Monday, October 13, 2008

"Guitar Hero" Publisher Activision Working On "DJ Hero" Game

Dj RyB Last Night Pictures, Images and Photos
I almost busted a nut when I heard about the potential of a new DJ Hero game just a week ago.  I don't know how I missed this announcement because it seems like there have been rumors swirling around since early September.  Give me a break.  I can't keep up with everything.  Luckily one of my friends knew I would love this idea since I am a DJ myself and I've been reading up on it ever since.

Activision is really going to have to hit it out of the park for DJ Hero to work in my opinion. I guess people were probably thinking the same thing and doubting the potential of a guitar game just a few years back.   If you went back in time and told people that one of the best selling games out now would be Guitar Hero and Rock Band which use fake and cheap instruments to play a song on the screen using colored buttons and it was actually fun and entertaining, I don't think people would really believe you.  The idea sounds like it's more for little kids than adults but surprisingly, it's been a hit with all ages.

DJ Hero might have a little more trouble reaching that best selling game status because of a few major factors/differences:

1) More people are interested in "playing" a guitar than they are in spinnin' on the decks. Think about how many rednecks and rock and metal fans that are out there that are obsessed with this game.  People of all ages love a guitar riff in a rock song and it seems like everyone would like to learn how to play a guitar so the overall target audience for Guitar Hero is HUGE!  The demand will probably be much lower for DJ Hero because there are fewer people that listen to the type of music related to DJ'n (Hip Hop, Reggae and Techno/House) or that might even be interested in it.  The older crowd that gets into Guitar Hero won't really be into this idea because of the fact that they don't like these music genres and probably don't respect DJ'n as an art form or the turntable as an instrument.  Most of those rednecks and rock fans are just not going to be down with this idea so it will need to be a completely different target audience and not much overlap between GH and DH.

2) It's going to be very difficult to mimic the little nuances of DJ'n because of the different styles of music and different skills involved. Techno/House/Trance DJ's focus mostly on beat matching and flowing from one song to the next but it's also a huge part of a Hip Hop DJ's reportoire (along with scratching). Are they going to include this in the game since it is one of the most important aspects of DJ'n?  It took me a few years before I could truly say that I could beat match any two songs of similar tempo.   It takes a lot of practice, you need to learn to count out the beats and know where to bring in the next track to mix in. You also need a good ear for it which can't really be taught.  Some people just have no rhythm or ability to catch a beat.  If they include this skill in the game and make it authentic, I think people will get very frustrated and give up on the game too quickly.  The opposite rationale for making it authentic and hard to do/play is the fact that the game won't be too easy to conquer and will be a constant challenge which keeps the game from getting stale. 

3) Is the scratching going to be authentic as well? I have to admit, scratching is still one of the hardest things for me to do and I have been DJ'n for close to 10 years. If I showed a non-DJ what I can do, they would be impressed but a highly skilled turntabilist would tell me that I need some work on my crab scratch and other scratching techniques. If they make it too easy to scratch in the game, I am going to be a little upset. People need to know that the sound doesn't come out perfect every time because the needle skipped or your timing was off or it just doesn't sound right on a specific beat.  If it's just scratching the wheel to a visual cue on the screen and everything comes out sounding perfect, I am going to be a little pissed and will get bored quickly. 

It would be great if they could address all of these details of DJ'n in the game and make it as authentic as possible.  I am definitely looking forward to playing this game in the future.  It's about time DJ's got some props in the video game world as well.  I just hope it's challenging enough for real DJ's to get into and not get bored with as well.  DJ Paul Oakenfold already had an early look at it and thought it had some serious potential.  Otherwise, it will just become a novelty and people will lose interest quickly instead of becoming the phenomenon that is Guitar Hero.

UPDATE: It sounds like DJ Hero has been confirmed by Activision's CEO. NICE!!!

UPDATE 2: Activision has released the first look at the DJ Hero controller.  I'm a little confused as to how the buttons correspond to anything relevant with scratching or DJ'n.  At least with Guitar Hero, the buttons are similar to where you would be placing your fingers on the strings.  Buttons on a record is just weird and pointless.  I will give it the benefit of the doubt and wait to actually play the game before I judge but I am starting to get less excited about DJ Hero the more I learn.

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