It's sad but true -- I, The Hawg, turn 40-years-old in June.
I've been mad about that since I turned 39-years-old, but the significance of being on the edge of middle age hit me right in the head earlier this week. Here's what happened.
We purchased a copy of Activision's Guitar Hero for our Nintendo Wii for Christmas. My 12-year-old son raves about it. Says it's a great game and a true classic. Yes, he was able to play along with "Rock n' Roll All Nite" by KISS and rock along to a ton of songs.
He said I just had to try it. I did. Guitar Hero sucks. I picked up that nasty copy of a Gibson Les Paul and had absolutely no fun with the game. I barely made it through the tutorial before I realized it was no fun and the actual game is worse.
There are three reasons for this, I think. For one thing, I actually play guitar and I can tell you that fooling around with Guitar Hero is a poor substitute for picking up my Fender Deluxe Stratocaster, plugging into an amplifier and actually banging out a song or two.
And, yes, that's my Strat in the picture. Ah, what a beauty. She originally came with three Fender Tex-Mex pickups, but the one on the bridge was replaced with one of those thin, humbucking pickups so the guitar sounds extra angry when needed.
That's another matter entirely, of course. The point is I might hate Guitar Hero because I almost sometimes kind of know what I'm doing when I have a real guitar in my hands.
Second, it could just be that I'm getting old and still miss the good old days when playing a video game meant hooking an Atari 2600 to a television set and controlling all the action with a joystick and one fire button. That blasted Guitar Hero controller is sophisticated by comparison and I hate the game too much to sit down and mess with it until I get good at it.
No, such things are for kids, I think. My parents really didn't "get" my Atari games and I suppose I don't get a lot of the games my kids enjoy. It's all come full circle, I think.
Third, it could be that Guitar Hero just feels too much like work. Do you know what you call putting out a lot of effort to do something you'd rather not be doing? You call that a job. I've got a job and I have absolutely no interest in doing something that feels like work but provides me with no income (keep those "why are you blogging, then?" comments to yourselves).
Perhaps I can illustrate my final point with a few games I've come up with that should appeal to people who think that Guitar Hero and labor-intensive games like it are actually fun.
1. Bailout! Harrr, matey! You be a pirate on the high seas and your ship has been attacked by those lily livered lackeys hired by the queen. They put a hole in your ship and it's your job to grab a bucket and bail, bail, bail in order to stay afloat. The game comes with an exclusive bucket controller and features a soundtrack full of sea shanties. Avast!
2. TaxStar. Yes, it's tax season once again and you work for H&M Circle, the largest tax accountant in the country. Find those loopholes, record those deductions and get the maximum rebate for your customers. Can you beat out other tax preparers in your office and receive the coveted Employee of the Month trophy? The game comes with a keyboard controller and the latest copy of the tax code.
3. Sisyphus! Remember Sisyphus from Greek mythology? He was the fellow who was condemned for all eternity to push a stone up a hill, only to have the stone roll down the hill so poor Sisyphus could begin his trek once again. In this game, you assume the role of Sisyphus. There's no way to win and the game never changes a bit. Comes with a special rock controller and an incline. Because of the special equipment involved, the game costs $500 but it's well worth it.
4. COBOL Programmer Plus. Yes indeed! Your task is to write COBOL programs of increasing in complexity. After you write a program, you get to compile your code, watch it fail, chase out the bugs, compile it again and hope it works. Yes, it's all program, compile, run, debug, recompile and repeat until you go insane. Comes with that keyboard controller that can also be used for TaxStar, the Let's Go Cobol programming manual, a carton of unfiltered cigarettes and plenty of things to throw to relieve frustration. It's fun for minutes!
I predict any of those games could be a big hit, given my experience with Guitar Hero. Look for them in a store near you in time for Christmas 2009.