What Makes People Want to Play Rock Band and Guitar Hero?

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NYU psychologist Gary Marcus wrote an interesting article recently in the Huffington Post. He explores the phenomena that might account for the enormous popularity of the video games, Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Marcus writes:

Few games demand less of the player; I suspect monkeys could be trained to play, and know for a fact that robots can cruise through Guitar Hero on Expert.

Aside from simplicity and affection for the songs, Professor Marcus’ hypothesis is that the success of these games is based rooted in “a lust for power.”

The article is well worth the attention of educators.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-marcus/what-makes-people-want-to_b_286386.html

Comments

4 Responses to “What Makes People Want to Play Rock Band and Guitar Hero?”
  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    I’d say this criticism goes a bit far. For one, you could just as easily argue that the heavy metal featured in Guitar Hero, etc. is, as a genre, “rooted in a lust for power.” Beyond that, these games are primarily about rhythm. People like rhythm, and they like doing things in time with music, viscerally, fundamentally. They like to clap, dance, etc., even if they do it badly, especially if they do that well. Add a Skinner box on top of that impulse, and you’ve got a successful game franchise.

    That said, I do find the whole thing mildly disturbing. But with the emphasis on mildly.

  2. Kent Chesnut says:

    Gary,
    As always, I enjoyed your post.

    So Guitar Hero makes people happy by making them feel like they are in control (even though they aren’t)… and this is worth the attention of educators.

    Allowing students to make decisions about how they learn, what they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned gives them control over their education… and, I believe, makes them happier and more productive students.

    I know it’s not what you were advocating, but the first thing that came to mind is that some educators could read this and determine that they should use mind games to trick the kids into feeling more in control (without actually allowing any autonomy – kind of like the games) as a manipulative strategy to improve performance.

    I (as I’m sure you do) advocate giving the kids more “real” control.

    Regards,
    Kent

  3. Learning to play guitar is something that you will need to think of as a long term effort and isn’t something that you can do in an evening, a week or even a month. It requires a variety of skills that take both time and effort to master. The most effective way to learn is to take lessons with a teacher or work with a more experienced friend who can show you how they learned.

  4. Interesting viewpoint, but a bit overexaggerated. Guitar Hero is just a video game, thats fun to play with friends around for a number of reasons:
    – Involves music, and as we know, everyone loves music.
    – Competition amongst your friends, which is just plain fun.
    – Cool control mechanism, which adds to the enjoyment of the game.

    This recipe would work for basically any type of game I think. The game isn’t about learning, its about having fun.