Guitar Hero III is ruining my life

Ron has a new love in his life. It is called Guitar Hero III. And it is taking over his entire existence...

This is not Ron.

The gauntlet has been thrown down.  A challenger appears, and the weapon of choice?  Guitars.  With my tall Mohawk jutting multi-colored liberty spikes and my skin-tight (no doubt filthy) leans and square-toed boots, I am the image of stereotypical British punk rock.  Across the stage from me, hazed in cigarette smoke, is legendary Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist Slash.  

He picks up his guitar, I pick up mine.  The battle begins.  Really, it’s no contest.  Slash absolutely destroys me.  I get booed mercilessly by the crowd.  I curse loudly and resist the urge to throw my guitar across the room.  Take a few deep breaths, then hit retry.

Welcome to my newest addiction, Guitar Hero III.  

I was the biggest critic of Activison’s wildly addictive rock star game, in which you mash buttons on a half-sized plastic guitar to make the video game console reproduce wicked rock guitar licks.  You frantically press buttons and strum a plastic tab for points, the song ends, the digital fans cheer, and a booming voice informs you that you’re a naturally occurring deposit of minerals, otherwise known as a rock.  Undoubtedly, you’re a sedimentary rock, but you still rock just the same.

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For years, I dismissed the game as Simon for stoners.  Flashing lights, buttons, matching noise patterns?  Putting in all that effort to play a fake guitar when you could pick up a real guitar and, dedicating the same amount of time to it that you need to invest unlocking “Through the Fire and Flames” on expert and you could be on a real stage, with real groupies, making real money as an actual musician.  Or at least having the life experience of being a real musician.

Then, I got an actual guitar.  I’ve managed to learn one song on it, and not very well.  I also know two chords, so I’m one chord away from being able to play any Ramones song ever written.  It’s not as easy or as fun to plunk away as I’d thought it would be.

Meanwhile, over the holidays, I played Guitar Hero III with my cousin and father at the family gatherings.  Thanks to two player co-op mode, and a few decent tracks, I’ve become hooked on the white plastic cocaine dispenser that is the Guitar Hero III guitar.  Seriously, I’ve played Guitar Hero, and I’ve smoked crack, and Guitar Hero is a lot more fun and doesn’t leave you as jittery or toothless.  It’s also completely derailed my urge to play actual guitar, which I could’ve predicted.  

It’s in my Wii more often than Wii Sports, Resident Evil, or any of the other Wii games I own, and because of the wireless guitar frenzy, I own some great games that I haven’t even opened yet.  My free time goes to playing Guitar Hero, trying my best to beat Slash at his own game while not hurling my little plastic guitar out the window in a fit of rage or smashing it at the end of a song a la Pete Townsend when I break six figures on Easy mode.  

To all the Guitar Hero nerds everywhere:  I’m sorry I made fun of you.  I am one of you now.  I know your pain, incredibly well.  I shouldn’t have mocked your toddler-sized guitars and sad way you mimic your best rock star gyrations in your living room.  I do the same thing I always made fun of you for doing.  Please forgive me.

I’m just glad the Wii doesn’t, as of yet, support downloadable extra tracks, otherwise I’d be even worse off than I am now thanks to adding more of my favorite bands.  Those unfortunates playing the game on PS3 or Xbox 360 are going to be permanently addicted as more and more add-on songs get pushed through to keep the game updated.  They can keep feeding the addiction.  

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Eventually, I’ll run out of new thrills and, like any proper addict, wait patiently for the next dose to come along in the form of Guitar Hero IV or Rock Band.  Until then, I’ll be off twitching in the corner, playing air Guitar Hero and muttering to myself about bulls on parade and holidays in Cambodia.