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How Gaming Has Resurrected Classic Rock

Posted by radio On July - 14 - 2017

Article By:Contributor

 

It’s been about 40 years since the heyday of classic rock. That’s not to say we can exactly define when this genre reached its peak, but looking back it’s fair to look at the mid-‘70s-to-early-‘80s period as the true era of classic rock. The statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight did a thorough analysis of what consumers consider to be classic rock, and which songs still get the most play. There were a couple of outliers, like Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” (which came out in 1968). But for the most part, the spread of release dates for enduring classic rock hits was between 1973 and 1983.

 

Even if we accept the later end of that range, or think of some classic rock groups like Guns N’ Roses that emerged in the mid-‘80s, it’s been quite a while since this genre was ruling the charts. Alt-rock and grunge took over in the ‘90s while boy bands, hip-hop & r&b, and punk-pop ruled the early-‘00s. These days, beat-heavy electronic pop pretty much dominates the scene. But even with all of this change in popular music there remains a lingering appreciation for classic rock, and in some cases aging groups of ‘70s and ‘80s rockers have even made noteworthy comebacks.

 

In part, this is just because it’s good music. A lot of people who grew up in the ‘90s find that their musical tastes mature and they start to reach back toward some of the groups and albums that were popular before they were born. However, the comeback of classic rock has also been engineered and kept alive by the gaming industry in the last 10 years or so.

 

It started with the emergence of creative and wildly fun console games that allowed players to take up the role of prominent musicians, playing fake instruments to simulate the idea of starring in rock shows. Guitar Hero and Rock Band led the way, and though these games featured music from a lot of different genres, the effect was most interesting for classic rock. Almost 10 years ago a news article stated that these two games had gotten kids interested in “old-time” rock ‘n’ roll. The article even quoted Alex Rigopulos, a co-founder of Harmonix (which developed both games) as suggesting that sparking interest in older music was part of his “secret agenda.” That comment was probably made at least half-jokingly, but if this was part of the agenda, it worked like a charm. Guitar Hero and Rock Band re-popularized a lot of classic rock hits for new generations.

 

Those games have faded some since they exploded onto the scene in the late-2000s, but other video games have carried the flag for classic rock. Online platforms for casino gaming have shown a particular enthusiasm for content relating to the genre. A Guns N’ Roses slot reel is particularly popular on some of these platforms, and it truly is all about the band. There’s artwork and video content showcasing the famous members, in addition to the inclusion of some of the band’s best hits (like “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine”) on the soundtrack. And it’s not the only game of its kind. Similar games revolve around artists like Jimi Hendrix and Motörhead, all serving up classic rock themes and tunes in a gaming genre largely meant to attract younger generations.

 

Additionally we’ve also seen something of a return to games like Guitar Hero on mobile platforms in recent years. Naturally, the games are a little bit different. They don’t involve large fake plastic instruments when they’re taking place on mobile phones. But even touchscreen controls can allow for some fun simulation of classic songs. Guitar Hero Live makes for the most faithful adaptation, but there are also some additional games made by developers like SMULE that use the same idea (though sometimes with more modern song selections).

 

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues moving forward. But for now it’s fair to say that game developers have spent a decade resurrecting classic rock and keeping it popular among new fans.

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