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 PaRappa 's Matsuura: How Do We Stop  Guitar Hero  Controller Waste?
PaRappa's Matsuura: How Do We Stop Guitar Hero Controller Waste? Exclusive
March 6, 2009 | By Staff

March 6, 2009 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

PaRappa creator and NaNaOn-Sha head Masaya Matsuura has been thinking about rhythm game peripherals. On one hand, if they were too much like musical instruments, people might never try real ones -- something important to Matsuura.

But as a player, he still wants to feel a sense of the instrument. "I really want to feel as if I'm playing the actual guitar," he says in a Gamasutra feature interview. "Of course the game controller and the real guitar, there's a very big difference between them, but if I can overcome these kinds of differences by making good software..."

"Maybe that is what's interesting to me," he adds. "I really want to make the experience appeal derive from playing the software. It's a very potent thing."

Matsuura believes "the game controller is enough as a musical instrument," but also wonders about what will happen to the controllers in the post-Guitar Hero and Rock Band era.

"I'm also curious and wondering about, how about five years from now, when not so many people are playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band anymore," he said. "The many guitar controllers or drum controllers made of plastic, where do they go?"

"Have you ever seen that, in Africa, some countries are accepting e-waste from Europe? I saw so many CD and cassette players. I really don't like that kind of situation, [which is increased] by having the certain game software peripherals."

Real instruments, of course, never end up as e-waste. "I really respect and appreciate that a real instrument is much more important in one single human's life," said Matsuura, recalling a friend who plays a 500 year-old cello.

"Five hundred years ago is a very nice duration to make a musical instrument. Maybe at least five or 10 players are playing that instrument."

You can now read the full feature, in which Matsuura, currently developing Major Minor's Majestic March, talks music games and the relationship between musicians and game audiences, the advancement of technology, and more (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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Gregory Kinneman
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I find it strange that one would worry about a controller becoming too much like a musical instrument. Why the fear that people wouldn't play the real thing? If an electronic controller was close enough to the real thing, wouldn't it be an instrument in its own right? Look at the early electric keyboards, which were simply a voltage controllers linked up to speakers. They weren't "real" instruments in their day (they could just as easily been wired to lights and made to act as dimmer switches) but they were close enough that people began using them as musical instruments.

I think making the controllers more and more like the real thing will instead encourage people to buy less; instead of buying both a drum controller machine and a drum kit, they'll just buy the controller.

Thomas Grove
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Matsuura-san looks like Bruce Lee in that photo!

John Petersen
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I expressed similar concerns awhile back about those subjects, and am glad someone on the inside has taken notice too.

There are ways, but someone has to take the initiative.

Kimberly Unger
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Interestingly enough, we've been using discarded controllers (mostly guitars) in our make-believe room at my child's preschool. We have quite the group of 3-5yr old rock-n-rollers now. Even though the guitar controllers don't function, the kids will carry them all around the school and give little pantomime mini-concerts

Tim Hesse
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Another man's trash...

A valid point but I think that in the grand scheme of things guitar controllers pale in comparison to plastic bags, plastic 'wrapping' water bottles and numerous other items people use on a day to day basis.

Spencer McFerrin
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...Why don't we just start throwing plastic waste into volcanoes? Hasn't anyone ever seen Lord of the Rings?

Jamie Mann
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It's kind of an odd thing to worry about - the guitars will end up in the same place as all the other obsolete gaming consoles and peripherals - charity shops, flea markets, landfill, donated to younger siblings or just buried in the back of a cupboard.

I'd wager that there's far more unused steering wheels, joypads and lightguns than guitars!