There is a prevalent feeling on the Internet that these darn kids should put down Guitar Hero and Rock Star in favor of the real thing. The argument goes that all the time put into mastering these games could just as easily have been spent mastering real guitars, as that is held to be culturally more significant.
Never mind that kids who play Guitar Hero are picking up real instruments, I take umbrage with the idea that somehow learning to play songs on a real guitar has a greater real-world impact than mastering a video game. Of course being a legendary player of Guitar Hero is not going to make you rich and famous. But honestly, playing a guitar probably isn’t either. The best guitarists in the world undoubtedly play because they just love playing their instrument (or at least that’s where it all got started).
Why is that? The truth is that mastering an instrument and mastering a video game are similar experiences. Here you have this thing invented years ago by someone else, and out of this invention emerges a whole system of methods to learn, practice, and master. It’s this learning system at the heart of each endeavor that people love about playing music or games. When it comes down to it, structured play is a form of work. It’s a matter of narrowing your focus, finding flow, and entering the magic circle for a few hours a day. As long as this learning paradigm is being studied, practiced, and worshiped, who cares if the end result is a song or a high score? If the songs don’t get famous (and they largely won’t), the difference in cultural impact is nil. That’s not to say that playing a song on a guitar is useless. It is to say that playing a song on Guitar Hero is not useless. Either way it’s teaching people how to learn by doing.