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Monday, June 16, 2008

While the rest of them dudes were getting their kicks

Over the weekend, I finally got around to playing something that has brought much joy to people that own it and pure annoyance to those who have it set up in their job's breakroom: Rock Band. Yes, the one and only game (so far) that allows you to play not only guitar, but sing and play drums to original songs. As much as I had trepidation towards this game, along with Guitar Hero, I figured out why I like playing these games even though playing real instruments in a real band is far more rewarding.

Like a lot of drummers, I learned to play the drums by tapping along to songs I listened to. Be it my index and middle fingers hitting my thumb on the beat, my foot tapping the floor to the beat, or just flat-out air-drumming to thin air, this was my preferred method over traditional drum lessons. With Rock Band, it's a step up from tapping along and a great way to introduce people to play actual drums.

The configuration of the drumpad is rather odd though: hitting the hi-hat and snare is like hitting a hi-hat and a secondary snare drum on a real kit. Meaning, the left hand hits the snare to the left of the hi-hat, not to the right. Plus, hitting a cymbal is like hitting a china cymbal set up to the far right of a real kit. Still, I was hooked on the game and played it for a couple of hours. (I especially dug the parts where you could play any kind of fill you wanted. It was quite fun to play Dillinger Escape Plan beats on certain parts in "Mississippi Queen.")

Rock Band and Guitar Hero may be addicting games (and incredibly fun at parties), but there is nothing else like playing live in a real band. When a band really gels, the experience is incredible. When a band isn't really a band and there's never-ending drama, it can be incredibly draining. Since I've had both kinds of experiences, I can safely say these video games make for a lot of worthwhile entertainment, but there is so much to be gained in life doing the real thing.

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