Guitar Hero and Rock Band… how I hate thee, let me count the ways

Well I guess I might  be getting old after all. I just can’t get these new-fangled video game thingies! I’d better just stick to Connect Four and paddle ball…

If you believed that, congratulations! You are now an encephalitic piece of retard fuck. Now onto the hating.

When I was a kid entertainment was the stuff of daydreams. My dad was such a mental piece of shit, video games, rock music, musicals, comics, and the Sony Walkman was verboten in my household. I wasn’t even allowed to SAY any of the before mentioned, lest I go deaf from his screaming or hang myself in the closet after his three-hour lectures on hearing loss, a stilted IQ, and how I will end up a dead, heroin-addicted, AIDS-ridden streetwalker if I even considered acting outside of my elementary school’s Nativity play. From this I learned two things:

1) A deep appreciation of classical music.

2) The definition of the term “hypocritical bastard”.

Up until the ’02 Winter Olys I really enjoyed watching the Winter Games, and by that I mean figure skating and hockey. I can go back as far as Calgary ’88. I was so mesmerized by Katarina Witt’s arrogantly sensual Carmen and teenybopping with the G&G fan club, my fat brainwashed ass failed to realize that while Dad ogled everything in shimmering spandex he was singing along- and in tune- to all the Broadway show tunes. On the bottom shelf of the stereo system was a library of LPs, 45s, and cassettes of every ’60s and ’70s pop and rock group. There was a PBS Fred Astaire Marathon on the same tape as a Debbie Does Dallas bootleg. Every month Dad blew some cash at Radio Shack on some new gadget that blinked and whirred. For Christmas ’89 I got Tim Burton’s Batman that I really couldn’t enjoy since Dad wouldn’t shut fucking up telling me and Mom Batsy’s life story.

Anybody picking up a theme here?

Well li’l bro’s birth all changed that… eight years after it, I mean. I screamed, cried, pleaded, and threatened to jump off the roof for a Game Boy, Dad countered it informing me how my entrance exam and interview performances for NYU could be hindered by Tetris. I would like to inform you that despite my GPA I have wasted eight years in CUNY and am currently an unmatriculated LIU student. I would’ve never got into NYU since Dad decided that work was too difficult for him back in ’91. But for my (then) 8-year-old brother all it took was driving my poor mother insane, convinced that the jungle gym and the subway’s hand rails were the same thing for her to break down and buy him one of those cheap-ass Acclaim hand-held video games. I think his first one was from the Tom and Jerry Movie, and it took off from there.

He had every Game Boy incarnation and every Nintendo console save for the first NES system. Today he prizes his Wii and PS3 over anything else he owns. But because of him I was allowed a taste of that rainbow pixelated goodness I was denied for so long. And I kick ass… at Tetris. No, I’m not that fucking pathetic! I’m also pretty damn good at a lot of the fighting games- particularly anything Anime related. I own a Game Cube, Action Replay, all four of the Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen, the Bleach GC: Tasogare ni Mamieru Shinigami, a Wii, Oneechambara, a God of war PSP, a DS with a fully-loaded R4, one of the Naruto PSP games, and two Naruto Wii games (my manga and graphic novel collection’s too big to list). The stuff of Dad’s nightmares… but we kicked him out back in ’05.

But the one thing that bites my ass harder than Soulcalibur (my best friend designed a character that looks like the gayest stripper in a pink g-string with jingling gold hula hoops for primary weapons) was Guitar Hero.

WHAT THE FUCK?!

I thought US-based karaoke taught you motherfuckers that it’s to be enjoyed by drunks on a dare only? Apparently GH made its debut back in ’98 but the instrument controllers- oh wait! peripherals– made it king of the shit pile in the last four years or so. Now as I understand it you can play DDR either with the  sensor pad or your controller, now being the old fuck I am I can remember clandestinely playing racing games with my cousin on his Super NES sensor pad, so the DDR sensor pad makes sense. And if you don’t want to spend the money or just don’t have the room to jump around imitating a gooney bird on crack, then by all means use the controller. But the object of DDR is to beat the AI by matching the graphic’s steps by hitting the correct color and arrow. DDR improves coordination and sharpens reflexes (not to mention burns off those extra calories), and even though you’ll look like a reject from So You Think You Can Dance? anybody could beat this game with a little patience.

However I think that GH and now Rock Band are doing more harm than good. It’s setting people (especially kids) up with the sense of false accomplishment. Remember the Simpsons ep with Spinal Tap? Remember how Bart begged for a guitar, struggled, let Otto Mans (now that’s a rock star bum if I ever saw one) jam on it and eventually toss it to the side like kids usually do when shiny things lose their luster or because they have to –LE GASP!– practice. I know a couple of musicians who play the guitar, and when I asked them their opinions on GH they both had the same reaction, shaking their heads and laughing. Now they have no problem with gaming, they’re both guys and they game, but they have also been working at their art since childhood and they take playing very seriously.

Everybody fantasizes about going up on stage and pretending they’re Joan Jett or Pete Townshend (never heard of them? look ’em up, and don’t expect them to be members of Crack 5 or the Pussy Whores), and that’s fine. But if you CAN’T sing, CAN’T play bass or guitar, and CAN’T do a cymbal crash to save your assed-out life, then you might have a future in professional rim jobbing or macramé. The point is, some corporate scum nut in a $3 grand Italian suit can’t hand you a $40 piece of hollow plastic with colored buttons that resembles your fantasy guitar to the point that it looks like a slightly larger version of a toy ukulele and say, “Try this kiddo! You’ll be the star of the next G3!” So you’ll drag your lard ass up to the stage thinking you look so cool in sunglasses in front of a giant LCD screen that’s giving people grand mal seizures so you can do the Axl’ Rose Walk pressing away to Plaster Caster?

And now they’re pitching a GH reality show and world tour. When the bottom dropped out of the economy I was pretty sure that it would be the message the corporations would finally get that they’d have to stop fucking around and putting out so much shit that people just couldn’t keep up with their necessities… I guess not.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention in my last post what my BIGGEST gripe about the CSI assfuckery: they ruined The Who.

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