Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Guitar Hero Works


Guitar Hero Culture
Heromania: Guitar Hero's popularity extends beyond the traditional gamer group to more general audiences.
Heromania: Guitar Hero's popularity extends beyond the traditional gamer group to more general audiences.
Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

On March 14, 2008, Chris Chike was transformed from mere mortal to a rock god. The 16-year-old from Rochester, Minn., snatched the "Guitar Hero III" world record for the highest score on a single song with 840,647 points earned on the track "Through Fire and Flames." During the performance, Chike stared intently at the screen, as though possessed by the spirit of rock 'n' roll while fans and media crowded around him. His fingers whizzed across the fret buttons as his thumb gyrated up and down on the strum bar. At the end of the song, the Guitar Hero replied succinctly, "You Rock."

Interestingly, the half a million YouTube hits of Chike's accomplishment pales in comparison to the 7.4 million views of "Conrad the Great" and the 4 million of 9-year-old Ben Eberle battling the same song. Indeed, the prevalence of Guitar Hero-related videos on YouTube -- and the astounding number of people who have watched them -- perhaps represents the most solid proof of the cultural obsession with this game. Bars now host Guitar Hero nights, and many a partygoer has joined a hypnotized throng of Guitar Hero addicts. The message board on the official Web site recorded more than 111,000 comments about the release of "Guitar Hero III." ScoreHero.com now allows players to publish their own scores to see how they match up to the rest of the world.

Then, there are the tournaments. If you live in a large metropolitan area, chances are, there's a Guitar Hero tournament scheduled nearby. RedOctane, the Guitar Hero creators, sponsors a number of tournaments through Beaguitarhero.com. Some tournies are for pure competition, while others may have charity tie-ins. If anything, these events take the winners beyond virtual victory and put them in front of real people. In this sense, tournaments may be the closest Guitar Hero prodigies get to true rock 'n' roll fame.

With the success of Guitar Hero and its rival Rock Band, rhythm-based video games have set a new standard for entertainment. Rockers of the world, rejoice.

For more information about Guitar Hero, check out the links on the next page.


More to Explore