The music game genre is not dead. While Activision may have scaled back it’s "Guitar Hero" strategy (mercifully so, say some), a number of smaller developers are coming out with a new twist on the category that leans heavily on teaching gamers to play real instruments rather than pretend to do so on plastic controllers.

One game expected to make a splash at next week’s E3 Expo videogame conference is "Power Gig: Rise of the SixString," from Seven45 Studios. The developers today announced exclusive content agreements to gain music from Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews Band and Kid Rock for the game. Expected out in October, PowerGig uses a guitar peripheral that is a fully-functioning six-string guitar.

From the release:
Power Gig: Rise of the SixString will be the true evolution of the band videogame experience when it arrives this fall with a genuine six string guitar as controller. The guitar features Seven45’s proprietary technology that can distinguish and recognize gamers’ input all along the guitar, making the guitars as easy to pick up and play as any other band game button controllers. They also include all the guts of an electric guitar so players can plug their SixString guitars into any standard amplifier. In addition to traditional beat-matching that will be familiar to fans of the band game genre, Power Gig also introduces the option to switch on chording, which presents the added challenge of playing the game using chords that require specific finger placement on the strings. As players progress through the game, becoming more comfortable with a genuine guitar and potentially choosing to play real power chords, they will find that the byproduct of playing the game is coming away from it with an understanding of some real-life guitar fundamentals.


The company also introduced its AirStrike drum controller, as sort of “air-drumming” peripheral also designed to teach real-life drumming technique.

From the release:
The AirStrike drum controller consists of two drumsticks and a small unit that rests by the player’s feet that features unique technology that can differentiate the right drumstick from the left. It is this recognition that allows gamers to play the drums with much more true-to-life movement than the drum game peripherals already on the market. This new, engaging style of drum gameplay offers opportunity both for more creativity and more challenge. An added benefit to the design is that the AirStrike is more portable and convenient for gamers who don’t want to clutter their homes with large toy drum units.

The word on the videogame street is that other music-based games planned for later this year will also lean more heavily towards the educational front, with a similar tactic rumored in the next iteration of "Rock Band 3." Other evolutions include a heavy expansion into dance-based games with the introduction of motion-based cameras like the soon-to-launch Project Natal from Microsoft, and a quantum leap in 3D gaming technology.

Billboard will be attending the E3 conference this year, meeting with PowerGig and a number of other game developers to report back on the latest and greatest in the videogame world. You can follow updates on Billboard.biz/digital or via Twitter at @billboardbiz.

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