Saturday, January 3, 2009

...and that's when I realized I am old

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.


Sherry said...

Forty is NOT old.

fwaggle said...

I have fun with Guitar Hero, but I only play the easy and medium modes which I find quite easy considering I have a "little" guitar playing experience. The first challenge for learning to play GH is the timing, which you probably had no troubles with.

The second part is practice, because like any other good video game it takes practice to get really good at it. I was told once that if I practiced for at least an hour a day I could get good enough to play the really hard modes.

I looked at the stratocaster-copy that's leaning against my wall collecting dust and decided I would resolve to just suck at guitar hero forever, and spend my hour a day doing something more productive. :D

The Natural State Hawg said...

Sherry -- It sure as hell feels old, however. The fatigue, aches, pains and the rest of it suck.

Fwaggle -- Heh. If you practiced for an hour a day, you could play a real guitar. Funny, huh?

Da Old Man said...

I miss the joystick and one fire button, too. The new controllers just take so much effort. said...

Hawg, I agree, so many video games these days seem like work.

I do not play video games. Since our 16 year-old son has an X-Box 360, I do like to check out the NCAA College Football game when the new version comes out.

This past season, we traded in several of his old games and got the new college football game for just $9.00. Yup.

But man, once you start playing the game, there are so many buttons to push and things to do just to change the defense or run an option play or audible at the line of scimmage. I get frustrated and since I do not want to spend the necessary hours and hours in order to get good, I simply don't play at all anymore.

But now that my wife and I have a 21 month old son, Brady, I play with his toys instead - and have a lot more fun! Simple Simon indeed.

Krissi said...

June what? I'm a June 11th b-day!

dizzblnd said...

ahhhhhhhh the Atari.. I remember when I was the only kid in the neighborhood with one AND a pool.

I LOVE GH and RB. I could play for hours and never get tired. Our whole family plays we never get bored.

I of course have never played a real guitar, so i can not relate, though understand your frustration.

BTW 40 isn't old.. It's the new 30!

dizzblnd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Natural State Hawg said...

Da Old Man -- Yes, I miss the old "pick up and play" games that dominated when I was a kid. I hate ridiculous complexity in video games -- I'm too lazy to work that hard.

Paul -- I've got an NCAA Football game for my trusty old Dreamcast that works well enough for me. It took a bit of time to learn, but it wasn't ridiculous, you know?

One of the joys of the Wii is that the controller is intuitive -- you use natural motions to control everything.

Why take such a simple concept and ruin it with Guitar Hero? That's just insane.

Krissi -- June 16. Yes, I'll be 40-years-old on June 16 and will likely be mad as hell about it. I may even invent my own cuss word just for the occasion.

dizzblnd -- Heh, you must be younger than me, then. I don't have the patience for Guitar Hero, I'm afraid. Ah, such a pity...

HebsFarm said...

When we shopped for presents for our boys age 9 & 11, we were told that GH was a MUST. After studying the box for about two minutes, I concluded as you did - if they're going to spend hours with this thing, why not REALLY LEARN to play a guitar? Simulator games are for activities that are impractical to do in real life, like fly rockets or fight dragons. Why simulate playing a musical instrument?? Call me old-fashioned, but I don't get it.