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Ubisoft's Rocksmith wants to teach you to play a real guitar

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March 15, 2011

Rocksmith aims to teach players how to play a real guitar

Rocksmith aims to teach players how to play a real guitar

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One of the big criticisms leveled at rhythm-based guitar games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band was that they don't actually teach you to play guitar. Ignoring the fact that this was never the intention of the games and not necessarily a bad thing, it's true. Rock Band 3 tried to address such criticism with its 100-button plus Pro guitar controller and another stringed controller that played like a real guitar. There's also the still unsighted Disney Star Guitarist and Power Gig: Rise of the Six String, which failed to attain the success of its button-mashing brethren. With the curtain recently brought down on the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, Ubisoft has stepped onto the stage with Rocksmith – the first videogame that lets players use any real guitar and is designed to teach them how to actually play it.

Rocksmith lets any guitar with a standard quarter-inch input jack to be plugged into an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC, meaning many acoustic guitars will require a pickup. Instead of user selectable difficulty levels, Rocksmith will automatically adjust to the player's skill level so it is a challenge but not overwhelming. The only image showing the Rocksmith interface (see main pic) suggests it should be familiar to players of previous rhythm-based games.

Like its now defunct competitors, players will be able to play either rhythm or lead guitar and they'll now also be able to brush up on chords using interactive chord charts and hone specific skills – scales or finger dexterity for example – using a variety of mini games. There will also be multiplayer, but in just what form is yet to be revealed.

"Whether a beginner or a seasoned guitar vet, players progress at their own speed and walk away from the game with the ability to play songs by memory. Rocksmith is the only video game that gets players stage ready," said Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ubisoft U.S.

One of the major factors in the success of any music-based game is the track set list and Ubisoft says Rocksmith will provide a variety of music, ranging from old to new, classic to contemporary and easy to insanely difficult, while concentrating on fun, guitar-centric tracks. While it hasn't released the names of any specific songs, there will be tracks from The Animals, The Black Keys, David Bowie, Interpol, Nirvana and The Rolling Stones.

Key told The Hollywood Reporter that by teaching people how to actually play guitar, Rocksmith would not get boring like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. He is also hopeful that Rocksmith will avoid one of the other major issues faced by Guitar Hero and Rock Band – the high cost of licensing music – as he says many bands are eager to get on board a more realistic guitar playing game – what Ubisoft is calling "games with benefits." As a result Rocksmith will offer songs that haven't appeared on Guitar Hero or Rock Band – although Key remains teasingly tight-lipped about conversations with Led Zeppelin.

Ubisoft has slated Rocksmith for a release in the second half of 2011. It is also reportedly negotiating with guitar makers such as Gibson to sell a version of the game that would be bundled with an electric guitar and retail for around US$200.

So what do you think? Are those of you who have grown bored of Guitar Hero and Rock Band likely to get the band back together for a game that actually teaches you how to play guitar? Or maybe such a game is enough to make you wade into the guitar-based game genre for the first time? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments.

Would you buy a game that really taught you how to play guitar?
About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
12 Comments

Man, I would love some game that would actually have me learn to play guitar. I've tried on my own and just don't have the tenacity. I think that I would with a game though. Hope this one actually works out.

Facebook User
15th March, 2011 @ 09:14 pm PDT

Guitar no, drums yes.

Steve Bennett
16th March, 2011 @ 12:49 am PDT

I'm an average at home guitarist who has played for fun for 11 years and I personally love the idea... Guitar Hero was limited short term arcade fun, but you quickly realised it was boring. Hopefully this promises to be what all guitarists wanted guitar hero to be - accurate tablature that auto scrolls, with adjustable tempo to enable you to learn wicked solos in slow mo and speed up as you get better, and something that gives feedback on how you're doing (e.g. in time/out of time, playing duff notes etc). Secondly a practice mode that teaches proper scales and techniques would be awesome, I haven't had the time or inclination to go to lessons since high school.

Daniel Robertson
16th March, 2011 @ 01:42 am PDT

Hopefully they'll have an option for bass guitar too!

Please?

Pretty please????

rbolman
16th March, 2011 @ 05:48 am PDT

Yep I like this, for all the reasons you state in the article. I'm no guitar hero but i like playing and just bought an electric acoustic again recently with the intention of learning more. My only concern is the publisher - Ubisoft were threatening to bring out some new game play model that required constant internet connection in order to use their products at all. I don't mind them preventing piracy but if they are still persisting with that stupid plan it rules me out.

Hogey74
16th March, 2011 @ 09:10 am PDT

Ipad already has an app like this called RockPodigy.

Jerry Turchanik
16th March, 2011 @ 09:47 am PDT

Do some research before you write an article because Rock Band 3 does teach you how to play a real guitar....

as well as drums and piano!

David Anderton
16th March, 2011 @ 06:28 pm PDT

He did the reasearch and mentionned Rockband 3 and RockProdigy is for the Ipad only and without the a larger screen it is really difficult to follow along and Apple won't release it for the MAC in general.

David Lochhead
11th September, 2011 @ 07:26 pm PDT

Well I'm a professional musician and guitar teacher living in NY and I'm just tickled that this thing is coming out. I may have to buy an xbox now. If it'll let me play my Paul Gilbert and Greg Koch you'll have to pry me off the thing to get me to eat. If the multi player feature is any good it'd probably make a great lesson tool as well. All in all I'm really happy to see something like this produced.

Michael Capanelli
19th October, 2011 @ 07:27 am PDT

I really like what Mr. Robertson said with regard to the specifics of playing and what he'd like to see. It's people like him, familiar with the guitar, if not absolutely proficient, who can help the designers of the game to fine tune to it to a level we can all get something out of it. I know they're going to have consultants on their team, but I mean they should consider opening the process wide to include all kinds of people of varying degrees of ability. Imagine what a product they'll produce if the developers will listen to lots of people like him, the musician/instructor above, and even folks that don't know the first thing about a guitar beyond the fact the like the sound. What times we're living in. I bought an electric guitar and an pro level amp in 99' hoping to learn to play, and it has been leaning against the wall in the attic for almost that entire time.

Gunslingrr6
17th November, 2011 @ 12:44 pm PST

I would buy this in a heartbeat. I bought an electric guitar and some "learn to play guitar" books almost 1.5 years ago, and I still don't know how to play it because it's too hard to learn it from a book - how do you know if you're playing it in tune? And there seems to be no good online tutorials.

If this thing succeeds, it could pioneer how people learn new skills - just as the iPad is revolutionizing how kids learn (such as math and reading).

Sambath Pech
22nd December, 2011 @ 07:23 pm PST

I've been playing guitar for twenty years...and never got that good. now with this XBOX "game", I just plug in my Ibanez and jam along with the band, learning new riffs. Just played all of "Sunshine of my Love" last week...and I mean REALLY PLAYED IT!!!

So much better than learning solo...with no other band-mates. Now, I have a singer, drummer, bassist and keyboardist going right along with me. Loads of fun.

As soon as you think you have it down pat, the AI throws in a new chord or two just to keep you learning and on your toes. So, you consistently only get a score of about 75%...because it does not let you rest on your laurels, but knows when to push your limits, automatically. Takes some getting used to, since most other games have Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane... this one sets the difficulty a half-point higher than you would need to get a 100% score...and adjusts automatically.

Matt Rings
6th March, 2012 @ 01:52 pm PST
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