Guitar Hero: Gateway Drug to Six-String Bliss

"Guitar Hero" has become a gateway game to real-life guitar playing.

ByABC News
April 28, 2008, 4:14 PM

April 29, 2008 — -- Guitar Hero is turning some gamers into actual guitar players.

With more than 14 million units sold in North America since the videogame's release in 2005, the incredibly popular franchise is giving an entire generation of potential guitarists just enough of a taste for them to consider experimenting with the real thing.

"I'd always had an interest in playing guitar, and you kind of get more of an inkling to do it when you're playing the videogame," said Louis Grondah, who snapped up an acoustic guitar at Guitar Center and started learning chords after playing Guitar Hero.

Grondah, a fan of Metallica, Pantera and Deftones who is currently in training as a police officer in San Jose, California, said he still plays the game, but now spends more time reading books about guitar.

"It's difficult -- I'm not going to lie," he said about learning to play the six-string. "But it's really fun."

The wildfire success of music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band is causing a subtle revolution in popular music -- maybe not on the level of the British Invasion of the '60s, but noticeable nonetheless. The games are bringing about renewed interest in the guitar, a music-making machine that's been losing traction lately to turntables and laptops. Guitar Hero is like a gateway drug that's getting a new wave of players hooked on guitar.

"It's been phenomenal, frankly, to watch millions of people embrace the idea of air guitar," said Tim Huffman, the CEO of guitar-teaching site iVideosongs. "And not just guys. I mean teenage girls and adults. Every tour bus with a touring band has Guitar Hero in it."

In an informal poll, readers of's music blog Listening Post agreed that the Guitar Hero phenomenon will cause a resurgence in guitar rock. Just don't expect to read too many stories about videogames leading to outbreaks of music-making (violence makes for better headlines).

Aaron Starke, a 20-year-old gamer from Sugar Land, Texas, was turned on to the guitar about three months ago after a job at Fry's Electronics got him playing his fair share of Guitar Hero.