JamLegend – Rock Band Online…and Social

[[innerindex]]JamLegend
Wow. Its all I could say when Adam sent me an invite to JamLegend – a Guitar Hero-esque game that is a pleasant mix of playability, art, and social interaction. I wasn’t expecting much when I got the invite, but as soon as I played through my first song, I was blown away.

The site isn’t allowing open registration at the moment, but you can get on a waiting list…but you can get around some aspects of the waiting list as stated by the JamLegend FAQs:

JamLegend is currently in invitation-only beta. We will be letting people into the site on a first-come, first-served waiting list.

If you really want to get an invite, twitter “@JamLegend I want http://www.JamLegend.com” or become a fan on Facebook. We will randomly send out invites to users who twitter or are fans.

You could also ask your friends to see if they have any invite codes.

The beta will end once we work out some kinks.

JamLegend

How It Works

JamLegend is a Flash game with the number keys 1-5 (and function keys F1-F5) bound to their corresponding positions on the fret board. Like Guitar Hero, dots approach the bottom in time with the music and you must hold the appropriate number(s) in and strum. How? With the Enter key, of course!

You have two primary modes of play: Jam Style and Chill Style…shown here:

JamLegend

Playing the game can be odd depending on your keyboard. If you have a beefy enough keyboard where the function keys are evenly spaced (unlike one of my keyboards) you shouldn’t have much trouble with Jam Style.

My favorite method for play, however, has been using my Wii Guitar on my Mac thanks to DarwiinRemote. :D

The Music

The site’s slogan is “The free way to play the songs you love” is a little misleading. JamLegend is a new site with a small user base at the moment and little buy-in from big name stars. So…the appropriate slogan for now is “The free way to play the songs you will soon love because this site is freaking awesome”.

Are the songs bad? Definitely no. I hadn’t heard of any of the bands prior to playing around with JamLegend. Am I bummed that the songs aren’t from my favorite bands? No…I actually like a number of the artists. Blue Judy being one of my favorites – an Indie Rock Band from LA – and Double Stamp – another Indie Rock Band from Claremont, CA.

JamLegend does a nifty job displaying the songs that are currently popular (although this feature will become better as the user base grows), as well as bubbling new songs in front of your face. In addition to listing top songs, you can search and browse the site for specific genres, artists, and songs. Good times!

JamLegend

The Social Side

Similar to the Guitar Hero stat site that came with Guitar Hero III, JamLegend lists your bests, averages, global rankings, etc. You can add friends, challenge them to duels, or have massive guitar showdowns with large numbers of players. As an additional cool thing, you can earn groupies by completing Achievements. Groupies serve no real purpose at this time save for bragging rights but in the future that may change!

Where Its Heading

In its current state, JamLegend is a pretty ballsy free web application. There are some things coming down the pipe, however, that will make it that much cooler.

Music: If adoption of this game picks up, we could very easily see some larger named bands put their music out for play. Heck, the All American Rejects song Gives You Hell is pending track creation. Awesome.

More Instruments: JamLegend claims they are working on additional playable instruments! They are planning on adding keyboard, drums, bass, and (due to popular request)… cowbell.

Thoughts

This game will very easily become my mobile Guitar Hero fix (and soon to be Rock Band fix once the new instruments are implemented). The JamLegend site is gorgeous. The game is very well implemented. The music is good. I <3 it.

School Punishes Student For Blogging From Home

School 8 Schools across the country are cracking down on student computer use; blocking social sites and proxy servers. Many schools are perfectly within their right to prevent teenagers from frequenting sites like MySpace, Facebook and Xanga while using school hardware. In all actuality, there is no real need for students to be on such social sites at school when it could impede on studying and perhaps pose a danger to the student (internet predators).

Do schools try to reach to far? This article seems to think so, as there is another school – Plainfield School District in Illinois – attempting to reach into the homes of its students and lay the smack down.

A 17-year-old student who posted on his blog site that he was being bullied and threatened by the Plainfield School District will face an expulsion hearing this week, a local attorney said.

Back in November, Pope John XXIII Regional Highschool decided to stretch their rights a little far and reach into the home of their students, threatening suspension to anyone that failed to delete their accounts on various social networking sites. My post – School Bans Social Websites – discusses this school’s attempt at control and has been met with a huge onslaught of student irritation.

Students are generally unhappy with this type of control – as well as the simple blocking of sites that many schools are doing – and are reacting in the only way they can…with their voice. They comment on my blog expressing their opinions (I’ve had 119 comments on that blog post as of this posting and they are still rolling in), they complain on their social sites, they blog. The 17 in this article blogged the following on May 2 (without mentioning the school the student wrote):

“I feel threatened by you, I cant even have a public Web page with out you bullying me and telling me what has to be removed. Where is this freedom of speech that this government is sworn to uphold? … Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied. … In my opinion you are the real threat here. None of us ever put in our xanga’s that they were going to kill or bring harm to any one. We voiced our opinions. You are the real threat here. you are depriving us of our right to learn. now stick that in your pipe and smoke it.”

What are the school districts thinking? It is the parents job to police student’s internet usage at home, NOT the school’s. It doesn’t matter if the school doesn’t like the sites students visit or if a student says something bad about his school…they may be kids but don’t they get some level of free speech? The article states:

Superintendent John Harper, who cannot comment on student cases, said the district will take action if it believes there is a safety issue. Meanwhile a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said school districts must be careful not to discipline students on matters that occur outside school. The student’s attorney believes Plainfield School District is overstepping its boundaries.

“The district is going to take away the student’s education for exercising his freedom of speech,” said attorney Carl Buck. “I feel like they are trying to control his freedom of speech. … He is saying, ‘You can’t bully people and we have a right to object and you can’t throw people out of school for voicing their opinions.'”

Schools simply need to wake up and smell the coffee. Block social sites at school if its impeding on school work, but don’t threaten and punish the kids for doing things at home. Educate them on the dangers of the internet and educate the families on the need for some policing of internet usage at home. I want schools to teach my kids (when I have them), not parent them.

In closing, here’s a line from the article sums up my opinions:

“It is not a crime to write things on the Internet – though we find them offensive, troubling and disheartening, it is not a crime[.]”