THe UX of Rock Band 2

It aint cheap, but plunk down a bunch of money and you can have a new xBox with extra controllers, a cooling fan and a brand new Rock Band 2.  Our 3 boys are between 5 and 10 years old and have never practiced an instrument.  Katie is musical, so I am hoping they inherit her skills.

It took a while to unpack and set everything up, but once it was ready, the game was pretty intuitive.  We practiced guitar and drums first, just getting a feel for how it works.  It was pretty cool how the kids were getting the hang of it quicker than I was.

They insisted on trying an actual song.  We tried Modest Mouse, Float On.  All of the settings were set to “easy”.  Surprisingly, we didn’t suck as much as we thought.  The kids rocked it.  Even the 5 year old was pretty good on drums (with my help).

The graphics were spectacular, but really, you don’t look at any of it.  You star at the little colored bars that you have to match.  Generally, you focus like a laser and try to keep the beat.  It’s easy to get lost.  Buying more songs is a bit expensive but easy to do.  The entire ecosystem is strong.

Unexpectedly, I was sweating and exhausted at the end of the first song.  It’s hard work to stay focused for that long.  Pressing the drum kicker with your foot is really tiring on your legs.  I literally had to catch my breath after the song.  I don’t think I was breathing.  I have new respect for anyone in a band.  This is not easy.

I truthfully believe that Rock Band 2 will bring joy of music to kids who use it.  It will make them want to join a real band.  It will teach them rhythm and how to follow the beat and how to concentrate on the music.  It will teach them the right body motions.  Most of all, it will teach them to rock.

The interaction design is gorgeous.  The details have been thought through by real musicians and game designers.  A+.

4 Replies to “THe UX of Rock Band 2”

  1. What I find especially cool about the genre: You learn to listen!

    When I started to learn playing Bass a few years ago, I tried to listen for the bass line in songs. It took me some time to actually here them. Now I can enjoy a lot of music much more by noticing the bass line details.

    I think you can get a similar effect with Rockband or Guitar Hero. While you could play it without the sound, it gets much easier to master when you listen to the lines and learn them while playing. There’s a lot of repition that you can learn, requiring less and less focus to play well.

    By the way, The Beatles Rockband is really nice.

  2. This line of yours is great: “It will teach them rhythm and how to follow the beat and how to concentrate on the music. It will teach them the right body motions. Most of all, it will teach them to rock.”

    I, like many others, made fun of these meta-instruments games at first, but I’ve since changed my tune after playing Guitar Hero III for about 8 hours straight one time.

    1. Thank you! One of the great pleasures in life (for me) is a great turn of phrase or idea. I have heard from several people that Rock Band does lead to real instruments. I’m excited for them.

  3. @Jorn: Hi! Happy 2010! Good to see your name on the screen. 🙂
    I’m glad to hear you think RockBand will help with listening. One of my concerns was that they’d get used to playing based on the visual representation and not learn to use their ears. I see potential pitfalls, but I’m hopeful that RockBand will make actually them better musicians when they start taking lessons.

    Hope to see you soon! Don’t forget to visit when you hit the west coast next!

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