I’ve got rhythm … not!

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

As I have said before, I am sometimes slow to embrace new technology. I still don’t own an iPod, I was the last member of my family to get a cell phone, and I haven’t ever owned a laptop computer. Recently, I decided to take a trip into a new technological and musical world — the world of Guitar Hero.

Guitar Hero is a video game where you have a guitar-shaped controller and have to “strum” at the right time while holding down buttons on the “frets” to create different notes. It sounds simplistic, but it is surprisingly addictive, especially when you can rock out to songs like Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Queen’s “Under Pressure.”

The game has been out for a while — I purchased Guitar Hero 5 — but I hadn’t ever bought it before, mainly because it’s considerably more expensive than most video games. But about a month ago, my brother came down to visit and we decided to buy it and try it out.

Now, I have been playing acoustic guitar pretty regularly since I was in the sixth grade. As a result, I figured that I would be able to pick up the Guitar Hero game instantly.

Of course, that wasn’t the case at all.

Even on easy mode, the notes switch too quickly and my sense of rhythm is just about as bad as Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk. During the game, if you make enough mistakes, the “audience” eventually “boos” and throws you off the stage and you have to start the song all over again.

After a few dozen hours of playing, I’m good enough now to at least pass most of the songs on easy mode. But if I even move up one spot to the “medium” difficulty level, I’m right back to hearing “boos” and failing songs left and right.

On a lark, I decided to try a song on “expert mode,” just to see how far I could last before failing the song. I think it was about 4 seconds.

As I said, it’s especially frustrating for me because I’m an OK guitar player in real life, yet I can barely play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on this plastic doohickey. But after thinking about it for a while, I believe I’ve figured it out — if you’re good at something in real life, then you can’t be good at it in video games, and vice versa. That’s why I can barely fling a football 30 yards, yet I can win the Super Bowl with the Cleveland Browns in Madden 2010.

I’m not really sure how long I’ll be playing this game, especially after viewing the YouTube video of the kid who got 100 percent on Van Halen’s “Eruption” on expert level, and realizing I’ll never be even 1 percent as good as that kid is.

I’ll just stick to playing “Amazing Grace” and other hymns at church every Sunday. At least when I mess up there, I don’t get booed.