Sunday, April 13, 2008

Social Cooperation

So, it's been more than four months since Rock Band came out - there's not a lot I can say about the game itself that hasn't already been said. Best multiplayer in-person game ever made, blah blah blah.

But four months later, I play Rock Band more than any other game I own. Rarely a week goes by without a couple games or Rock Band with other people, which means that almost every week since the end of December, I've been playing a game with a friend, in person, every week.

Rock Band's almost like a social "endcap" to an interaction. Brunch ends with a game of Rock Band. Dinner, then Rock Band. An afternoon get-together -> Rock Band. Almost everyone I know has played it and enjoyed it. People I would never have thought would sing, sing. People I would never have thought would have any rhythm play drums. The cooperative nature of it prevents newbies from feeling incapable, and there's enough levels of difficulty that even four months later, I can have a nice challenge while playing with someone who's never played before.

So it's a great game - but that it's become such a part of my social landscape is unusual, and that it's become a regular experience for so many non or casual gamers is astonishing.

Would that every game were this good.


hapacheese said...

My single biggest complaint about this game - and I'm sure I'm not the only one - is the lack of "singable" songs. The vocal part is the only part that requires a sort of analog skill. The guitars and even the drums all simply require mechanical skills, but the vocals require a sense of pitch. And since you're not following actual notes, it's friggin' hard to sing a song you don't know. They really, really need to start releasing more well-known songs for people to sing. I find myself only sticking to a handful of songs simply because it sucks for whoever gets stuck on vocals to be singing all the unknown tracks.

s said...


Interesting. I knew 95% of the songs but I am not a normal music fan. I think they did an amazing job picking the songs and that they couldn't have done a much better job without getting some of the tougher bands (AC/DC, ZEP, BEATLES).

Having said that, you're absolutely right hapacheese. You can tell relative positions of the upcoming notes but you have no absolute sense...and it's compounded if you've missed a note. They seem to have compensated for this by making it more forgiving at easier level but I wonder if there is something else that could be done?

hapacheese said...

Well, there's a difference between knowing a song, and having songs that normal people have a chance of singing (and that are fun to sing).

For example, Wanted Dead or Alive really isn't a song that is within most people's singing range, but it's fun to try. On the otherhand, David Bowie is a great artist, but his songs are *not* fun to sing.

There's a lot of songs on there that I don't personally sing just because they aren't my cup of tea - those aren't the ones that I'm talking about. For example, I was really excited about Epic... but when I actually tried to sing, my god it was boring...

h said...

One of the game's biggest strengths is this: "I can have a nice challenge while playing with someone who's never played before". You can get more people to just start playing, even though they are hesitant at first, because they can make it as easy as they want to. Then, at the same time, you can play a difficulty that keeps challenging you.