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Fake Plastic Trees

03/11/2009 Family Family Gamer Article
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Fake Plastic Trees

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Fake plastic instruments have been both the success story and cautionary tale of the video game industry. Never before have so many people been so interested in music and spent so much time and money to create so few original songs. Or so some would say.

Others, me included would revel in thousands of youngsters being given access to feel like they are creating music. This is no trivial thing, the gift of ownership means they can imagine being in a band of their own where before that was not even on the horizon.

But in my household we've held off really embracing this musical revolution. Until now that is. Spending a little time with these genuinely crafted wooden instruments from MadCatz - the Fender Wooden Strat and Fender Telecaster - got us over the embarrassment hurdle. Sure, they are just as fake and just as technologically transient as the plastic versions, but a whole lot more substantial.

Stood in the lounge with one of these strapped to you no longer feel (quite so) sad or childish. These artifacts have been as crafted as the music they let you join in with.

The Wooden Fender in particular is a noticeably different experience. For a start you need to get used to the weight - not so good for the kids. Then there's the shape. Being carved rather than cast means it takes on more of a flowing line than its plastic cousins.

They feel like icons in their own right and represent the sea change in how millions of us enjoy music - now as active rather than passive listeners. They are also really rather cool in an admittedly geeky way that my wife doesn't quite get I think.

Holding these real wooden fake instruments makes you, more than ever, feel like you are playing real music.

Equally though, these unavoidably expensive bits of kit also tested my metal in terms of real music. Would I prefer my kids to play with one of these, rather than a real instrument that might actually be quite a bit cheaper - even with a few lessons thrown in?

If it was an either-or choice I think I'd have to plump for the real thing. But as an additional rather than alternative, what a great way to give people who perceive themselves as un-musical (people like me and my tribe) ownership of making some music.

Holding these real wooden fake instruments makes you, more than ever, feel like you are playing real music. If this is what it takes to get my kids to taste what it's like to play in a band then maybe it's money well spent. And something I can follow up with a un-fake, non-plastic, wire-free version for Christmas.

Written by Andy Robertson

You can support Andy by buying Fake Plastic Trees

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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