Gaming musical instruments. Music has to be hard work!

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This article addresses the relationship between labour and learning a
popular musical instrument like the guitar in the specific context of
a video game. Most gamification theories promise that using a video
game makes it easy to learn (Kapp 2012; Deterding et al. 2011). Even
if this holds true, I argue that this kind of playfulness causes some
backlash, which I observed during an experiment in which students
played the music video game Rocksmith 2014.
Learning and playing the guitar through the medium of a video game
comes with diverse experiences as well as expectations that are closely
related to the dichotomies between play and work, often discussed in
game studies based on the famous texts by Johann Huizinga (2004)
and Roger Caillois (1960). Learning any traditional music instrument
requires much effort in several skill areas, for example, dexterity,
hearing, sight-reading, and performance. In other words, it seems to
be hard work and not at all playful like a video game. In this article,
the various aspects of playful work and labourious play, found in
both music education and guitar games, will be discussed against the
backdrop of empirical findings including data from online interviews,
research diaries and video recordings
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Culture & Society
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 17.09.2020