As the wildly-popular music video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero continue to sign new groups on to distribution deals, more classic rock luminaries are speaking out against them, saying that the games discourage young people from spending the time and investing the required effort to learn how to play a real instrument.
Most recently, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman have commented on the new generation of games.
“It encourages kids not to learn, that’s the trouble. It makes less and less people dedicated to really get down and learn an instrument. I think it’s a pity so I’m not really keen on that kind of stuff,” Wyman said. For some young people that may be true, but on the other hand, I do not think that those with a genuine passion for music will be satisfied with a game and a computer-generated audience.
Mason has apparently had his share of first-hand experience with the games and was dismayed to see his own children playing them. Sounding a bit more concerned about the whole phenomenon than Wyman, Mason says he was actually “irritated” by his kids’ involvement with the games.
“If they spent as much time practicing the guitar as learning how to press the buttons they’d be damn good by now,” according to Mason. He’s probably right, but the real question is, do his kids really want to be musicians or do they just enjoy playing popular video games?
On the other hand, Mason also admits that Pink Floyd has not ruled out the possibility of getting involved with a video game like Rock Band or guitar hero, and concedes that groups have to look at new ways of selling their music. One does have to make a living after all.
Mason sounds a bit melancholy about the days when the album was king, and I suppose it’s hard to fault him for that, since a lot of us have fond memories of that era.
“I’m of the old guard who are really sad about that, because I always liked the concept of the album – rather than just cherry-picking tracks – and also the business of the art work that went with it,” says Mason.
As you would expect, the makers of the games come to the defense of their creations, and claim that the games actually stimulate interest in music among young people, many of whom go onto learning how to play a real instrument.
I tend to agree with the game makers, as I have done in the past. I believe those that are destined to become musicians will soon put down the plastic guitar or step away from the fake drum kit to take up the real thing.
I suppose that the only definitive answer will be known sometime in the future. Perhaps some researcher can look back and determine if the number of musicians in countries where these games are popular decreased, increased or remained the same. Surely there are numerous factors involved, including population and the economy, but I suppose researches are paid to sort those kind of things out.
For more, visit the BBC website.