How Rock N’ Roll is Finding New Audiences Through Online Gaming

As long-time readers of Distract can attest to, rock n’ roll is a cultural force that has influenced the evolution of various music genres, fashion, art, and global events. In the past decades, rock n’ roll music itself has evolved alongside the Internet, presenting many avenues for new musicians to break into the limelight and older rock n’ rollers to stay relevant amid the content-saturated age. Rock n’ roll is definitely alive and well, and it continues to stay kicking as well through the many online gaming platforms available to players today.

The first games to introduce online gaming to the world of rock n’ roll were Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Both were created by revolutionary gaming company Harmonix who first designed the unique and iconic guitar and drum controls currently used by rhythm games. While Guitar Hero focused on the single player experience and only had a multiplayer option when the third game came out, Rock Band embraced multiplayer from the start. Apart from introducing multiple instruments, Harmonix designed Rock Band for cooperative online play, allowing players to either collaborate or compete with each other while performing some of the best rock n’ roll songs in history. The Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Motley Crue, Dreamtheater, Sleater Kinney, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are just some of the songs that can be played in Rock Band’s single or multiplayer modes. From the release of the first Guitar Hero in 2007, to the latest Rock Band game in 2017, Harmonix’s creations introduced countless players to new and classic rock.

In 2020, the company released Fuser, a unique new video game designed to provide a virtual space for up to four people acting as DJs and eight other people as the audience. The game is essentially a fully-realised virtual venue for mini concerts, featuring 3D models of festival stages, DJs, and audiences. As impressive as the visuals are, the game’s main feature is its eclectic collection of licensed songs, ranging from The Killers and Rage Against the Machine to DMX, Childish Gambino, and Donna Summer. Combined with the cooperative gameplay between four DJs, the wide selection of usable songs on Fuser is keeping rock n’ roll alive in the eclectic playlists of PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One players.

While Harmonix is keeping rock n’ roll alive for console and PC multiplayer gamers, gaming companies NetEnt and Play ‘N Go are doing the same for browser and mobile online casino players. In 2016, NetEnt became the first game developer to create and release online casino games based on the biggest names in rock. On the popular online casino platform TuxSlots, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Motörhead, and Guns N’ Roses all have dedicated NetEnt online slots featuring not just the artists’ music but their likenesses as well. Despite the ongoing legal debacles within the Hendrix estate as well as the rumoured animosities between members of Guns N’ Roses, these games continue to be highly popular among online slot players, bringing classic and seminal rock n’ roll to the ears of the Internet generation. Meanwhile, on the same online casino platform, Play ‘N Go’s slot games dedicated to the lesser-known rock bands Demon and Annihilator are going in a slightly different direction – introducing new thrash and rock to older rock n’ rollers that frequent the gaming website.

Not surprisingly, the online gaming industry is ripe with many opportunities for rock n’ roll musicians to either get or stay relevant. In rock n’ roll’s quest to dominate the world, the online gaming world is definitely going along for the ride.

CREDIT: Raph_PH under CC BY 2.0 License – No changes were made to the image.
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