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March 9, 2008D. Riley

I never thought it would happen, but Rock Band has singlehandedly kindled a love of music games in my heart. I lugged a ridiculously oversized Guitar Hero III box home on the train last night. Not because I wanted to play the game, but because I needed another guitar for Rock Band. There was no hope for me. I was hooked

It's become sort of a regular tradition at my apartment: every other week people naturally gravitate to my room, and the 40 inch LCD, and white-hot music flows sweetly through our veins.

Find here a primer of what I've learned about Rock Band, so that you, new player, might not stumble over the faux pas I have made. These are the key facts for your new rock persona:

The Guitarist: You're the glue that holds the band together. Presumably you're the guy that owns that game, because almost everyone who buys it just goes straight to the guitar and never looks back. Constantly horde star power, saving it for when another band member fails or is near failing. Try to be humble about it ('humble',unfortunately, does not include jumping up and down while shouting "I SAVED YOUR ASS! I SAVED YOUR ASS!") Be sure to constantly overestimate your abilities and, in the process, fail Suffragette City at 95% because you thought you could play it on Hard and nobody had the balls to tell you that might be a bit much. You'll make them play the song again, of course, on Hard again (of course), and you'll probably fail again (of course). Never go to the bathroom. Ever. Or if you do: take the guitar. Otherwise you'll be demoted to drums.

The Bassist: Nobody respects you, just like real bassists! Either you've never played the game before or you're somebody's wife/girlfriend and you've never even looked a videogame, much less touched a controller. I hope you like holding the yellow fret, and only the yellow fret, for the entire song. More experienced players should do the following: try not to get too bored. Pray that someone chooses Dani California or Gimme Shelter so you can actually do something. Most importantly: don't let your hurt feelings show when you discover Bass on Expert is easier than Guitar on Hard. Try not to screw up your 6x multiplier because there aren't enough notes in the song to get it back.

The Drummer: Your task is as thankless as the bassist's, but it's actually hard. The first time you play you will invariably ask everyone else if there's a way to turn off the bass pedal. There isn't. You will always be more tired than everyone else, and you'll try and see if anyone else wants to play drums after every song. They will all sort of look away, feeling guilty but worrying that if they make eye contact they'll have to take your place. If you have someone in your group who actually WANTS to play the drums then you better cherish them for the rest of their days because this does not happen often. Nobody will progress past medium unless they play the REAL DRUMS, in which case they probably have better things to do. If you're not a real drummer you will suddenly gain a newfound respect for them. Then you will play Foreplay/Longtime, curl into a ball, and weep salty tears of pure shame.

The Vocalist: Spend most of your time puzzling over how the score multiplier works. Make sure you pester people about twenty times trying to figure out what the gold border means. Be sure to get distracted at the beginning of a song watching the guitar or drum track so you miss an entire set of tambourine hits. Feel awkward and lame when you find out you never decipher which parts of the song were background vocals. Sing them anyway. You will almost definitely mispronounce "Suffragette." That's okay... but it does sort of make you a loser.

The Wife/Girlfriend: Your husband sees his best friend, who lives in another city now, like once a month IF THAT. So just sit on the couch and let them play Juke Box Hero together. You can balance your checkbooks tomorrow night.

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4 comments for ‘Know Your Role’

#1 Hockeypuck Mar 11, 2008 10:31pm

Man, I love the drums. I should talk some sense into that guy you speak of.

#2 D. Riley Mar 13, 2008 08:44am

People who like the drums are a severe statistical anomaly.

#3 M. Dyer Mar 15, 2008 03:40am

I haven't rocked out in some time, and can only imagine how my drummin' skills have waned. I was halfway through hard before I started watching more things than playing games, but I might have to hop back on that horse.

#4 Fiddytree May 19, 2008 03:57pm

I guess the 19 year old college kids I play the game with are completely different than your crew because it is always a fight to play drums. When getting into the room, it's a race to be the first to call "Shot drums" before everyone else. No one ever wants to sing, so I end up singing most of the time because I'm the only one that will do anything. Most people play the drums on medium except that one guy who says "I've never played a guitar hero game before..." and the majority of my friends all can play guitar on expert. I'm the only one who can play drums on expert... or could before my pedal broke because I played the game the way I was supposed to and obviously they don't want you to play their game too much or it will break. You're supposed to shell out all that money to not play. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.