I used to do this on an old blog, where I would just stream of consciousness write when I couldn’t think to do anything else. I'd call it a Stopgap, since I looked it up in a pocket dictionary and found it to be a funny term. So, here goes.
As a songwriter but a moody person, I have to capitalize on my lyricism immediately, or I lose what I had in mind. At the same time, I’m also capable of finishing the lyrics within ten, fifteen minutes if I get geared up and going. The thing I have begun to notice is that, when I am playing a video game, that entire part of my head that lets me write, or come up with melodies, the thing I am worst at. I enjoy lulls in releases for that reason, because instead of thinking about a fake gunfight, I am thinking about what is around me. I can look at a field of flowers, and write a poem of a bee struggling not to belong to the hive even means it dies in the cold, but not if I ran Zul’Farrak last night and wiped at Gahz’rilla.
The other half of that is I don’t know a lot of songwriters that also play a lot of videogames, but that’s a different issue. Maybe the problem is more in that I show little interest in the music part of video games, where as an illustrator for example would deeply be effected by the visual aspects of the game since that is the most obvious part of a game, where as the goal of scoring music is to have it add, but not overwhelm the scene. The song is not meant to be in the forefront, unless it’s a rhythm game.
On the subject of rhythm games, I had been thinking about the existence of the view point where rhythm games are irrelevant when you can pick up a real instrument. We’ll forgive them the price side of the argument for just a moment, although in my own experience, I have bought a guitar and amp for just about as much as Rock Band. I think the core part of this argument comes down to creativity. Now, a lot of people are creative, or at least have the tools. The thing separating these two camps is the will, the desire to be creative. As an artist- as in, as someone who creates art, not someone who draws, and that is one of my largest pet peeves since the term Illustrator exists to define- my need to create things is driving and powerful. It is not up to me, when I am creative, or that I am creative. I just know that I am, and I need to accommodate that creativity lest it drive me insane.
My point is this. Some people have the receptors on. Some people can look at the clouds and think of the perfect line for their play. Some people can take a drink, strum a chord, and end up with an unexpected punk anthem. Some people can start to doodle, and end up drawing so intricately that it becomes a web of ideas and images that stand out for you and can be visible to others. Those people are the people who argue in favor of picking up an instrument, I believe. These people are people who, to them, creativity is everything. I am one of these people, and I do not mean to glorify it because the need to create stems from a lot of things, not all of them positive. The one word I will use to try to clarify that is “legacy”, and I’ll leave it to you to interpret.
Some people do not have the receptors on. It doesn’t matter whether you hopped them up on drugs and put them in front of your chosen medium, they won’t have anything to do with it because they just are not creative. That is the side on for Guitar Hero, and Rock Band. There is nothing functionally wrong with these people at all; it is just a difference in character. There are many advantages to not being creative, as well. To be frank, every single artist I’ve ever met is some fashion of unstable and can hide it incredibly well. Most people are unstable, and could point to some trauma as their proof, but it’s the combination of the trauma and that receptor that makes them creative, where as the uncreative types are left to doing other things like running from it, or dealing with it directly. However, I will say this: I have met more genuinely lovely, happy people that were not artists than those who were. I have met more people who are stably employed that were not artists than those who were. I have met more people that belong to, belonged to, or run a successful, turmoil free household that were not artists than those who were. And I imagine the majority of people are not artists. Speaking for myself, that’s fine. You can have all of those things, because I have my guitar and I have a message.
People who are saying “pick up a guitar instead” are not- or at least should not be- saying that your game is not the same as learning a guitar. They are- or should be- trying to encourage you to create, even if they don’t directly want to say it. They know what learning guitar has done for them, and that’s a pretty cool experience speaking from first person, so of course I’d be eager to share it, and I think a lot of the people that do say “play a guitar” aren’t meaning in replacement.
This is all just hope that that’s what it means, because literally, “play a guitar instead” is a really stupid statement. Learn guitar to play songs other people play? Why don’t you learn how to make movies so you can make The Godfather again as best you can, or animate so you can redo Sleeping Beauty scenes in your free time? What a boorish reaction.
Lastly, I would like for you to check out my blog for other people, MaSuTology, where I have posted a funny little project: Sharing what I think about albums that came out in 2008 so far in 25 words or less. Hither!