes of Jimi Hendrix, who honestly, would not have had a career without his guitar ability. It is for this reason, that the video game industry seized the opportunity, releasing our first video game instruments via the form of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. At the touch, these games have all the elements of a real guitar, however, as far as game play is concerned, it could not be more different. Both titles require the user, to strum a single plastic string while hitting buttons featured on the fret board, while certain aspects such as finger dexterity and coordination could be transferred to a real guitar, overall it doesn’t compare.

 

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As much fun as these games can be, they bring very little to improving musical ability, thankfully the same cannot be said about Ubisoft’s latest rhythmic adventure, RockSmith. The primary goal of this game; to teach the player to play guitar, while using a real guitar! The game requires users to attach their own guitar to the game, from there, through the use of several fun mini-games the user is subconsciously taught to play the guitar. The assuming thoughts following this game, would be that it had revolutionised the way we learn the guitar, however you would be dearly wrong. The game has seen minimum success, due to its educational nature and the general laziness of the gaming community.

Have we entered an era where we could insert a game into our games console and develop our musical talents from there? No, not yet. But if the launch of RockSmith is any indication of what is to come, I see nothing but musically blue skies.

Jamal Asskoumi – Blogger, Journalist, Video Game Addict and Music Lover

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