Diversity Is Good: New DLC, New View On Game Genre
I am horrible at keeping up with downloadable content [DLC] but thanks to the guys over at RunDLC and the GamesPress newswire a I usually hear about a few good things each week. This week however I got an interesting PR email in that nearly made me spit my coffee out onto my laptop.
In the past I have made no bones about the fact that I am a rhythm-based-game junkie [DJ Hero, Beatles Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Rhythm Heaven, you name it I've played it] but in all honesty I haven't touched MTV Games Rock Band 2 in a couple of months. The DLC announcement this morning will change that. MTV Games announced this morning that a pack of Otis Redding tracks will be making their way to the game next week, tracks including:
- "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”
- "Love Man”
- “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)”
It's an interesting mix to me, though in ways not surprising. The group at harmonix has always struck me as being true fans of music and creativity and while Mr. Redding's music was always more on the Blues-y side of R&B his music and way that he performed definitely influenced many artists across various musical genres that followed him. This is not the first track pack to come to Rock Band featuring either an artist or songs that were not and would never be classified as rock or metal [country music packs anyone?] but it is definitely one of the first steps to introduce a very new audience to a very non-mainstream artist. Adding to this selection of tracks, is Alphabeat's song "Fascination" and "Let Forever Be" by the Chemical Brothers. All tracks will be available on the 16th at the regular prices: $1.99 USD, £.99 UK, €1.49 EU [160 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360] per track, $8.49 USD, £4.39 UK, €6.55 EU [680 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360] for “Otis Redding Pack 01” and $2.00 USD [200 Wii Points™] per track. But this DLC pack really got me thinking. So much so that I ran through the internet to Wikipedia to get a current list of the DLC available to check something.
According to this list on Wikipedia, as of today there are nearly 875 tracks available as DLC for the Rock Band franchise [keep in mind not all tracks are compatible in the "Lego" flavor of the game] but as you read through the list it reads like a "Who's Who" guide to music appreciation. Bands and music that helped shape movements, generations that came before us [or are, in fact, us...I see you boomer gamers out there] to songs we identify through pop-culture references, there are all here. From Roy Orbison to Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who to The Ramones, The Pretenders to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Black Sabbath to The Gorillaz, Talking Heads to Willie Nelson, even Queen to James Brown! Then add in the pop-culture elements of the moment [MC Frontalot, Johnathan Coulton, and the mighty Stephen Colbert] and the content list is staggering. As I started sifting and sorting through it a question crossed my mind, "Is the rhythm-based game genre replacing my MTV?"
There is no denying that there is little "music" programming going on at M(sic) TeleVision these days and that's fine by me. Networks grow, and change and as the flagship of the network MTV is not immune to this. Much of it's constant music video programming has moved over to MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV Soul, etc, leaving the flagship station free to explore programming blocks that can bring in advertising revenue. There is still however a need or craving for music content that can not be denied, on-demand video consumption on the web is growing exponentially [youtube, vim, hulu, iTunes sales and rental] we are an entertainment-on-demand nation and what better way to cater to that need on the music topic than through a delivery system that puts the control in your users hot little hand?
Not clear enough? Let me put it this way. In Rock Band, my set lists are my music channel of the moment. From my library of on disc content as well as DLC I've chosen over the life of my game I put together my favorite songs of the moment to either [fake] play along with or sing along with. One half hour I may be feeling nostalgic so it's Billy Idol, Duran Duran, and Talking Heads. The next time I am in a more playful mood, so it's on to Colbert, Spinal Tap, and FreezePop. I chose the content. I chose the interaction. I have become my own programming manager. When I have friends over for a party, my channel becomes our channel and now this transforms into a shared experience. Like it's broadcast siblings before it, specialty programming channels are here with more being developed. We have a Beatles channel, the Green Day channel is coming with rumors of a U2 channel or The Who station off in the not-so-distant future and my silly little question suddenly doesn't seem so silly but leads me to another question that I'll end with, "If the rhythm game genre is the evolution of music video television, what is the next progressive step for the genre itself?"
Hit me back or blow up twitter with your responses. Use the hashtag #evoOFrhythm so I know who to be on the lookout for.