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February 06, 2008



"Gabe" of Penny Arcade wrote an interesting blog post (see last paragraph) about the hardcore/casual gamer divide that I think relates to what you're talking about. Not everyone who likes video games gets all their enjoyment from grinding, obsessive drilling against impossible challenges (not that there's anything wrong with that). There's also a social/artistic side to it that doesn't get enough mainstream attention.


It's nice to see posts about video games on here. I really think they are more important and pervasive than they get credit for in this country. By the way, Beatmania came out for PS2 here, an earlier version of the's really hard, and it didn't sell well so you can find it pretty cheap. I think I got mine new with the keyboard for less than $30.

Mickey Mephistopheles

Virtual Reality is like mainlining television. -William Gibson

Guitar Hero? Rock Band? I don't get it.

Spent several hours a day in High School playing video games (the relatively lame ones for the Commodore 64, mind you, not even the immersive experiences of contemporary games) instead of learning guitar. I'll be 40 in a couple of years, wondering all the while why I didn't get chops then. Picked up my '92 Squier "Wayne's World" Strat for the first time in many years over the summer; I'm hesitant to put it down now.

Truly strange: Xbox 360 Core + Rock Band sans nifty game controllers: $340 plus tax. Squier "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" kit, complete with student Stratocaster and transistor amp: $300 plus tax.

I'm perplexed by people's willingness to continue to live as spectators rather than as participants.

You can't get the time back, comrades. Carpe diem.


@Sinistercrawl: Thanks for pointing that post out. That's exactly what I find most interesting about gaming - the social / artistic side that evades so many people who are on either side of the spectrum, and why I have so much hope for the (hopefully) upcoming expansion of the midcore sector.

@Warg: Thanks, I found the domestic Beatmania on eBay a few minutes after I posted this and if all goes well it'll be on its way to me with a DJ controller for $15 in a few days.

@MM: Ahh, I spent some time on a C64 in my early youth too. It was mostly with LOGO and the Roger Rabbit video game, I was scared shitless of the evil doctor, forgot his name.

Your point of view certainly makes sense at a very superficial level, and Gibson's makes sense on fewer and fewer levels as virtual reality becomes what it's actually become, not what it was when he wrote that. Playing Rock Band can be about a lot of things, as Gabe pointed out in the Penny Arcade post sinistercrawl mentioned above. But it is never, ever, ever about actually BEING in a Rock Band. It's enhanced karaoke, extremely enhanced karaoke and I don't think anyone thinks it's not, except for Otaku. And even then, even those hardest of core gamers probably see the irony in practicing on a plastic guitar surrogate for 10 hours a day.

Rock Band, for me, is about having a unified moment. Chuck Klosterman (growl all you want) and I'm sure a lot of others wrote at one point about how our diversified media landscape will lead to fewer and fewer "universal moments" for people growing up now. While my half-sister who's 20 years older than me may have a handful of 5 or 10 songs that really embody her experience as a teenager, I have a basket full of about 50 or 60. Kids growing up now will probably have hundreds once they're older.

The 50 some-odd songs that are in Rock Band really click with me and my roommates. We can all sit around for hours on end and have a fun time together every night and not get distracted - our efforts are truly concentrated on having a good time together. And the conduit isn't beer or sex or drugs or anything - it's playing Rock Band. So it's not about being a spectator. You don't sit and watch other people play Rock Band and NOT want to play. Watching people play Rock Band makes you want to participate.

(Also - a small but important detail about Rock Band - a couple of the interstitial "fun facts" screens that appear while songs are loading up say things like "A real guitar isn't that cheap. Maybe it's time to invest.")


If you'd like to try out beatmania or drummania/guitar freaks I can hook you up or lend the station the game(s) for a bit.

Jason Moses

The guy in the above youtube video has actually wrapped his fingers in tape in order to prevent blisters, a la bassists. Can you believe that? Nail polish was a good guess, anyway!

Also, if you haven't heard this from others already, the US version of beatmania is pretty terrible. Ugly interface, hilariously crippled songlist with a terrible difficulty progression, lots of removed features, and so on. Worth it for the cheap controller, but it makes a terrible first impression. Of course, I know people who really liked the US version, too, so who knows!


For real "Techno-Hero", try Harmonix's early games before Guitar Hero, FreQuency and Amplitude. Those games also allow you to remix the tracks, which is really fun.

Amplitude on YouTube:

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Christopher John

Guess blogging is about everything indeed! Nice post here. I'm one of those game fanatics too.

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