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Back in the day, playing with plastic guitars was a thing and it sold like pancakes. I was fortunate enough to jump into Guitar Hero 3 before many of my peers and, owning to the fact that my brothers and I were sharing the same savefile, we collectively beat the game and entered into competitive mode between ourselves in a few afternoons.

Also, I was young and foolish,1 and I had recently switched from studying Biochemistry at the State University to an Environmental Engineering program at the State Polytechnic, 1st generation. This meant that the first year or so I had virtually no academic struggles. Since my grades were good and I was reading a lot in my commute, the next logical thing for a 21 year old kid was to spend lots of time playing video games.

With time I became good at the game. «Good» in the sense that I had most of the records on Hard difficulty on our savefile. «Good» in the sense that I was beginning to memorize entire songs so I could play with my back to the TV. «Good» in the sense that I wasn’t struggling with anything else in my life at that moment.

One of our friends lived across the street from the University and we would usually gather there for studying sessions. I would show up with my work already done so I could play GH3 while «helping» my peers with their homework. It took a good while for me to realize how arrogant I seemed, not only playing while my friends worked, but also urging them to play only the «good» songs in the game, regardless of their ability or interest.

I haven’t played any kind of guitar-based videogames in almost a decade. My life also got real in the sense that proper struggles caught up with me to remind me how good I had it and to teach me to stop with these silly judgments on others. In order to fully atone for my mistakes, I’ll present to you a sample of what used to cross my mind back then. Maybe self-humilliation is the way to really take in this lesson.

1. Starting Out Small

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1975 “Slow Ride” Foghat
Optional 1987 “Talk Dirty to Me” Poison
Optional 1980 “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” Pat Benatar
Optional 1990 “Story of My Life” Social Distortion
Encore 1975 “Rock and Roll All Nite” Kiss

This category was entirely for newbies. Choosing a song from this set after playing the game a few times meant you were some sort of coward.

2. Your First Real Gig

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1970 “Mississippi Queen” Mountain
Optional 1972 “School’s Out” Alice Cooper
Optional 1968 “Sunshine of Your Love” Cream
Optional 1977 “Barracuda” Heart
Boss battle 2007 “Guitar Battle vs. Tom Morello” Tom Morello
Encore 1996 “Bulls on Parade” Rage Against the Machine

Good for you if you chose to rock out to Alice Cooper, actually! Also, I used to respect you a little bit more if you chose to play “Barracuda” on higher difficulties, mostly because you needed to strum faster and in rhythm. You also got brownie points for deliberately battling any boss.

3. Making the Video

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 2006 “When You Were Young” The Killers
Optional 2006 “Miss Murder” AFI
Optional 1970 “The Seeker” The Who
Optional 2006 “Lay Down” Priestess
Encore 1966 “Paint It Black” The Rolling Stones

Points for you if you chose The Who, because back then I thought almost no one knew who The Who were. Playing “When You Were Young” was only for posers, “Paint It Black” was for pros.

4. European Invasion

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1970 “Paranoid” Black Sabbath
Optional 2007 “Anarchy in the U.K.” Sex Pistols
Optional 1990 “Kool Thing” Sonic Youth
Optional 1994 “My Name Is Jonas” Weezer
Encore 1991 “Even Flow” Pearl Jam

“My Name is Jonas” was also for cowards: why else choose a song with such simple rhythm? It was all da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da. Over and over again. Even more, choosing it over Pearl Jam, over Black Sabbath was a crime against music itself. You got brownie points for knowing who the Sex Pistols were (see the note above about The Who)

5. Big House Blues

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1980 “Holiday in Cambodia” Dead Kennedys
Optional 1984 “Rock You Like a Hurricane” Scorpions
Optional 1974 “Same Old Song and Dance” Aerosmith
Optional 1973 “La Grange” ZZ Top
Boss battle 2007 “Guitar Battle vs. Slash” Slash
Optional 1987 “Welcome to the Jungle” Guns N’ Roses

Despite being the bonus song, “Welcome to the Jungle” was also for posers who said they liked “classic rock”. True Players would choose “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, “Same Old Song and Dance” and “La Grange”, in that order, in the highest difficulty.

6. Hottest Band on Earth

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1970 “Black Magic Woman” Santana
Optional 1993 “Cherub Rock” The Smashing Pumpkins
Optional 1992 “Black Sunshine” White Zombie
Optional 2006 “The Metal” Tenacious D
Encore 1983 “Pride and Joy” Stevie Ray Vaughan

Picking anything on this set, with the exception of “Cherub Rock” would be a test of your abilities and good taste. These were a rite of passage, the first “real” songs to become good at GH3

7. Live in Japan

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 2004 “Before I Forget” Slipknot
Optional 2005 “Stricken” Disturbed
Optional 2007 “3’s & 7’s” Queens of the Stone Age
Optional 2006 “Knights of Cydonia” Muse
Optional 2007 “Cult of Personality” Living Colour

Pick “Knights of Cydonia” to train stamina, mostly at the end when you have to play many triplets over and over, and then repeat the last riff 20 times or so. Playing “Stricken” or “Cult of Personality” were signs of a mature player.

8. Battle for Your Soul

Type Year Title Artist
Optional 1986 “Raining Blood” Slayer
Optional 1990 “Cliffs of Dover” Eric Johnson
Optional 1982 “The Number of the Beast” Iron Maiden
Optional 1988 “One” Metallica
Boss battle 2007 “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” Steve Ouimette (Inspired by The Charlie Daniels Band)

Playing these with anything less than 4 buttons2 would make you an instant poser who wanted to show off. Additionally, when playing “Cliffs of Dover”, you had to use hammer-ons, or else you would be playing incorrectly.


Why did I think that? No idea. I measured your self by my own standards. You were good only if you liked what I liked and if you played what I played. I regret those silly actions and the hurtful things I said. If nothing else, I learned a lesson from a videogame, even if it came a little too late.



THE IRON NODER CHALLENGE XII: WE'LL RUST WHEN WE'RE DEAD


  1. I am marginally less fool now, for those wondering

  2. If I recall correctly, this meant “Medium” difficulty