Unlocking the Vault: Dear ‘Guitar Hero,’ I owe you an apology | Arts & Entertainment

I’ve always considered myself someone whose mind can be changed by good data or valuable experience. As such a person, I need to offer an apology.

I’m sorry, “Guitar Hero,” I was wrong about you. Forgive me?

Ten years ago, when “Guitar Hero” and its cousin “Rock Band” were growing in popularity, I wrote that people should spend time and money to learn to play real instruments instead of mastering useless versions of those skills. I had tried to play early iterations of the games and failed miserably. I was a confirmed hater.

Later, I was able to play more and with encouraging people. I played so much that I asked my fiancé if we could put “Rock Band” on our wedding registry. She still married me and we eventually bought “Rock Band” with a tax refund. (She brought a Nintendo Wii into the relationship.)

I played more than she did: “Rock Band”, “Rock Band” AC/DC, “Rock Band” The Beatles, “Guitar Hero” Metallica. Neither of us could drum, so the set went into the closet. And then life got busy, and we brought a new life into the world. The Wii, all the games and all the rocking, were sold.

The little baby who forced the sale is 4 years old now. He loves rock music. And thanks to a trip to the Cougar Entertainment Center in Pullman, he loves “Guitar Hero”.

He can’t hold the arcade guitars. They aren’t metal but they are heavy. He doesn’t care. We strap one on him, and he thinks he’s playing while Mom or Dad (mostly Dad) rock out to “School’s Out” or “Paint It, Black.”

And so I regret. I regret bad-mouthing “Guitar Hero” a decade ago. I didn’t know how important to me you would be. I regret parting with the games and the guitars and the little microphone so covered in my spittle from my karaoke impersonations of James Hetfield and Ozzy Osbourne.

All these years later, and a new “Guitar Hero” game hasn’t been released in two years. We caught the tail end of its massive run during that tax season and got most of our games used. I want them back.

I do still want my son to learn to play a real instrument, something I have never fully conquered in my almost 38 years. But I also know he would have so much fun rocking out with Dad after day care that it would be worth having the games, the guitars – maybe even the drums – back in the house.

This has helped me learn a valuable lesson: Don’t badmouth a video game just because you aren’t any good at it.

I said I’m sorry; let’s move on.


Tranchell is a freelance journalist and author in Moscow. His son can sing a good portion of Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” and can spot the Metallica logo a mile away. Did you play “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band”? Let’s talk: tj.tranchell@gmail.com.


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