With his fluorescent green dyed hair, 15-year-old Jeff Robinson looked the part of the rock star. As an avatar gyrated on the screen before him, the York teen's fingers moved defly over his guitar.
A dozen or so fans of the "Guitar Hero" video game series gathered last week with Robinson at the York Public Library, some sporting wild hair and made up faces.
The game has evolved into a sort of cultural phenomenon since its original release in November 2005, which was recently boosted by last week's release of "Guitar Hero III."
Merchants say the series, which includes the 2006 "Guitar Hero II" for PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360, and an expansion title, "Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s," is popular for parties. The new version is expected to be a hit for the holidays.
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Abbie Carnes, young adult librarian with the York County Library, said her teen advisory panel recommended the purchase of the game to help attract teens.
"Gaming in libraries is a huge trend right now," explained Carnes, who has hosted "Guitar Hero" events around York County, as well as tournaments for video games such as "Dance Dance Revolution" and "NFL Streets III."
"It's a great way to get teens into libraries, so we can also introduce them to books and other resources the library has to offer," she said. Those resources include a free online homework tutorial for library card holders, at www.yclibrary.org.
Carnes said she's also applying to Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism for a grant to purchase a Wii game system, which could be used for programming among seniors as well as youth.
Here's how "Guitar Hero" works: As avatars perform with their guitars onscreen and colored notes scroll down the screen on a guitar neck, players must hit correspondingly colored buttons on the guitar-shaped game controller in their hands. Players win points for hitting the "notes" at the right time.
The game's songs span five decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s. But many of the titles -- such as "Surrender" by Cheap Trick, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," and "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream -- are familiar tunes from the youth of baby boomers.
Cody Cossin, 15, of York, said he plays the guitar for real, and has been in a couple bands, but he's still a fan of the video game. "I can play songs that I don't know," said Cossin, who likes '70s and '80s rock. "You gotta be into the music or this isn't for you."
"Guitar Hero III" includes some killer new songs for aspiring players to practice their riffs on -- think "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar for classics lovers or "Miss Murder" by AFI for the more modern set. And the new game also is available on multiple gaming platforms -- including Wii, Xbox 360, Play Station 3 and PlayStation 2.
"Guitar Hero" players who want some company can keep an eye out for later this month, when Harmonix, which invented "Guitar Hero," comes out with "Rock Band," on Nov. 20, where they can join their friends on drum controllers, guitars and microphones to make up a whole, well, rock band.