We had dinner at a friends' house tonight and enjoyed some adult socializing while our three sets of kids played (and occasionally fought over) Lego Rock Band on the host family's Wii. Once we sorted out who got to play what instrument and when, I was fascinated to see how hard they worked at their drumming tasks.
Last year Noel made an offhand comment that he'd like to have Rock Band, and I made a stab at researching the purchase for Christmas. It was daunting -- nothing seemed to come bundled, there were too many options, and in the end we thought about all the other games we'd bought for us and not for the kids and never play, and decided not to do it.
Now I think we might be interested in getting it for the kids. Archer's one weak area musically is keeping a steady beat, and I saw how much the game feedback mattered in that respect; whenever he stopped getting points, he slowed down and worked harder at staying in rhythm. Cady Gray became so delighted with the effects of hitting the booming tom on "We Are The Champions" that she became more and more demonstrative, lifting the stick over her head and engaging in a bit of proto-headbanging.
I still don't know how to assemble all the parts, and I'm sure the cost will give me pause. But now it's not just a matter of something that might be amusing. I see how hard my kids work, how dedicated they are to mastering these games. Anything that inspires that kind of effort gets my attention. No matter what skill they're trying to acquire -- even if its something as utterly useless as mashing buttons int he right sequence -- what they're really practicing is perseverance, willingness to fail, and using feedback to improve. If those lessons come with a better sense of rhythm and familiarity with some classic rock, that's just icing on the cake.