Game Mechanics For Real Life Skills: Learning Guitar With Rock Prodigy

By April 16, 2011
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Beginner musicians can use an iOS app to learn to play on their own guitar with a Guitar Hero-like interface. Instead of just earning points, users learn songs, chords and technique.

Instead of playing popular musician simulation games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, The Way of H, Inc wants gamers to put all the time and energy they would spend pushing buttons on a plastic axe into learning to use a real guitar. Released during the Game Developers Conference this year, the Rock Prodigy app runs on all recent iOS devices - iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and pitch recognizes notes as users learn on a real guitar.

Adapted from the song stream of music sim games, the app displays modified guitar tablature in a side scrolling motion, and the user follows the notes that correspond with four levels of difficulty. On the easy setting, each played note corresponds to as many as twenty actual song notes. Free to download, in-app purchases expand the repertoire with songs from The Allman Brothers, B.B. King and Johnny Cash, for example, while teaching tuning and scales.

Along with teaching people how to play songs and improve technique, Rock Prodigy has social media aspects - musicians can play together, as well as post their scores on Facebook and Twitter.

Designed by self-described "music nerds," the Appy Award 2011 finalist is meant for all levels of musicians - learning from scratch, practicing a particular song, etc. With the premium version of the app, the Practice Mode gives a pack of songs, more playback control, and a few lessons. Because the app recognizes pitch, it can be used with any guitar, acoustic or electric, as long as it is in tune.

There are many music sim games, even in the mobile category, as well as many teaching tool apps, but Rock Prodigy is one of the few tools developed that makes use of actual musical technique and game mechanics developed specifically for the mobile platform.

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