…tap the mic! (tap, tap)
Anything else I was going to write about has been derailed. Harmonix just announced Rock Band 4 for 2015.
I’ve heard people question whether a video game can teach real music skills. The Rock Band franchise can – and I’m not referring to the complicated pro instruments, either.
I learned to sing from Rock Band. When I started, I could barely slide through with a 76% on Easy, but the concert crowd cheered for me anyway. No one in my life had ever complimented my singing before, but Rock Band was happy to have me sing. And so were my friends!
Between encouragement from my friends and the applause of the game, I went from 76% Easy to 100% Expert over the course of two years – and at the height of my skill, I could nail that 100% Expert while sight-singing an unknown song from the guide pitch and lyrics. (Yes, I was ridiculously proud of this ability.)
Around then, I considered taking voice lessons. When I met with my proposed instructor, we established that I didn’t know anything about breathing, or holding my mouth right, or any of the other thousand things that make a good singer – except that I could hit the pitch, reliably, perfectly. He told me that was the hardest skill to teach. I told him I’d learned it from Rock Band.
Apart from that…
Want to see the Harmonix offices? Watching the RB4 release video was wildly nostalgic for me, because those are all real Harmonix devs in the real Harmonix offices. (It was about all I could do to not wave at the screen and yell “Hiiiii!”)
Harmonix was my first full-time games industry employer. I came on to run playtesting for The Beatles: Rock Band, and I didn’t look back for the next four years. At Harmonix, I found not only an employer, but a family and a community. I’d never imagined myself in production, but because I had mentors who saw my potential and cared about my growth, I wound up overseeing projects ranging from digital submissions to the Rock Band Network to Harmonix’s fantastic web team.
Today, I succeed as an indie developer because I excel at estimating deadlines, assessing risks, organizing my priorities, and expressing myself clearly and confidently. In short – I succeed because of the production skills that I learned at Harmonix. I will never stop appreciating the opportunities I had there.
Rock Band 4 is coming out in 2015. I am going to get a copy. It will be a fantastic game made by fantastic people, and I hope it is ridiculously successful.