A Few Rocksmith Critiques

I continue to use and love Rocksmith, years after first getting it. (For those of you who don’t know or remember, it’s a guitar game, where the controller is an honest to goodness real electric guitar or bass. You play along with real songs–not covers–where they’ve taken out the guitar or bass tracks, and you get to fill them back in. The game starts off very basic, and then it ramps up as you learn more.

On the surface, it’s a great idea. It’s also one I’ve happily used for years now. I’m to the point where I definitely feel like I can play electric guitar and bass. Not that I’m a rock star or anything, but I feel adequate. On a scale from 1 to 10, I think I’m around a 4. I know that sounds like not a lot, but this is coming from a musician background, where my idea of what a 10 is is extremely high. A 4 ain’t that bad.

But here’s where the critique comes in. I’m good enough now to know exactly how bad I am, and the difficulty level of the songs has progressed to the point where I pretty much need to be playing the exact song to improve. And so where for the longest time, I could just sort of play along and hit most of the notes, now the game’s asking me to hit all of them.

That last jump from most to all is a real doozy.

And it’s made more difficult by the fact that I’m inevitably comparing myself to professional musicians. They’re the ones playing along with me, they’re the ones whose notes I’m mimicking, and they’re much–much–better than I am. (Well not all of them. Seriously. Some of these songs are just so easy, I kind of feel bad that I was ever impressed with the song to begin with. I learn how to play it, and I feel like the bands have been cheating me all this time.)

As I’ve thought about it, I think the real problem is that Rocksmith got me to the level where I am using artificial means. In other words, I have no idea about the theory behind what I’m playing. I’m just good at playing notes as they tell me what notes to play. Sort of like teaching someone to write by having them retype Moby Dick or Great Expectations. You can get to the end result, but you have no idea how you got there. And to get to the next level, there’s a ton more work involved.

That’s me now. I’m at a 4, and I’d love to get to a 5 or 6. But I know now that it’s going to be a lot of real work to get there, and I’m not sure if I have the time and dedication ready to get me there. What I really need to do is pick a song and learn it all the way through, but I’ve been avoiding that. I like to dabble too much.

Not that this is a really big issue. I mean, this is a lovely problem for a game to be having. It’s just a realization I came to the other day while I was jamming to some CAKE in the game. (So excited to see one of my favorite bands come to the platform!) It was good times, but daunting too.

Any of you out there use Rocksmith? Any thoughts to add? I still heartily recommend it and love the game. Just wish there were a magic formula for getting better–that didn’t involve “lots of practice.” (Ha!)

1 thought on “A Few Rocksmith Critiques”

  1. Loving the game too. The magic is in how big the callouses get on your finger tips. Two years of real lessons and 1 hour a day practice is what it will take for me to get where I want to go with the bass guitar. I’m not willing to make that investment… yet. Also, you might consider authoring music because J.J. Abrams. http://www.noteflight.com

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