Not in the virtual world of video games anyway. It’s probably safe to say that neither of the two real-life guitar heroes have spent much quality time with either of the two wildly popular music-themed video games “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.” In fact, both Page and White recently shared their thoughts about the new genre of games.
“It’s depressing to have a label come and tell you that [Guitar Hero] is how kids are learning about music and experiencing music," said White. "If you [the artist] have to be in a video game to get in front of them, that’s a little sad.”
Page also added his two cents, saying, “You think of the drum part that John Bonham did on Led Zeppelin’s first track on the first album, ‘Good Times Bad Times’," he said. "How many drummers in the world can play that part, let alone on Christmas morning?”
Kind of hard to argue with that one. That particular Zeppelin song has been a favorite of mine for years, and surely takes a drummer with a quick foot and great sense of timing to pull it off properly.
I’ve mostly considered the popularity of these games as a good thing, since they seem to have been instrumental (I’m not even going to say it) in introducing a younger generation of fans to some great classic rock music, and I dare say that some of them have become fans as a result.
For the kids who don’t have any plans to actually learn how to play an instrument, and that’s probably the majority of them, it seems there would be little harm in allowing them to have a little fun pretending to be a rock star. It is a bit discouraging to think that it could sway someone who has some interest in learning a real instrument away from the hard work and time that’s necessary and taking the easy way out with a fake guitar and a video game.
I suspect, however, that the young people who are really passionate about playing will not have their goals derailed by the existence of a video game. Think about how many other kinds of video games are there out there for a moment. Will there be fewer future NASCAR drivers because of “NASCAR Kart Racing” or fewer aspiring car thieves because of “Grand Theft Auto?” Now, that would be something, but I don’t think these games have the dampening effect on the aspirations of young people that others seem to.
Although I can see the point that Jack White and Jimmy Page are trying to make, I don’t think these new games are having as negative an impact as they suggest. I can honestly say that I don’t think games like that would have deterred me from playing (real) drums if they had been around when I was a kid. I think it would have only increased my desire to get my hands, or sticks as the case may be, on the real thing.
I suppose some statistician could track the emergence of new bands in the coming years and perhaps come to some conclusions about whether or not games like “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” actually diminished the number of young people who decided to learn to play a real instrument, but that probably won’t happen.
I’m not terribly concerned. I think the kids who are serious and dedicated enough to learn on a real instrument will be able to pull themselves away from the game console and invest the time and effort required to become a musician because they realize the value of the sense of accomplishment they will experience. To say nothing of how much fun it is to get together with a few other people and just jam. A game cannot replicate that experience.
And there’s always that possibility, however remote, that learning how to play the real thing could be the start of a journey that lands them on a real stage in front of a few thousand screaming fans some day.
Thanks go out to NME.