Back in December, when I first got Guitar Hero, I wrote a blog post where I agreed with Alan that Guitar Hero is not nearly as good as learning a real musical instrument. At that time, I wrote:
Guitar Hero might still be fun. But it’s just fun. I might learn to do well with it. But it would be learning that I don’t particularly value, that makes me better.
Now I’m thinking that I might want to eat those words. I found Guitar Hero hard. I own a guitar and have taken guitar lessons for two semesters. (Even putting it in terms of “semesters” suggests how long ago it was.) Some of my challenges in learning to play a guitar included doing two different things with my hands, and switching chords and strumming to keep the rhythm. I noticed that that’s exactly what I was having a hard time doing with Guitar Hero. I also noticed the guitar parts of rock songs — songs that I had heard a million times before but never had noticed all the guitar parts previously. I noticed because I missed my cues, and so those guitar parts were missing. While I have known Foghat and Pat Benatar for literally decades, Guitar Hero had me listening in a different way...
Now here’s the critical question: Does Guitar Hero lead to real music playing, or is it a stopping point? Nobody is arguing that playing Guitar Hero is making music, that I can see. Does it work as scaffolding?
I don’t know, but I’m now wondering: Does it matter? If Guitar Hero stops some people from becoming musicians, then it is a problem. If some people, who might have pushed themselves to become musicians, decide that Guitar Hero is hard enough, then Guitar Hero is doing a disservice. But if that’s not true, and people who never would become musicians, have a better appreciation for the music and a better understanding of the athleticism of musicians because of Guitar Hero, then Guitar Hero is providing a benefit.