Rock Band is BIG

So the UPS guy just showed up at my place with two giant boxes containing Rock Band, the play-along-with-the-music game created by the MIT geeks behind the Guitar Hero phenom. Rock Band cranks the volume up to 11 by letting four players - thus, the band - in on the action: a vocalist, bassist, guitarist, and drummer. The set-up is just like Guitar Hero - or Dance Dance Revolution - where you've got to pound, thwak, and thump in sync with a corresponding cascade of multi-colored dots on screen.

As Spectrum's Harry Goldstein can now attest (after a crack at Guitar Hero III with me last night), it's harder than it sounds. But here's the thing that's even harder about Rock Band - where do you put it? The game - with all the peripherals (drum, geetars, mike) - demands a basement, or, in my case, an understanding wife. In fact, this new generation of vidgames is flagrantly BIG and space-hungry. You can't play the Wii unless you have room to jump around. Same goes for EyeToy on the Sony or DDR or Guitar Hero, the list goes on. So games aren't just evolving into new forms of hardware and software, they're changing our environments, reshaping our recreation spaces. They're taking over!

So what should we call the burgeoning genre of gaming: the get-off-the-couch and thrash/jump/hop breeds?

Body games?

Enviro-games?

Couchless?

Sofa-free?

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Sandbox

IEEE Spectrum’s gaming blog was retired in 2010, but it is preserved here for archival reference.

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