At family parties when I was younger, all the cousins would squabble for possession over whatever gaming console was in the house. While the boys would spend most the afternoon playing Golden Eye, the girls would be fighting to play the greatest, best video game God has ever given man on the face of the earth...Mario Cart.
On occasion we could convince the boys to stay and play Mario Cart with us, but our pleas were no match for 007 reenactments around the house, Nerf-style. But really I think they were just fearful of our domination over Rainbow Road.
With the exception of perhaps Mortal Combat, there were very few video games on which we could all agree. However, with my brother's Christmas time purchase of Guitar Hero suddenly we aren't fighting over the game, but rather possession of the "controller." At our last Christmas party, most of the cousins were crammed into my brother's bedroom touring together on Guitar Hero. Amazingly, for a while we even had my mom and aunt in on the gig.
The emergence of Guitar Hero and Rock Band has united the sexes, and seemingly, even different generations. What is it about these games that makes them universally appealing?
Personally, the only reason I can beat people in Mortal Combat and boxing games is because I don't think. I just push. The remote controllers seem a little too abstract for my taste, and quite honestly I just don't want to take the time to read the instruction manual on what combinations I use to do Scorpion's fatality move. However, a plastic guitar...no problem. Banging on the drums, singing into a microphone and jamming on a guitar is something we think we can all manage to some degree - so long as you are open to making a fool of yourself from time to time, which I guarantee my family has no qualms about.
Although I have yet to play it, I imagine within the next year the popular holiday party house will be whichever one has a Wii console. As
these games begin to simulate activities we all recognize and enjoy, they become less intimidating to the gaming novice and therefore more inclusive. Who knows, maybe by next Christmas Grandma may
bust out her hidden accordion talents in Guitar Hero XIII - the folk music version.