Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Story of a Winner

People think of Mister P. in many different ways: Statesman; Scholar; Poet. But if there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that Mister P. knows how to ROCK. I certainly proved that last week. Or at least tried to.

Flashback 2 weeks ago, when T-Bone brought the "Guitar Hero" videogame into work for us to try. The controller is an actual "guitar"; there are buttons along the fret and another button to strum. You assume the role of lead guitarist and play along with one of 30 rock classics; as notes fly at you on the screen, you have to hit them on the guitar. The more notes you hit, the higher you score; miss too many notes and you get booed off stage.

T-Bone has brought in many games to show us, and I've hated most of them. War games, superhero games, sports games... they were all too complicated for me or just too boring. But I conceded that Guitar Hero was the best game to date. T-Bone promised to bring it back in July 3rd, since we had a half day at work and we could all try it out again, only this time in head-to-head competition with two guitar controllers.

A couple days later I sent T-Bone a text message asking if I could come over his place to practice the game, so I wouldn't embarrass myself the following Monday. What I didn't tell him is that I had already gone out and bought the game and had been practicing. He was heading out of town so I couldn't come over, but it wouldn't matter because, in his words, "I will dominate Monday with my Bark at the Moon. It will be no contest." Bark at the Moon is the hardest song in the game. He didn't realize he was doing this, but I got Served; it was On, now I had to Bring It.

For the following week I lived Bark at the Moon. I downloaded the song and listened to it on headphones at work. I played it in my car. It was on my iPod for running. I digitized the videogame so I could play back the song in slow motion and analyze all the notes. My hands would be numb from playing it over and over again for hours at a time, every day. One of the ways the song keeps score is by telling you what percentage of notes you played correctly. I figured I need to get into the 90s to bring T-Bone down. on Tuesday, I was around 55%. Wednesday, 65%. Thursday, 75%. Friday, 75%. Saturday, 75%. I hit a wall I struggled to break through. I didn't get into the 80s on Sunday, and basically just had to hope that T-Bone would have a bad day.

My heart sank on Monday when I caught a glimpse of T-Bone playing Bark at the Moon. He was clearly better than me. I mean, I was genuinely upset by it simply because I felt all my training was for nothing. I still had to go through with it though. When it was my turn to play, I called T-Bone up front and said "let's do Bark at the Moon." He gave me a sort of dismissive "really? why do you want to put yourself through that?" I told him I just wanted to give it a try to say that I did it. I even "struggled" with the guitar strap, forcing an exasperated T-Bone to have to adjust it for me before we started the song.

The music rolled, and to the shock and delight of a roomfull of spectators, I nailed the first riff. It's unclear at what point T-Bone realized I wasn't just getting lucky, although Stupid Dutch screaming "he must have bought the game! he bought the game!" didn't really help me keep my secret to the last possible second. Unfortunately, T-Bone still beat me. However, I did earn his respect. Later in the afternoon as we were all taking turns with the game, he called me to the front: "come on Mister P., you're my level. let's play." T-Bone thought of me as a videogame peer. I can think of no higher praise.

T-Bone (l) vs. Mister P. (r)

You may be pleasantly surprised that this game has given me new appreciation for White Zombie, Judas Priest, and the Burning Brides. But Incubus and Audioslave still suck.

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