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In-Depth: Inside The  Guitar Hero  Census

In-Depth: Inside The Guitar Hero Census Exclusive

August 21, 2008 | By Staff

August 21, 2008 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

A new survey of Guitar Hero and Rock Band players by Brown University ethnomusicologist Kiri Miller has revealed some fascinating trends, including the fact that 76 percent of the players bought music they heard in the game, and 69 percent often play in multiplayer modes.

The initial results from Miller, who has previously written on the subject for Gamasutra sister site GameSetWatch and has given permission for the stats to be reprinted here, were first revealed on her 'Guitar Hero Research' weblog.

She explained: "As of this writing I have received 414 responses. Survey respondents were self-selecting; most heard about the survey through recruitment messages posted on several high-traffic online messageboards devoted specifically to these game"

However, even given this, Miller noted that "...the content and range of the qualitative responses in the surveys does seem to match the range of perspectives I have encountered through other research channels."

Some of the highlights of the research to date on these 'core' players of music games reveal:

- 88% male, 11% female, 1% intergender/trans/other
- 60% aged 21 or younger, 23% aged 22-30, 17% over 30
- 100% have played some version of Guitar Hero; 37% have also played Rock Band
- 93% own some version of Guitar Hero; 25% own both Guitar Hero and Rock Band
- 45% typically play for 1-2 hours at a time
- 16% usually play at the “easy” or “medium” difficulty levels; 19% at “hard”; 64% at “expert”
- 76% have used “practice mode” (which breaks songs down into short sections that can be drilled at slower tempos)
- 57% often play with other people watching; 69% often play in a multiplayer mode
- only 41% reported having much prior familiarity with ≥ 50% of the songs included in the games
- 79% stated that the games increased their appreciation for new songs/genres; 76% had added new music to their listening collections because of the games
- 73% had experience playing an instrument; 49% (of all respondents) had experience playing guitar; 32% had played in a band; 14% regularly performed music in public
- 34% reported feeling creative during gameplay

Miller noted as part of her weblog post: "While I must re-emphasize the caveat that these statistics are not necessarily representative of all players, it does seem important that nearly three-quarters of respondents had played an instrument -- particularly given that respondents were recruited primarily from gamer discussion boards (as opposed to some more specifically music-oriented population)."

She concluded: "This fact stands in intriguing tension with the mission statement often repeated in media interviews with Harmonix designers: 'to give that awesome feeling [of performing music] to people who aren't musicians, who would never get to have it'."

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