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Friday, January 20, 2012

A Defense for Rocksmith

If you're even remotely curious about this Rockmith thing, check out any of the thousands of Rocksmith videos posted on YouTube. Most of these are just Rocksmith players posting vids of themselves playing Rocksmith - some better than others, but that really shows you how versatile this "game" is.

I don't really like to call Rocksmith a "game," which is why I almost always put the word in quotation marks. But, I have to admit that one of the biggest attractions for me is the points. Not because I plan to post my scores for comparison with other people's but because the score gives me a benchmark to beat. Sort of what they say about golf - you aren't playing against other golfers so much as the course itself. The built-in threshold of 70,000 points is sort of my minimum standard and I keep track of how many times I have to play a new song before I get to that level. Then, when I go back to rehearse songs I've already learned, the 70,000 mark is my minimum; if I don't make it, I play it again. And again. And again. I practice Rocksmith the way the coach of the 1984 US Olympic hockey team practiced hockey. There is definitely a "game" aspect to it.

I get a little irritated at the commenters on YouTube who bad-mouth Rocksmith. Most don't offer any concrete criticism - just vague assertions that "you'll never learn to play guitar this way," or "they're teaching it all wrong," etc. And, there are dozens of insecure little pricks who insist that the only way to learn to play the guitar is simply to pick up a guitar and start playing it. As if. I've owned a guitar for over 30 years. If I were going to learn to play a guitar well by simply "noodling," I'd be at least as good as Stevie Vai by now. It just doesn't work that way for some of us. For us, there's Rocksmith. Which rocks.

It's funny to see people who have undoubtedly spent years learning to play get so defensive about Rocksmith. As though they're afraid Rocksmith will spawn thousands of better guitar players. . . But, I'm sympathetic. I used to say the same sort of stuff about Windows. I spent a good bit of time learning DOS, so when Windows came out I pooh-poohed it as a wuss interface for people who couldn't use a computer. If Rocksmith is the "wuss interface for people who can't play guitar," so be it. It's fun. And, you'll learn to play in spite of yourself. Unlike Windows which you can use from now 'til doomsday without learning a thing about how your computer really works. Play Rocksmith for even an hour and you're going to learn something. Will you be Stevie Ray Vaughn reincarnate? Probably not. But, the more you play, the more you'll learn.

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