During the peak of Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s popularity it was common to read worried articles in online magazines about the threat these sorts of games supposedly posed to young people’s musical education. Many people were concerned that an entire generation of potential musicians would be so satisfied whacking away on a plastic simulacrum of an instrument that they’d never actually learn how to play a real one.
Instead, the opposite seems to be true. There are loads of guitar instructors who swear Guitar Hero was the best thing that ever happened to their business, and the obsession-building gamification of learning how to play one seems to have driven a lot of young players to level up their skills and learn how to shred for real.
Take Audrey, a 10-year-old girl who lays waste to Slayer’s “War Ensemble” on Ubisoft’s Rocksmith game, which lets players play on an actual electric guitar. Not only has gaming apparently taught her how to wail hard enough to keep up with Kerry King, but she also seems to have picked up two other skills that are crucial to a future as a rock guitarist: making your hair look cool as it’s blown around by a fan and not letting an attention-starved lead singer distract you from what you’re doing. Children are not only our future, but metal’s too.