Rabbid Penguin Guitar Heroes
For the first time in my adult life, a gaming console has found its way into our house. With four boys between 6 and 14, tight control of the “video experience” is all that stands between family harmony and factions of the kids deviously plotting to control the world, starting with the one occupied by their brothers.
For the past year, the non-high school age kids have entertained themselves with Club Penguin, a safe-for-kids, on-line virtual world occupied by Penguin avatars. Disney acquired Club Penguin for $300M a year or two ago, and began insidiously sending flyers to the local schools encouraging the students to pick out penguin names and join “the Club” before summer break. Of course, the kids come running home wanting to join Club Penguin ($5/month + extras!) so they can play with their friends in the virtual Antarctic all summer long! The kids love it and Disney uses every trick in the book to extract money from your pocket book. For example, there is a fluffy pet the penguins can keep in their virtual house. For $5.95 + shipping and handling, your kids can actually have a REAL fluffy pet! Woo-Hoo! So the kids empty their piggy banks and beg us to order them the fluffy pets. What comes in the mail three weeks later? An envelop with a colored cotton ball in it. I kid you not! Unbelievable.
Completely as an aside: Do you wonder what the heck this whole on-line social networking thing is all about? Spend some time watching kids on Club Penguin to get a dose of the future. Fascinating and frightening at the same time. Might make you not so quick to become a Facebook junkie…
Recognizing that the older kids will outgrow the Club Penguin experience, Santa brought a Wii into the house this year. And with the Wii came two more games, Raving Rabbids and Guitar Hero. Raving Rabbids involves weird rabbit-like creatures doing all sorts of crazy stuff – sports, music, throwing paper balls in class, screwing around at the office, avoiding trucks on city streets, etc. Words can’t describe – you have to see it to believe it, and the kids love it. Strange, but very funny and there is no shooting of any kind!
And speaking of virtual reality … the real coup de grace is Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero is a game that uses a fake guitar with a “strum” lever and five finger keys on the neck that need to be “played” while rock music plays on the TV with symbols for the notes flying by as the song plays. You get points for playing the notes correctly and properly timed, and the guitar makes bad sounds and the crowd boos when you screw up. I figured a fake guitar game would just be lame. Right until me and Dave spent two or three hours rockin’ and drinking beers one night playing with said fake guitar when the kids were in bed. Now I’ve concluded its just plain cool, and all of the kids can kick my butt.
But that’s not all. When Laura and I were at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month in Las Vegas we saw a company selling a game called AirBand Hero that doesn’t even use the guitar! The player wears two gloves that detect the motion of the wrist and fingers, and makes sound by pretending to play a non-existent guitar! And you know what? It sounded pretty good and even looked like fun! On the way to school with my high school age number one son a few mornings later, I pointed out that his kids are going to think he’s an antique when he pulls out his “real guitar” to show them how “it used to be done before these durn ‘puters took over!” He just looked at me like I was crazy. Yeah. This, from the kid who not only has never seen an LP, but can’t describe an 8-track or cassette either. Heck, he’s not even sure what CDs are for. Don’t you just order music on iTunes and put it on the iPod? What the heck are you talking about Dad? You are such an antique …