This article addresses Guitar Hero and Rock Band gameplay as a developing form of collaborative, participatory rock music performance. Drawing on ethnomusicology, performance studies, popular music studies, gender and sexuality studies, and interdisciplinary digital media scholarship, I investigate the games' models of rock heroism, media debates about their impact, and players' ideas about genuine musicality, rock authenticity, and gendered performance conventions. Grounded in ethnographic research—including interviews, a Web-based qualitative survey, and media reception analysis—this article enhances our understanding of performance at the intersection of the “virtual” and the “real,” while also documenting the changing nature of amateur musicianship in an increasingly technologically mediated world.
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