A Gamer, a Racer, and a Rocker Walk Into a Party Tent...

July 2, 2008

By Gerry
Charles Huang (creator of Guitar Hero), Dario Franchitti (Guitar Hero: Aerosmith car driver), Brad Whitford (real guitar hero)

I was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway celebrating the release of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith when the game's developer, the race's No. 7 qualifier, and Aerosmith's rhythm guitarist started chatting me up. The highlights...

Brad, I saw you in the pits looking at Dario's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith car. You've been to a race or two and have a special collection of vehicles—is there one that you prize more than the others?

Brad Whitford: They're like my music: I like all types of music, I like all types of vehicles. I have some European cars and I have some American cars. I’m not a snob when it comes to that. One day I might be driving a '69 Camaro and the next day I might be driving a '07 Forrester.

OK, so Guitar Hero: Aerosmith—what does it mean for this Hall of Fame rock band to now have this kind of platform for its music?

Dario Franchitti: First of all, I have Guitar Hero because everybody loves the game. You see the amount of drivers out there; Jimmie Johnson’s out there getting beaten by his wife in Guitar Hero right now. All the guys would go back to the buses and have little tournaments because this is where we all live for four days a week. To be already playing the game and then have the opportunity to drive their car, it’s a reaction I haven’t ever seen by other people.

BW: There are so many fans of this game. It is just a real phenomenon, and it’s great that Aerosmith is part of it. We had a history of good fortune and this is just another page of that good fortune for us.

Why are people so bananas for these games?

Charles Huang: Music needed a shot in the arm. There hasn’t been anything new since, arguably, the music video. You start off listening to music, and we’ve done that for decades. Then music videos came out, now you can watch music. What we’ve done is given people that third dimension, so now you can interact with the music itself. In an era where the record industry is having trouble selling CDs and music downloads, in the first seven months of Guitar Hero 3, we’ve sold 16 million song downloads. When you give consumers a different experience with music, they are willing to pay for it.

DF: It’s like any game: you can do things that you would not normally be able to do. Years ago, I broke my back in a bike accident, so I was immobilized for a month or two. I just laid in front of a 12-foot screen in a recliner with a body brace on and played Tiger Woods Golf. Then I got my brace off and went golfing—I was pissed off that I couldn’t drive the ball 325 yards with spin on it.

Isn’t it weird opening up the game and seeing yourself there? I open up home videos and I don’t even see myself in them.

BW: I was all like, "Can you fix my hair there?" or "Can you make me a little bit younger?" It's not like watching yourself on a video saying, "Oh geez, I should have shaved today" or, "Man, I can’t believe I’m getting a pimple on my nose." It’s pretty cool. The details are incredible.

OK, cutting the crap, which Aerosmith song has gotten the most guys laid?

BW: I don’t know about myself, but we play these concerts and we see certain songs, like “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” and people are suddenly making out. It’s like whoa. People out there giving each other rings. It is amazing how people get really attached to certain types of music. It coincides with things that happened in your life and it stays with you.

CH: If I had to pick one, I would probably say "Sweet Emotion." Somehow that riff—yeah, that’s what I’d say.

Do you think some "Sweet Emotion" can happen while playing Guitar Hero: Aerosmith?

BW: You never know. Could be some X-rated game playing going on there.

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