My Love Letter to Guitar Hero

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To my dearest Guitar Hero,

Wow. It’s been such a long time since we’ve talked, baby. I was doing my usual viewing of the interwebs yesterday and I saw your name keep popping up in me feed because of the earnings call and the news so I, I… felt compelled to reach out to you today.

Times have gotten ever so tough. I know. I have felt the pressure too but please don’t ever think I have ever forgotten about you.

I will always remember the good times, like the first time I played you – drinking at Hugh’s house, laughing during Hugh’s turn as he aggressively proclaimed himself to be the “Greatest Human Being EVER!” because he could play White Zombie on Hard whilst drunk.

I’m sure you remember the time at the Guitar Hero III launch party, when Poison played on the roof of the Best Buy? I remember the giant cookies, the light show – “Free Beers Tomorrow!” – and getting to play Kool Thing and singing it loudly while inebriated on vodka tonics with strangers that night.

I remember that when the opportunity arose, a position as community manager at Neversoft, working in support of all the things that you do, I was so thrilled and nervous but I knew I had to do it. I had to work with you. That job would allow my inner music junkie to come out and play, plus it would allow me to return to my beloved consoles again… I knew, I KNEW, I had to make the jump despite my comfy Mouse-type surroundings and super great team. Nothing like chasing after a dream, right?

And there I was. Spending time at the Neversoft Christmas parties in Vegas, learning, laughing with my co-workers, talking about music, talking to the community about music, trying to learn the ins-and-outs of your huge world, working with countless marketing/PR/digital media teams, and becoming totally immersed in your chaotic world. I was a team of one on the dev side – I was the only web person and community person on staff at Neversoft. Sure, we had a team of offsite mods… and there was your big brother AT-VEE and all their crew, but it really was mostly just you and me.

We had lots of obstacles, shared a lot of late nights, got beatdown like we owed money by our own community – all because we didn’t put out enough songs, we didn’t give out enough prizes, we didn’t run our show like our “rival” did. I know… All that stress started to come between us. I never wanted it to. I never wanted to be angry but somehow it happened. Remember how many fights we diffused on the old forums? I believed in playing nice. Remember all the changes we wanted to make but saw most of them get swept away? Yea. Those were the dark times, honey.

I wish it could have been more good times, more Play with the Dev nights, where we talked to fans and watched them wow us with their high scores, more events, more… fun, less stress. It broke us. It broke me. I didn’t want to touch you some nights when I came home, opting instead to play Borderlands. (I know you don’t want me to talk about that but it’s true. We can’t hide from the truth and pretend it didn’t happen)

I remember the hopes we had for Guitar Hero 5. How we completely relaunched the website, all the work, the sacrifices – there was so much we had to give up on because we were told it couldn’t be done. But that didn’t mean that we didn’t try to fight for it anyway… But the scene had already changed. People weren’t as interested in what we had to say anymore. We came out with a game that I know the team was proud of, I was proud of it and for being a part of such an incredible team at the ‘Soft but the world didn’t agree with us as much.

That’s when I knew our foundation was cracking further and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be repaired.

Then, it happened. You broke up with me – granted, I knew it wasn’t working and I was looking elsewhere and it wasn’t just me you broke up with. I also know it wasn’t your decision either. Sometimes I wish your big brother didn’t feel the need to break people apart but anyway, it happened. You broke up with a lot of great Neversofters that day. (I knew you didn’t exclusively belong to me but to break up with so many people at once, it was shocking)

I was such a jumble of emotions. I was angry at seeing good people have to figure out what to do now that they didn’t have the rock ‘n’ roll paying the bills. Sad that things were getting ready to change in a big way for all of us and in a weird way, happy. I had another opportunity at that point and was getting the eyes from Austin and BioWare, so I left and figured I wouldn’t look back.

I did look back though. Like most exes, I decided to you know, check in and see how you were doing via the anonymous web visit. I visited our old forums. They are so sad from what they used to be. The devs Twitter account still only contains the last tweet I did in February of 2010. No new blog posts either. I told myself I really shouldn’t check those anymore. It isn’t good for me.

And now, this. No new year for you. Sure, there will be some DLC, but wow. You are taking a break from all the hullabaloo. I get it. But what about everybody else? I felt all that hurt and confusion all over again yesterday when I saw what was going down. I was angry when I saw the comments coming saying you were dead already… it just… hurt. There were so many good people standing with you. And now, it done.

You had quite the legacy. You partied hard. You made a rockin’ name for yourself and then faded away, like many rock stars do. You will always hold a special place in my heart and I hope that one day, you can do something new and be resurrected. Maybe years from now, a new version of you will appear and will delight the hearts of my kids’ kids. And I can look at you all botoxed and shiny from plastic surgery and say, yea, I remember seeing you during your garage days, working and loving you during your heyday and then seeing you fade into oblivion before coming back again because I do believe, you will be back.

Take care and rock on,

Stephanie

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10 thoughts on “My Love Letter to Guitar Hero

  1. Burnination_Inc

    Hands-down best Guitar Hero memories?

    Unlocking the Battle Axe in GH1.

    Buying the issue of Official PlayStation Magazine just for the GH2 demo, and subsequently playing the same four songs all night long with my roommates.

    FINALLY five-starring Expert Career in GH3, after 15 months and two broken Xplorers.

    Playing Expert+ drums for the first time and realizing I was in over my head.

    Trying at least two hundred times to get that blasted co-op achievement to unlock for breaking one million on a song in GH3. (At least my buddy in Scotland got it to work. XD)

  2. Gerglebag

    I remember the first time I saw GH. Thought it was a joke. Fast forward two weeks, and I was FC’ing “Unsung” on Medium (hey, it meant something to me!) I remember buying one of the wireless flying V guitars that TAC made, and walking out a good 20 feet into the middle of the mall I worked at while playing, and no one knew what to think. It was awesome.

    Sure, other games came to town. Sure, I might’ve been more in line with them… and I might’ve spent more money on them. But I’ll never forget my first 3-button chord, and I’ll never forget who I had it with.

  3. Chris Glass

    My best memory was the Guitar Hero World Tour press event. I got invited because I had been an active poster on NeoGaf. I got to meet a lot of great people that day and re-discover a lot of GREAT songs. But the best one was getting to play hard bass on Prisoners of Society. The whole beat of that, going along with the new open bass charting, was something that I really loved. It was the first time I really felt like I was playing the music.

  4. dc32

    I remember hearing about the 1st game coming out in gaming mags and websites thinking, “hmm, that looks cool,” but I didn’t jump in right away. Then one day I was in a Gamestop and they had a demo, figured I should try it and see what all the fuss is about. So I strapped on a plastic guitar for the first time, and go into the menu and see Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ (or cover of). “Hey, I like that song!” And that was it, I had to have this. I didn’t buy it that day, but it was within the next few days I was in Target and it was on sale too, a sign it was meant to be.

    So off I play, eventually getting through all the songs on Easy, then Medium. But for the life of me I could not beat any song on Hard. Then GH2 came out. Holy crap, Freebird! I get a little better, I can beat some songs on Hard, but not all of them. I never even attempted Expert back then.

    A year later, GH3 is about to come out, but there’s this other game coming too, and it’s got drums! So I decided to (unknowingly) follow Harmonix into their new venture, and I stayed with them until this day. Though I did pick up GH: World Tour but only after it had been out and already marked down to clearance. But “Guitar Hero” is what got me into the genre that I’ve been playing almost daily for the past 6 years, and I say thanks, you’ll be missed.

  5. xboxsonic

    I dunno what to say but GH is meaning HUGE to me. my first GH experience was GH III on Xbox(I don’t have a PS2 or something), I had a blast with it the first time I put my fingers on my plastic Les Paul. I’ve never played RB(except the Lego one) just b/c I’m a GH hardcore. and what is a hardcore? not just addicted to FCs and high scores, I even name my son under GH! I named my second child Johnny b/c Johnny Napalm is my fav character in GH.
    GH introduces various rock to me and I’m doing well with it, plus I’ve got many good friends in real life loving it too, we had many GH parties in the past years, so much fun in my house. it really gives me more than you can imagine. another good reason to keep rocking on is the community and Stephanie you really did well when you’re at Neversoft.
    I’m sad on the news, very very sad. I know we can’t change something but I can still show my love and support to my fav game for years. love will never change.

  6. Gouki

    Thunderhorse. I remember seeing the Guitar Hero episode of Metalocalypse and Wal-Mart had a GH 2 kiosk. I saw that someone had unlocked Thunderhorse and I had to try it…ever since then sold…..but I hadn’t bought it yet…then I go to the Gamestop in town and noticed something I had missed earlier, John the Fisherman was included. I LOVE Primus. SO I bought it. I got the first one as I had heard Symphony of Destruction was included. And I loved that and Cowboys from Hell…moving on Play With Me by Extreme became my favorite song to play when the 80’s game came out…anyway, I fell out of the GH games after 3 came out. And then the Metallica game was the last one I played. Orion is still the most epic song on Guitar Hero.

  7. stealthcat

    When you first graduate to hard from medium and that orange button comes up! I think when you first start nailing the 5th button, a sense of satisfaction sweeps over you.

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