Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rocksmith Sequel Asks Gamers To Still Learn To Play Guitar

While Guitar Hero has hit the proverbial dust and Rock Band on hiatus until an indiscernible amount of time, the music gaming genre has fallen into the lap of karaoke and/or dance products. Rocksmith made an attempt in 2011 to get real guitars into the hands of gamers and to utilize the game as a tool to actually learn to play. The right way, not with buttons and unrealistic strumming from a plastic interface. Well it worked enough to warrant a second game, which was released yesterday. 

The first release has 1.5 million units were sold and now Ubisoft isn’t shy to talk about the educational experience behind the game. It’s “the fastest way to learn guitar” according to a national study by Research Strategy Group Inc. and Ubisoft states that 95% of their players learn to play direct from the game without an outside teaching source. The game utilizes an adaptive learning process, showing you what to do, testing your skills, and pointing out what portions of a song need to be improved. It also allows the user to swap lessons as they wish and to choose the songs they want to learn. The game also alters its teaching style to fit with what works best for the gamer. And of course the trick to all of this is to keep it fun. But you’re playing a guitar: how is that not already fun? There are also mini games where you use songs and hit notes in order to proceed forward, such as a space combat game and duck shooting ala carnival game style.

Another aspect that Rocksmith was concerned about was churning out too much product in a short time frame, like Activision and EA/Harmonix. Gamers were too overwhelmed by the same repetitive products that people were not interested in buying them. RockBand 3 had a keytar. Woo.

Rocksmith will work with any regular guitar and bass with a quarter-inck jack. It’s as simple as plug and play. The biggest investment is, of course, buying a guitar. But the interface is really interesting and it feels intuitive. I remember reading about this back in 2011 where Ubisoft brought in professional, and well known, musicians to provide input and test the product. When you see real rockers want to play and learn the songs, you know it’s a good product.

Now if only I had a guitar…yeah. That’s the downside. Your peripheral is an object that costs quite a bit of money. It’s a niche market, but it seems to be quite a unique educational tool that those with the hardware (literally) could find it a useful companion to their studies. It's also a testament to developers allowing teams to go off on their own and make the games that they want. Ubisoft's high standing in the industry is nothing to balk at, but 1.5 million sales typically wouldn't warrant a second game. But they support their team. They're confidant in their skills and that translate to more unique games and experiences. Other companies could learn from this.


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