So I'm playing Guitar Hero III last night on the Wii, and my wife (who tried once and gave up on it) asks how I can manage to follow all those circles coming down the screen so fast.
"Well, I don't," I say, not really taking my eyes off the screen. "It's like typing. When I know the next five words or so that I want to type, I don't really sit and think about every letter of every word, I just sort of batch up those groups of letters and then send them off to my fingers, which do the typing subconsciously."
I turn my head and realize she's giving me a look like I'm an alien.
"Doesn't everybody type like that?" I ask.
I have been thinking, ever since I got this game, how it is really about pattern matching. It's not like, particularly in the tricky bits, you're sitting there saying to yourself "Green green red, red red yellow, yellow yellow blue, Green green red, red red yellow, yellow yellow blue..." You spot the pattern immediately - Ax2 B, Bx2 C, Cx2 D, repeat. And then once you've got that locked into your fingers, all your eyes are really doing is looking for the break in the pattern.
I'm no expert on the thing by a long shot - I've beaten it on medium, that's about it. But I think that at some point it switches over to being more about the dexterity of moving your hand around, than anything else. I like medium level because your fingers each get assigned a color and you never move them. On the songs I practice I tend to run up streaks over 400 notes and get like 99% accuracy, usually failing either right at the beginning before I've picked up the pattern, or in the middle of a long repetitive pattern because I got lazy with the timing. And I've only really clocked maybe 10 hours with the thing.
But then you switch to hard mode, where there's more buttons than fingers and you do have to keep taking your fingers off their assigned buttons, I suck. Really bad. Like, I can't get past the first level without getting booed off the stage. I think it's neat that the difference is so drastic. It's because it didn't just get incrementally harder, it became about an entirely different skill set. You can ease from easy (3 buttons) into medium (4 buttons) because the general "my finger is assigned to this button" rule still applies. But going from medium to hard (5 buttons) completely messes that up.