Playing guitar while playing video games: An experiment with students learning to play the guitar by playing Rocksmith

Ludomusicology-conference at Bath Spa University (abstract)

In the academic year 2016/17 18 students of Cultural Studies (pathway Media Studies) at the University of Hildesheim, Germany, participated in an experiment on learning to play the electric guitar by playing the video game Rocksmith. According to an advertisement on the website of the developing company Ubisoft anyone could learn to play the guitar in 60 days using the software one hour per day ( These conditions served as basic framework for the experiment. Besides playing the game students discussed experiences and progress on a weekly basis. They also did several recordings (sound and audiovisual) and presented the achieved skills at the end of the semester in a concert-like situation.

For my ongoing research regarding the perspective on music as game and the possibilities to achieve musical skills in videogames I took the opportunity to collect a large amount of empirical data during that experiment. Thus students had to take part in an online survey at the beginning and at the end of the experiment and had to write a weekly diary to reflect on their usage of the video game and their progress in guitar playing. Besides the students have been recorded three times during the experiment in a way that their performances could be analysed and evaluated by different guitar teachers. Despite this being a project whose evaluation is not finished yet, I would like to show first results and provide for deeper insights.