Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I Like Rock Band

I like Rock Band because it's fun. Most video games are. And they may even be good for you. But Rock Band is more than just fun and possibly a good teacher of problem-solving skills: it makes me appreciate music more. I've thought this for a while, but I had a hard time coming up with an appropriate food metaphor about it until I read Seth Schiesel's review of The Beatles: Rock Band in The NY Times:
It is an imperfect analogy, but listening to a finished song is perhaps like being served a finished recipe: you know it tastes great even if you have no sense of how it was created. By contrast, playing a music game like Rock Band is a bit closer to following a recipe yourself or watching a cooking show on television. Sure, the result won’t be of professional caliber (after all, you didn’t go to cooking school, the equivalent of music lessons), but you may have a greater appreciation for the genius who created the dish than the restaurantgoer, because you have attempted it yourself.
More than just introducing me to new artists and songs, Rock Band has taught me how to listen to music. I really never listened to music growing up--even in the car it was always sports or sports talk radio. Music was often a soundtrack to other things, but I rarely listened to it as activity in its own right. So I had a lot to learn. I'm not saying that I appreciate music as much as someone who actually plays an instrument or has devoted countless hours to intent listening, but I think I'm getting a hang for the basics. I can certainly hear more than I could when I started playing Rock Band, which isn't necessarily saying much because until I started playing this game I listened to music almost exclusively for the lyrics. Which is the point. Slowly but surely, a video game is helping me understand why everyone in the world seems to like this music thing so gosh darn much.

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