With four-piece guitar bands seemingly everywhere you look these days – I think I might have seen at least a couple lurking on the train I caught to work this morning – now might seem like a strange time to be predicting that their existence could soon be under threat. However, I am starting to wonder if the rise of the ‘musical video game’ could stymie the potential of the rock stars of the future.
We’re always being told that children now have a much wider choice of leisure activities than ever before, but that’s only because it’s true. However, while the choice used to be whether to pick up a guitar or play a video game, titles such as Guitar Hero mean that kids can now do both at the same time. Or at least they think they can.
Don’t get me wrong: I love a bit of Singstar and I can see the attraction of being able to pick up a plastic axe and sound (something) like a rock god within minutes, but if the youth of today (and here was me thinking I’d never use that phrase) are getting their musical kicks from a PlayStation or Xbox, are they really going to bother to pick up a real instrument?
It’s not that teenagers don’t have the dedication to put in the hours of practice – some of the Guitar Heros I know could have become accomplished players for real had they invested their video game time into learning a ‘proper instrument’– simply that they might feel that they no longer need to.
Maybe I’ve got this wrong, but I worry that being a virtual virtuoso could prove to be more than enough for most kids, and if they’re spending their time in front of the TV, they won’t be out there forming bands and shaping the music we’ll all be listening to in years to come.
By Ben Rogerson