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Are We Not Gamers?

A few weeks ago, I had one or two questions in the comments section of this blog about my opinion of Guitar Hero. I recently wrote an article for Slate about the newly released video game Rock Band, which is akin to GH, but expands the experience to involve more players.

Monitor Mix seems as good a place as any to continue the discussion.

The line between gamers and non-gamers is clearly diminishing, if not already obsolete. I went to a music performance the other week at a place called Backspace. This alcohol free, bagel serving hang out is replete with a "Scrim Room", wherein one sits in front of a computer screen for hours, ostensibly engaging in acts of faux warfare or wizardry. I am the first to admit that I know little about this sort of gamer, though I do find the dedication admirable. The obsession is not so different from my own friends' enthusiasm-bordering-on-addiction to games such as Settlers of Catan, Mafia, or Scrabble. There are also the casual video game players, those who put on boxing gloves and punch the air via Nintendo's Wii or who master solos a la Guitar Hero. They play during their lunch breaks or to help wind down after work; it's social and certainly more participatory than watching TV. And isn't compulsively checking and updating your Facebook page just another form of gaming? In other words, few of us are immune.

With so many of our interactions being mediated by computers, video games have become the rec rooms of the virtual community centers. The best and newest games, such as Rock Band, meld the virtual with the actual; they make little distinction between what is palpable and what is imagined. With Rock Band, you are hanging out with your very real friends, playing along to the master recordings of real songs, and on screen you are atop some of the biggest stages in the world. Of course, the truth is that you are nowhere except in front of your TV. But Rock Band professes that it doesn't matter—though you might not be creating memorable music with your friends, you are creating a memorable, real-life moment, all with the help of the unreal.

Part of me feels that Rock Band is yet another example of our culture's increased tolerance of phoniness, whether for the sake of simplicity or out of sheer denial. It's certainly easier to pretend to make art or to speak the truth than to actually do either.

But it is also unfair to hold Rock Band, a video game, to the same standards that I do artists, or politicians for that matter.

From the Slate piece:

There is a sad similarity between Rock Band and some actual bands, and that is the attempt at realness. With so much of music blurring the lines between ersatz and authenticity, at least the Rock Band game is a tribute to rock, rather than an affront. In the realm of fakery, I would choose Rock Band over American Idol or over any of the other flimsy truths masquerading as music.

So, do I like Rock Band? In short, yes. If people listen to David Bowie or Black Sabbath because of the game, if they get even one glimpse of Keith Moon's frantic genius or feel how Kurt Cobain's guitar lines were as expressive as his hoarse cry, then Rock Band is better than listening to most of the awful music out there. And, the truth is, not everyone should form a band. Any stroll on MySpace or visit to a modern rock station will tell you that. There are probably a handful of bands who would be doing the world a favor if they broke up and played Rock Band instead. They might actually learn a thing or two.

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Regarding the Slate excerpt here, are you sure American Idol is inauthentic?

I've never watched the show, but must concede actual talent does rise out of its ranks.

Which is to say, Carrie Underwood's singles thrill me.

And like non-televised bands, she also seems to have worked for it doing talent shows growing up.

Sent by dhs | 11:16 AM | 11-28-2007

YES! Settlers of Catan! I think this is the first time I've ever heard anyone mention Settlers of Catan outside of my family and close friends.

I owned Guitar Hero for a while when I had my PS2 and XBox. It was fun, probably the most fun I'd had playing a video game in a long time. When you talk about ersatz versus authenticity in music I think the same blurred boundary exists in gaming. You look at video games these days and most of them are the same idea rehashed over and over. First-person shooters, RPG's, MMORPG's, turn-based strategy games or real-time strategy games - they're all just the concept with different characters and settings. Guitar Hero was a step in the right direction, breaking the fourth wall of gaming but not destroying the experience. I equate Guitar Hero to games like DDR. It's a puzzle game that takes actual physical involvement, and it makes for a great social event, too. The Nintendo Wii acoomplishes this, as well. There's something rewarding about performing a physical action and seeing the results on screen. Sadly, Guitar Hero was not enough to warrant me keeping my video games. Two May's ago I sold all of my games and my XBox so I could buy a record player. I kept the PS2 to play DVD's. I figured I would get more mileage out of records than I would out of a bunch of video games that I never play anymore because they're all the same. I gave Guitar Hero to a friend, though, and he loves it.

PS- Your puppy is very cute. What is his/her name?

Sent by Nick L. | 11:46 AM | 11-28-2007

My mother never allowed my sister or I to have a video game console in our house[although I do seem to have some talent on Super Smash Bros-become Jigglypuff, put everyone else to sleep]. She always encouraged us to do things that were real, to live in the here and now.
Curiously,my twelve year old video game deprived sister is now in grade five Royal Conservatory piano. She taught herself how to play guitar, and frequently practises both at the same time. She's in an honours choir, and during the summer she plans to take violin lessons. Although she does like covers, she's also starting to write her own material.

I agree with Rock Band being better than American Idol, though. Sometimes, at my high school, it felt as if I was the only one who never wanted to watch the show, and the only one who loathed William Hung and his followers.

Sent by Kirie | 11:52 AM | 11-28-2007

What hath Pong wrought?

Sent by East Coast Terry | 12:16 PM | 11-28-2007

Carrie I'm starting to think you're a bit of a music snob hehehe.

I love that Black Sabbath is considered so great these days. Back when I was a metal head hardly anyone else liked them. Now all of a sudden they're this seminal band. It's funny how time has changed perceptions.

Sent by Gary Drechsel | 12:22 PM | 11-28-2007

These games may be the end of music and civilization, but at least they'll help us to coin a new, creative phrase: the "faux pause" - when a member of your band or team accidentally pauses the game in the middle of competition.

Sent by Freddie LaFemina | 1:47 PM | 11-28-2007

"Part of me feels that Rock Band is yet another example of our culture's increased tolerance of phoniness."

I agree with this sentiment. Mostly because I actually do play the guitar. Then I meet people who don't play a single instrument but are pros at Guitar Hero and act like total they're total rock stars.

At the same time, it's annoying because some people could be learning how to make real music rather than wasting their time mastering a video game. But the problem is that their is less of a distinction between the real thing and its "phony" counterpart. Maybe because they get more attention and praise more quickly from their friends from mastering the fake thing than if they spent years learning the guitar and tried to form a successful band? Games like Guitar Hero and DDR are, after all, more for showing off to your friends rather than simply being able to have a good time with them.

Sent by Jennifer Giang | 1:52 PM | 11-28-2007

Yes, ditto on the mention of Settlers of Catan! That is seriously the most vicious board game I've ever encountered!

Anyway, I love Guitar Hero, and am looking forward to try Rock Band. Then again, I'm a huge gaming and music nerd, so it comes as no surprise. A few years back, I used to be obsessed with the Japanese predecessor of these music games (Guitar Freaks, Drummania)...and oddly, Drummania got me interested in drumming enough that I actually went out and learned the real thing. So as phony as these games sometime seem, I think they do have an overall positive effect...not to mention, they're simply loads of fun.

Sent by w.k. | 1:57 PM | 11-28-2007

The Slate excerpt bothers me insofar as I don't think I believe that any cultural product, no matter how cheesy, stupid, or banal it might be, can be inauthentic so long as it is validated by an audience...and is an audience even needed to validate it?

Yes, the producers, writers, and 'engineers' of American Idol create a product that is more or less synthetic, or a 'likeness' of the creative/celebrity process, but it is no less authentic than the Daily Show or Colbert Report - both of which I think are widely considered to be 'authentic' culture.

American Idol (and all 'phoney' or crappy bands, MySpace or not) is a perfect example of the new genre of cultural/music product: they blur the line by allowing the audience to feel they have a say in the production of culture; they allow the audience to *become* the product (MySpace); and they openly acknowledge that they are manufactured (unlike the Fabians, Monkees, Frankie's and Annette's of the days of yore).

Gaming/Idol/Rock Band might be phoney, but they are not inauthentic.

Sent by ljc | 1:57 PM | 11-28-2007

For me, American Idol and Rock themed video games...it is like a choice between being buried up to the neck in camel or elephant dung. I'm pretty sure were this to happen to me, I really wouldn't care to differentiate between the two. It's all dung.

Sent by illicitizen | 2:01 PM | 11-28-2007

Your article on Slate about the game Rock Band was too funny. I was in tears I was laughing so hard. You have a very entertaining writing style.

Sent by aferguson | 2:14 PM | 11-28-2007

wait, you guys fight over set lists? but all of the fans just shout out the songs they want to here anyway!

Sent by Ben | 2:18 PM | 11-28-2007

I read the Slate article, and at first I was really annoyed, but as I read on, I realized that you really did enjoy the game. This was my experience also. I felt the same way as you did when it came to the fakeness of it all. I've always wanted to learn to play the guitar, but never had the chance. I tried singing, the guitar, and the drums (the latter of which I enjoyed the most). The fact that you felt silly playing the game probably as something to do with your own conscious thoughts. I didn't feel silly at all because I was surrounded by friends who wouldn't judge my coolness factor. I had fun. I think that this game revitalized my desire to learn to play a real guitar. I think that anyone who might be a little too high strung on the whole music scene should just look at this game for what it is: some good wholesome fun.

Sent by Richard Perez | 3:23 PM | 11-28-2007

In 1974 Ted Nelson wrote "Computer Lib: You can and must understand computers now / Dream Machines". One passage he writes, "Somehow the idea is abroad that computer activities are uncreative, as compared, say, with rotating clay against your fingers until it becomes a pot. This is categorically false. Computers involve imagination and creation at the highest level. Computers are an involvement you can really get into, regardless of your trip or your karma".

Perhaps Guitar Hero (I love the game as well) will introduce some folks to good music; maybe inspire them to create good music. Maybe, it will inspire them to create video games. This idea of doing something real, isn't creating a video game real? To the previous poster whose sister is in grade five Royal Conservatory piano, Shigeru Miyamoto plays guitar, banjo, and went to art college. He also managed to create Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Nintendogs, and so on.

Sent by Miki | 3:24 PM | 11-28-2007

Great articles...thanks!

Did you see the recent South Park episode, "Guitar Queer-O"?

GENIUS

I blogged it here, there's some links in the post:

http://www.colortonemedia.com/blog/?p=82

I heard a clip of it and thought it was hilarious. Thanks for providing a link. -CB

Sent by Ethan Bauley | 3:58 PM | 11-28-2007

I have looked at Rock Band in amazement. I want to play it but I do not want to shell out the money for it. Same with Guitar Hero. When I play Guitar Hero I really don't enjoy it as much, its not like a guitar at all, it looks like one and that is all. You still have to press a button at the correct time (which I have a problem with) to get it to make a sound. It is like Dance Dance for the Rockers Soul. But I do have Karaoke Revolution and that is a great party game. Of course you have to hang out with people who are over their ego enough to sound like shit (which I am always the first to raise my hand to break the ice with new people around. I figure if people see me sing, well then hopefully they will get over themselves). It is great and it is involving. Now these role playing games I just cannot understand for the life of me. But it is nice that Guitar Hero feels like it is the new Halo. Which I can get behind because like you said it is a real experience.
Which brings me to the Wii. I am not one who is a gamer. I do not have much interest in pressings a series of buttons to have my character shoot/hit/jump/attack. However the Wii brings the interactive element. When I play Tennis, I am playing against a computer. The swinging of my hand at the right time hits the ball across the net. Like real tennis. Like bowling, or golf. On a rainy day you can golf. On a rainy day you can play tennis. I like that part of it.

I also like your connection with gaming to everyday obsessions like myspace and facebook updates.

Sent by Luis | 4:00 PM | 11-28-2007

Oh also about it being our cultures increased tolerance of phoniness...perhaps but perhaps it could people who do not have the ability, who have tried, who are tone def (Karaoke Revolution as mentioned in my other comment...I am tone def), it is a way for them to succeed. I know I cannot sing, I know if I walked into an audition singing the way I do I would get denied. Its a fact, I know it. But with a game like Karaoke, DDR, Guitar Hero it allows those dreamers to succeed, if only on a game.
I defy anyone who plays those games to claim to be a real Guitar Hero, a real rock band. I don't know, I am not as opposed to it as I am to games where people lose themselves, literally sometimes, inside the game.

Sent by Luis | 4:10 PM | 11-28-2007

You can play Settlers of Catan on your xbox! Go online and download from the arcade!

Sent by blip | 4:20 PM | 11-28-2007

I couldn't agree with you more, but I'm not going to lie, I enjoy Guitar Hero & Rock Band. My friends and I added our own personal fav. bands onto Guitar Hero 2.
Way easier to play on guitar hero than an actual guitar.

It's fun to play and I don't get the cops called on me by my next door neighbors whenever I play guitar "too loud" (assholes).

Sent by Breanna D. | 4:32 PM | 11-28-2007

The people who you say should do us all a favor and play Rock Band over playing in a real band are probably not playing in their real band because of their undying need to express themselves musically. They want the real, human attention that wracking up tons of points on Rock Band will never give them.

Sent by JJ Hellgate | 5:15 PM | 11-28-2007

Settlers of Catan...Cool! I was anti-Wii for a bit then got sucked in and semi-hooked...especially Guitar Hero, which I was lame at for too long! Now, we've all gotten burnt and spend our time playing Yahtzee! and listen to music. Best decision EVER!

Sent by Alex R | 5:30 PM | 11-28-2007

One time I referred to you as "Carrie Underwood" by mistake. I'm sorry!
Anyways, speaking of real bands breaking up to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero: Have you heard of the band "The Guitar Zeros?" They are an actual band that plays with modified Guitar Hero controllers. Pretty badass.

No worries, I've been called "Carrie Bradshaw" as well. -C

Sent by Dan G | 5:42 PM | 11-28-2007

i don't see what the appeal about guitar hero is.. its setup just like any other paint by numbers game. however, after reading that article on slate, i kinda want to play rock band. hope its not too complicated. pretty sure i'll play super mario kart on my snes til the thing breaks.

has slate ever done an article on world of warcraft? talk about blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality. that game scares me.

Sent by Lauren | 7:49 PM | 11-28-2007

I just read the article on slate and I had to make a comment about where you said "Basically, you get to sound experimental and avant-garde for one moment before you get kicked out of the band." That has to be the funniest thing I've read all year. LOL!

Sent by erik | 8:15 PM | 11-28-2007

I just read your review of Rock Band over on the Slate. Great stuff. Having owned an indie label, I appreciate your real life comparisons to the game. It would be great if some of the "kids" playing Rock Band (and Guitar Hero) actually do pick up an instrument for real and (attempt) learn to play.

Sent by Dave | 8:23 PM | 11-28-2007

How do you feel about Black Sabbath post Ozzy? The only things I like about Dio are the mano cornuta and the Tenacious D song "Dio".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mano_cornuta

"Dio has rocked for a long, long time,
Now it's time for him to pass the torch.
He has songs of wildebeests and angels,
He has soared on the wings of a demon.
t's time to pass the torch,
You're too old to rock, no more rockin' for you.
We're takin' you to a home,
But we will sing a song about you."
-Tenacious D

Sent by Rock You Like A Hurricane | 8:35 PM | 11-28-2007

Guitar Hero & other such parroting games have certainly done for music what coloring books have done for art.

Except in the case of GH, any attempt at coloring outside the lines/improvising is soon thwarted...

Sent by Zia | 8:49 PM | 11-28-2007

"Are We Not Gamers?"

No I am NOT a gamer. I'll have to go against the grain on this one. I just can't get into sitting down in a zombified state staring at a screen all the while becoming emotionally involved interacting with a computer, or game system. I don't care if it's music related, sci-fi, fantasy, or sport-like. I'd rather spend my time more constructively on something else, or enjoying the air outside. I do have a good friend who is none other than a video game addict. He knows it, his wife tolerates it, and I chide him endlessly in a jestful manner about his need to feed off of the system's various bleeps n' blurbs, his ability to slam dunk virtually (he's a shorty, nearly hobbit size, well maybe not that tiny in stature but...), fight vampyres or aliens, or what have you, to even racing cars in the streets of the world's best coastlines. Even to let me know on the phone, "Did you know that Pavement is on the soundtrack for the background to this baseball game?" OMG! But whatever, if someone gets a kick out of sinking into the abyss of digitalized entertainment, then so be it.

I do try to keep myself in check, and have no ego, or snobbery if I happen to walk into a Best Buy to find a quick dvd, and happen to see the congregation encircling the display of Rock Star getting juiced on being a "Rock Guitar God." I snicker silently, and keep myself from ruining their fantaplay. "Hey you, why don't you just hang out at a guitar center in front of a Marshall stack, crank it, and play like the other people who want to be heard. Get the arm hairs raised up from the raucous rumble of the sound jutting out like razors pushing through the air. Really feel the decibels." But I don't. Some of them probably do that too actually. One reason why I prefer not to go into music stores. That, or maybe it's the general aura given off from the employees. I don't know. I do know I caught a commercial just the other night where one of the "players" seemed to morph into Slash while he played one of these games. Leather pants and all (round Lennonesqe shades, and Top Hat too). To this day I still think The Lizard King was really the only person to pass off wearing leather pants anyways. Does Slash wear Khakis? Not just tan, or sand coloured, but maybe a loose fit casual, no pleats, charcoal coloured type. Or how about jeans that you don't have to jump into to actually get in? Oh, it may not sound like it but I do respect his gig. Good for him. But out of curiosity, how does one stay the very same for 20 years? Two words, Rock Star. Instant perpetual youth once inducted into the forefront. When you can sign the occupation on your tax form 'Rock Star' the deal is cut and sealed.

No thank you to the video games. But somebody has got to play.

Sent by |3rian | 9:33 PM | 11-28-2007

My mistake. Err... Guitar Hero, Rock Band, or whatever its called. I know you and the readers got the gist of it. One thing is for certain. I have told my friend not to call me, and that he's on his own (so much for unconditional friendship) if the invisible electrodes coming out of the screen attach to the back of his retinas in order to transmit the electronic impulses to his brain. Once the transformation is complete and he is changed into some kind of modern day 'Lawnmower Man' lose my number, please...

Sent by |3rian | 9:56 PM | 11-28-2007

"With so much of music blurring the lines between ersatz and authenticity, at least the Rock Band game is a tribute to rock, rather than an affront."

I agree with you about Rock Band and Guitar Hero and their ultimately acceptable level of reverent phoniness. I couldn't quite articulate my opinion on this but you hit the nail on the head. Also, I've only played Guitar Hero once, but I was pleasantly surprised to see people and bands like Iggy Pop and Ramones so nicely represented.

But now I'd like to know: what do you think about that other game, Jam Sessions? If you don't know of it, it's on a little handheld device like a GameBoy that is usually intended for solitary use, and rather than holding a 'real' guitar-like object as in GH, you hold a little stylus and brush it against a little screen to simulate strumming. There's something about this that strikes me as crossing the line into a realm of unacceptable phoniness. Are we really going to remove both the physical simulation of guitar playing AND the competitive spirit of gaming and still call it a guitar game?

I don't know, maybe I'm just not the video game type. I'll stick to Scrabble and Clue.

Sent by nikki | 12:31 AM | 11-29-2007

It's interesting to see this conversation from an outsider perspective. I'm much more used to talking and thinking about these games from a gamer's point of view, i.e. my own and that of those like me.

Musicians and music fans often talk about hearing a particular album or particular song in their youth that changed their way of looking at the world, that literally made them into the fans they are today. A recent discussion at The Onion's AV Club was about this topic precisely, and how inspiring U2's Joshua Tree was for one of their music critics. I've had this experience myself with a few albums, but frankly the sensation was utterly insignificant compared to the feeling that playing Super Mario Bros. for the first time inspired in me. I had played video games before, Asteroids and Pac-Man, but suddenly I was here presented with an entire world to explore, on my own terms, with little in the way of negative consequences. The first time I saw someone break through the ceiling of World 1-2 and run over the level, in front of the score counter, it felt like someone cracked my head open and poured in the fucking book of Revelations.

I certainly enjoy music, but I wouldn't consider myself a fan per se, and music has had nowhere near the impact on my life as my hobby of choice. Video games have inspired me to try and become a writer, to create an engaging world of my own, rather than the dreary life in insurance or marketing I would almost certainly have been consigned to otherwise. To those who argue that gamers are simply "sitting down in a zombified state staring at a screen all the while becoming emotionally involved interacting with a computer" and interacting with bizarre fantasy worlds: how is this any less constructive than lying in bed listening to records? Both can be intensely emotionally and intellectually exciting endeavors, and both can inspire people in incredible ways. Not everyone wants to be a rock star, you know. Some of us have other aspirations.

Ultimately, both video games and music are art forms capable of changing lives and providing important and transformative memories. They may not be for everyone, but don't begrudge those who happen to disagree with you.

Sent by unless | 12:54 AM | 11-29-2007

Another example of 'fakery' bordering on art is Karaoke. My mother was a professional singer (singing sadly. mostly cover songs) and as she has matured and moved away from performing as her means of financial support she has utilized the outlet of karaoke as a means to a different end.

Truth is many people who perform do not often create what they perform (i.e. actors) and I am for any positive outlet for the kind of energy and desire to connect with others in a performative and non-traditional way. Long live Whitesnake and Bonnie Tyler!!

Sent by Rachel Michelle | 2:35 AM | 11-29-2007

Great Carrie.

Your pieces work best when they challenge us to review our own idea of what makes music good and who gets to decide what music is good.

And I must agree that expanding the musical knowledge of kids and unknowledgeable parents is certainly a good thing.

Sent by ras3hilton | 9:33 AM | 11-29-2007

The Slate article was great! This blog is one of the highlights of my day. Here's a question for you Carrie:

What Sleater-Kinney song (if any) should be in a video game, and why?

Sent by Zac | 12:36 PM | 11-29-2007

We are Devo.

Sent by Jack | 1:19 PM | 11-29-2007

unless,
"To those who argue that gamers are simply..." To be truthful, I'm not arguing. Nor did I ever imagine that a gamer would be rubbed the wrong way by my colourful description of words only used to paint a picture from text on the very screen before you. I was merely having fun, setting the frame, and joking quite like. You and your brethren do what you like, that's cool. Please don't take it personally. I wouldn't quite compare playing an instrument to playing a video game in the same sense of a form of art. We could go on about what is art, and never truly conclude from our own two perceptions. However, I don't imagine any real aesthetic balance being conceived from a gaming stand point. Frankly, I don't want to take away from Carrie's initial idea here. I'm simply not a gamer, as the title asked. By all means relish in your "hobby" and get all that you can out of it. In the end just know that I'm not "knocking you." I mean really, one can't be too zombified if they're interacting, and functioning to win the achievement.

In short, I'm not an American Idol fan, nor am I a Guitar Hero fan. But they serve their purpose, and diversity continues on. Sure, if someone decides to pick up a real guitar after playing one of these games, then by all means have at it.

Sent by |3rian | 3:40 PM | 11-29-2007

just wanted to give you a heads up about the free artist resource site, www.datamusicata.com four months old and we've already had 186,000 hits. everything that i've learned in forty years of singing, performing, touring,practicing, even house guesting. seems to be striking a sympathetic note in the community.
if you think it will help someone please pass it on.

Sent by james lee stanley | 4:10 PM | 11-29-2007

I personally don't understand the Guitar Hero craze, but any game that isn't violence oriented cannot be all that bad. I mean, isn't replacing the simulated guns with toy guitars is a step in the right direction (even if it results in the proliferation of phoniness)?

Sent by Asia | 4:59 PM | 11-29-2007

"There are probably a handful of bands who would be doing the world a favor if they broke up and played Rock Band instead."

Exhibit A: Sleater-Kinney.

Sent by Jay | 7:08 PM | 11-29-2007

dunno.
i played NES tetris
and my guitar today
and
both worked out fine..

-dave aka too poor for a wii

Sent by Dave | 8:47 PM | 11-29-2007

Earlier this week, my son's band teacher gave us a demonstration of SmartMusic, a program that works in much the same way as Guitar Hero except with real instruments. Very cool. I've written a bit more about it in When musicians become gamers.

Many decry video games as a waste of time, but there is something that makes them so enjoyed by so many. SmartMusic seems to have taken that and applied it to something more "useful" than a "mere game".

Sent by Brett | 9:12 PM | 11-29-2007

oh man, can i hang out with your friends and play Settlers of Catan? i effin' love that game.

Sent by Peejay | 10:11 PM | 11-29-2007

the thing is "rock band" or "guitar hero" are complicated puzzles, much like a lot of games, be they electronic or not. you can get better at the puzzle the more you practice, and the reward system is strong for doing well. you can see pretty plainly if you get something correct, and who doesn't like seeing that they are correct. and besides, it is a lot of fun. now, writing a song, in a way, can be a puzzle as well. you put together your notes and chords and lyrics, and hope that you have come up with something successful. the difficulty is that the rewards are more complicated. even if you think you nailed it, well, a few thousand critics might think otherwise. the rewards, if any, are a lot more complicated to discern. there are no "right" answers. there may be an art to creating good puzzles or good games, and it may be a whole lot of fun to play them, but at the same time, it is a entirely different type of process, in large part because of the feedback loop.

Sent by mikeyj | 12:26 AM | 11-30-2007

"What Sleater-Kinney song (if any) should be in a video game, and why?"

Rollercoaster was on the NHL 2K7 soundtrack, which - although it is a great song - seems like an odd choice for a sports game. Carrie, can you comment on how that came to pass?

Sent by jason | 12:44 AM | 11-30-2007

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Sent by al????veri?? | 6:16 AM | 11-30-2007

A lot of entertainment media may be considered "phony" as it is some form of escapism. I will never be a cool private eye on a dectective genre tv show. I will never be involved in a marriage with beautiful people where it turns out we're both hired hitmen as we see in movies. And I'll never be a rock star, hit a homerun as David Ortiz, or skate as good as Tony Hawk as I do on my video game consol. It's ok. Humans like to use technology to create these fantasies. That's fine. It's fun. I also liked Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.

Sent by The S | 8:45 AM | 11-30-2007

A good counterpoint in comic form...http://xkcd.com/359/

Sent by Ryan S. | 1:13 PM | 12-19-2007

Carrie - Can't help but post the link to Randall Munroe's webcomic on the same subject. Like much of his work it is sincere and sarcastic at the same time. The rest of the strip is devilishly clever if a bit obscure.

Sent by Reuben | 7:38 PM | 12-19-2007

The link would be helpful, huh? (Though it looks like someone beat me to it)

http://xkcd.com/359/

Sent by Reuben | 11:59 AM | 12-20-2007

Simulacra, abstraction: superb, quick, readable book (tho' hard to find): The Abstract Wild, by Jack Turner. A dr. of philosophy, chief climbing guide for Exum (Grand Tetons) and writer for Outside magazine. Which, in most other respects, is just self-fellating yuppie gear porn.

Speaking of role-playing.

Sent by NSF | 5:04 PM | 12-21-2007

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