Rocksmith – good or bad?

A short argument for you this time around; Matty B and Raff argue about the validity of Edu-tainment titles – Rocksmith in particular. Is it better to learn guitar the old-fashioned way or will gaming technology raise the next generation of rock stars?

M: So – here’s something that bothers me. Games which aren’t technically games. Take Singstar or Guitar Hero for instance – they’re kind of fun things which you can already do without the need for a console. If I wanted to, I could sing karaoke or play guitar. But I guess adding achievements and whatever makes a “game” out of it. One that I really don’t get is Rocksmith. Rocksmith is just a guitar which you plug into your Xbox, it says you’re crap and you pay £80 for the privilege.
If you want to learn guitar, learn guitar. If you want to play Xbox, play Xbox. I don’t expect my sandwich toaster to make milkshakes so I wouldn’t expect a games console to learn me nothin’.

R: “If you want to learn guitar, learn guitar”- I do want to learn the guitar, but I have neither the free time nor the cash to pay for it. I knew you’d say something about Rocksmith, as I recently got it, and yes, from the brief viewing we got at Eurogamer Expo it did look a whole load off ball ache, but I promise you, there is mileage in these Edu-tainment games.
Rocksmith doesn’t pander to you, and yes you are told you’re shit. But that’s good as playing a six-string guitar is not playing a five-button guitar hero game. It’s a transferable skill and I reckon in a couple of weeks I’ll actually be able to play some stuff on my own without the help of a computer.
How about those that got good at Rockband drums? They could actually play the real drums to a certain level just from unlocking chevs in a game.

M: John Bonham that does not make. The best Guitar Hero drummer in the world still isn’t a good drummer.
What I don’t get is that you say you don’t have the time to learn guitar, but you’ve got the time to play Rocksmith like somehow you’re killing two birds with one stone. If you buy a teach yourself guitar DVD for £10 and work hard, you will get better. Edu-tainment. Eurgh. The name makes me shudder – it makes me think of that Mario maths game, or Carmen Sandiego. Not cool bro.
As for transferable skills – Microsoft flight simulator might teach you technically to be a pilot but it doesn’t stop you looking like a dweeb whilst “playing” it. The only good edutainment titles are Oregon Trail or Typing of the Dead and both of those games feature guns – go figure.

R: He may not be a good drummer but he is certainly better than he was before, whether learning the drums was the purpose or not.
A DVD is all very well and good but you’re kidding yourself that you’re doing the right thing as you’re getting no feedback, whereas there is no fooling Rocksmith.  It also changes the difficulty dynamically, so if you’re particularly poor at one part it’ll lower that difficulty while keeping the rest the same. Excellent design that works really well!
A DVD in a telly is also fine for those hippy fools who play acoustic but if you want to be the big man and play metal you’re going to need an amp, sucka. Rocksmith plays through either your telly or stereo with all the pedals and effects handled by your controller.
No point arguing about it being priced higher than standard games – you’re getting hardware as well as software. For the ladies, that’s the difference between Just dance on the Wii, and Dance Central for the Kinect.

M: Straight off the bat that’s a terrible analogy as the Kinect can be used with currently thirty-odd other titles, whereas the Rocksmith thing can be used with one.
In regards to feedback – unless you’re a complete hermit living in a cave you’re going to have friends who will tell you if you’re improving. I don’t need to drop an unholy amount of money when I can just ask someone. Dynamic difficulty means nothing to me – it never works as intended and the point isn’t to make the experience easier, the point is to learn!
“Oh don’t worry Johnny, you failed your A-levels but here, have another go – we’ve made the questions easier this time.”
If you want to be a big man and play metal then you should stop wasting your fucking time playing an Xbox game and get good at guitar. If I want to get good at boxing I’m not going to go out and buy Fight Night Round 4, I’ll go join a gym. If I want feedback on how well I’m doing I can find out by getting punched in the face, the way the good Lord intended.
As an educational tool it may have some merit – I will give you that – but it has no place on the Xbox because it isn’t a game.

R: Check out Negative Nancy! “It has no place on the Xbox”- way to be elitist. What else can we do with fairly cheap technology available to all homes? We don’t know because we never tried.
About your boxing analogy- want to be a tough guy? Why not join up at a gym, start sparring with no prior experience, get your arse kicked and be put off from ever trying again. That’s much better than making a small time and money investment by getting a cheap bag at home to see if this is something you’d really enjoy continuing. And as someone who DID fail their A levels and got another chance – this time with prior knowledge of what to expect, making them easier – I see nothing wrong with second chances.
The dynamic difficulty definitely works as intended but you wouldn’t know this as you haven’t played it. You have to be completely fucking up for it to drop you a noticeable level, but if you continually can’t hit a note, it’s removed but you’re not scored down for trying to get it but failing.
There are also plenty of lessons for techniques disguised as games. These are just like any minigame except you are actually getting something from it. And compared to going to a tutor, I actually see more merit in playing an Audiosurf-style game to learn your scales and wanting to try again to beat your score than endless droning over-and-over in some middle aged man’s house.

 

Well, what do you reckon? Do you have an opinion on this? Have you played Rocksmith and are now a better guitarist? Do you agree that games make for a better player, or is the traditional route the correct one? Sign up to comment below.