Friday, June 27, 2008

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Carpal Tunnel

Ah, Guitar Hero. Are the skills required to play your most difficult of songs analogous to actual guitar playing, or are you - as guitarist John Mayer suggests - an affront to real musicians everywhere? As in most cases of controversy, the truth probably falls somewhere between the extremes.

Guitar Hero is just as fun and frustrating as playing actual guitar. I know this, because I once took a guitar class in junior college. My teacher was a Juliard snob who couldn't teach his way out of a eco-friendly shopping bag, and he expected us to read notes, which, according to my classically-trained father whose Spanish guitar I was borrowing for the class, was ridiculous. Beginning guitar, mind you. Beginning.

As with piano, I abandoned all guitar aspirations when I realized that I had tiny hands. Seriously tiny. They don't really look that small, until you compare them to a slightly larger person's hands - my fiancé, for example - and realize that my thumb is smaller than his pinkie. They don't cover much distance, and so the more complicated chords were impossible for me.

I figured Guitar Hero was safe. It's the friendly version of guitar, without all those pesky finger placements and having to actually know the song. As long as you can reach all the buttons...

Yeah, I can't get to orange.

Here's the thing - when you're playing on Easy and Medium, your hand doesn't move at all. It's easy to associate the colors on the screen with the consistent placement of your fingers, because you don't have to reach the dreaded orange button. Four buttons, four fingers.

With that fifth orange button in the equation...what then?

I haven't figured that one out yet. I did beat "Slow Ride," but you have to be seriously impaired not to beat "Slow Ride." Even if I manage to get past Tom Morello and Slash, what will become of me when I attempt "Knights of Cydonia?"

I'm scared.



Liz said...


suesun said...

I am seriously impaired, then, I suppose! I tried Guitar Hero for the first time with my 11-year-old niece and I thought it would be fun, but it positively sucked. And so did I! :-)

Anonymous said...

If it helps, most players I know have to "shift" (that's the classical string player term, anyway) to a hand position that allows their pinky to reach the orange. It's a muscle memory thing, just give it time and patience.

Marc said...

I wasn't sure what I was doing when I tried "Rock Band"; I ended up just playing 'Space Invaders' against the falling notes; I don't know how the game and music relate at all. cv

Liz McD said...

suesun - It can take a while to get a hang of the game, believe me. I think having played guitar before does help, because it gives you the necessary sense of rhythm to get a feeling for how the game expects you to react.

drummerboydyl - I've had the most success by keeping my fingers shifted down, because it's easier to move one's index than one's pinkie. Still sheer hell, though.

marc - In my experience, they sync up pretty well. The notes should all be hit simultaneously with the dominant melody of the song. It gets confusing when the song is syncopated, but otherwise is pretty straightforward.