Get off the couch, put away your multicolored plastic toys, and pick up a real instrument. That's the word this week from Jack White, frontman of the rock band The White Stripes and video-game-hater nonpareil. Speaking to British music magazine NME, Mr. White suggested that all aspiring musicians should "quit playing video games, throw away their Auto-Tune program and cut three strings off their guitar."
Auto-Tune is the voice modulation technology pioneered by a handful of US rappers; the three strings line is a reference to the stripped-down chords employed by White and other garage rock wizards. But it's the video game rant that really has the gaming blogosphere all knotted up. White, after all, is a serial basher of gaming culture.
In an earlier interview, White panned Guitar Hero and other music video games. "It's depressing to have a label come and tell you that [Guitar Hero] is how kids are learning about music and experiencing music," he said.
Well, White might be happy to know that music games have kind of lost their lustre. According to the NPD Group, music games generated a hefty $1.4 billion in 2008. Sales have since dropped by 50 percent.
Over at the gaming blog Kotaku, a few commenters were quick to cut White down to size. "I'm so sick of this 'play a real instrument' thing," one reader opined. "The two aren't even comparable. I play guitar, yet I also love Guitar Hero-type games. They are vastly different experiences and being good at one doesn't make you good at another. Also, spending time on games doesn't negate your ability to also learn to play a real instrument."
May we suggest White check out "Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring"? The music game, developed by a studio in Boston, will ship with an actual electric guitar, which players can use as a controller in the game, or as a real, live instrument. The game will be available this fall for the PS3 and Xbox 360; no word yet on price.