E3 2011: Rocksmith hands-on
For me, Rocksmith was one of the highlight announcements from the press conferences. The idea is simple and brilliant: instead of playing a music game with a plastic guitar, you play with your own real guitar.
The promo video talked about how you could use Rocksmith as a learning tool, so I thought I’d find out. I’ve never played the guitar, so I figured I’d be a perfect test case.
After a long wait, I got kitted up with a guitar and headphones in the Rocksmith bus Ubisoft have just outside the convention center. The representative introduced the core concept: notes move down the screen along lines which match up to the frets on the guitar. The colour of each note represents the string on the guitar.
The song I played only used two of the strings and I wasn’t able to play the tricker sections, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I get the feeling that with more time, you could quickly improve.
What’s so enticing about Rocksmith is that the skills you learn in the game are directly applicable to playing the actual guitar. Although the music notation is different, you get used to the physical action of finding strings and frets, then playing them at a rhythm.
It’s conceivable that once you’re comfortable playing your guitar in the game, you could move on to proper notation and adapt your skills.
Of course, I’m not sure what it would be like the other way round, coming from knowing how to play a guitar to doing the same in Rocksmith. I would imagine that you would need time to get used to the notation.
Given the upfront costs, how well this will sell is uncertain. Yet there are plenty of people who already have consoles and guitars, so perhaps there’s more of a market than you might suppose. I know that if I was contemplating learning, I’d definitely be interested in Rocksmith.