The Time Is Right for Novel Input Devices

As I mentioned earlier, Rock Band 2 is out. Guitar Hero: World Tour (a.k.a. Guitar Hero IV) is not far behind. These games are doing extremely well, and I’m not surprised. I have fond memories of playing the original Power Pad for Nintendo. I’m glad to see a new generation of novel input devices for games because games have really stuck with standard controls for the last 15 years. Sure, there was a Zapper, Power Glove, Donkey Kong Bongos, and DDR, but games have not explored the space until recently. Think of the slew of games for the iPhone, the Wii, and instrument-driven games—we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg! Beyond that, research into augmented reality (it’s like virtual reality) has come a long way. This is an exciting time for gamers, indeed.

Beyond being a great time for gamers, it’s a great time for developers! iPhone developers are doing well, the same could be possible for anyone related to music! There is a huge opportunity for instrument-driven games, but game makers and the RIAA can’t determine how to divide the massive profits (Rock band has over 21M song downloads; Guitar Hero has over 10M song downloads).

Rock Band/Guitar Hero should take a page from Apple and publish a development kit. This development kit would allow people to put music into a format usable by instrument-driven games. Make it easy for people to create content and let them do the development for you! Hosting is cheap: set up a repository for musicians to submit their transcribed songs into and allow users to access the library; sell advertising, let musicians or the free market determine pricing; split profits.

These platforms are a great way to get your music known! There are opportunities for challenging songs, easy songs, fun party songs and more! Obscure and popular bands alike can profit. And fans would profit too. If the average person could grasp song structure and technical difficulty, it would educate the masses on music, allow more people into the creative process, raise the bar on musicians, and generally be awesome.

I’d also like to see new games being developed using the existing novel input devices. Now that we have gyros and guitars, innovate on the ways to use the tools. It can be done; check out this kid playing Devil May Cry with the Guitar Hero axe.

There’s so much possibility! The time is right for novel input devices. Let’s hope that content developers, hosting providers, and platform creators can agree on models that are good for the consumer.