Buried in the middle of a nearly 9,000 world article in the New York Times is the revelation that seminal Beatles albums Rubber Soul and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band will join Abbey Road as downloadable content for The Beatles: Rock Band game set to be released on September 9th. The albums will be available some time after the game's release. I hope that, eventually, the entire Beatles catalog will be out on Rock Band.
We also learn that, to protect the integrity of the Fab Four's music, Harmonix included no drum fills in the game, nor "big rock endings." The game will not allow The Beatles to be booed offstage either, and there is no crowd feedback in the later stages of the game -- again, to protect the mythological aspects of The Beatles. Also because later Beatles did not tour.
The above paragraph represents the news -- fascinating, right? But I've spent the last hour or so reading the Times article, and it's seriously like porn for a video game and Beatles freak. The Times goes lovingly into depth about the development, meaning and thought process behind the The Beatles: Rock Band, looking at the game in terms of its sociological, financial and creative milieu.
Along the way, the Times assuages a nagging fear I've had ever since The Beatles: Rock Band was announced -- that it was destined to be piece of shovelware merchandising not worthy of The Beatles' music. While I seriously doubt this game (or any game) could ascend to the creative heights the Beatles' music enjoyed, it's clear that Harmonix took its responsibility seriously. Not only were Ringo, Yoko, Dhani Harrison and Paul involved creatively, the offices of rank-and-file Harmonix employees are reportedly festooned with posters of Paul reading "Don't F*ck This Up." The son of The Beatles original producer supervised the re-mastering, and went as far as recording ambient sounds in The Beatles' Abbey Road studios.
The Times delves deeply into the artistic decisions made by the game's developers, including The Beatles: Rock Band's look and feel that is halfway between realism and fantasy...like the Beatles themselves: Part band. Part mythological musical giants.
We even learn why some people hate Rock Band and Guitar Hero so much: It's called "Schizophonia," the word for an unsettled feeling caused by a separation of music from its source. It used to freak people out to hear recorded music, and now it freaks people out to "play" music in video game. Who knew there was a word for that?
Seriously, go read the New York Times article -- it's a thing of great beauty, perhaps the most interesting article I've ever read about video games. They even manage to find a John Lennon quote that relates perfectly to gaming: "A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality."