Guitar Hero is a solid gold hit; a sell-out across all major gaming platforms with a booming ebay/craigslist trade emerging for guitars sans game. I enjoyed a perfect song recently, and I was rewarded with 5 embossed gold stars. But this got me thinking... I hate gold stars! Unfortunately I kept thinking.
I love Sonic Youth and The Stone Roses, but much of the game "play" feels like a chore. Shouldn't I be able to make my own playlist, instead of slogging through a music selection geared for alternateens? It's an mp3 and a guitar tab, it should be trivial to roll your own. With the Wii selling nearly two million units a month, and many of those sales ending up in the hands of older gamers (all the way up to retirement homes), there needs to some diversity in the musical selection and avatars.
The game also punishes you for improvisation - it's DDR in a guitar neck. This is the third iteration in the Guitar Hero series, and Mario and Katamari have shown us how satisfying games can be when you remove walls - shouldn't a game whose heart is live performance do the same? Instead we're mindlessly mashing buttons. We may as well be cup stacking. There's also a second level of performance in video games when playing games in a social setting. For spectators, there's absolutely no visual interest in following the action, unless you need a headache.
Guitar Hero is exhilarating and addictive because listening to music is fantastic. Considering this, it's remarkable that the music industry has still managed to paint themselves into a corner they probably won't get out of. There's a tremendous opportunity for music technology that breaks in instead of breaking down the more you experience it.