How to include little kids in family jam sessions on Guitar Hero or Rock Band

If you haven’t yet tried your hand at the video game guitar, I warn you: it’s addictive. Guitar Hero (and, later, Rock Band) is the one video game my family enjoys playing together (okay, I enjoy playing at all). Here’s how Sarah (The Goon Squad Sarah) makes sure even the youngest kids get to rock:

We got Rock Band 2 for Christmas. It is a lot of fun and the kids love to play. Unfortunately, my kids are only 4 years old and so the crowd boos us off of the stage every time. [For those not familiar with the game, you must hit a certain percentage of the notes in order to keep playing. — Ed.] Last night we wised up and gave our son the guitar from Rock Band. He didn’t notice the difference and we had fun as an entire family. (You can also just unplug any of the instruments.)

Related: Video game addiction. Talk amongst yourselves.


  1. Colin says

    Also, there is an option in Rockband 2 called “No Fail” (look in the Options menu) which turns off the crowd meter so you can’t get booed off the stage. I use it with my 2 yr old who loves to “play” drums while I am playing!

  2. Kathy says

    There is also a “no-fail” setting in Rock Band 2 (only RB 2, not RB 1) that you can use. It’s there under settings somewhere. Shouldn’t be tough to find if you poke around a little.

    I’d personally set it to “no-fail” if I had an older kid who was actually watching the on-screen notes and trying to play them. With a younger kid who doesn’t care even a little what the notes are “supposed” to be, I’d just unplug/turn off one of the instruments or hand them one of the RB 1 instruments that you aren’t using (if you have both games). We keep our RB1 drum kit set up for our three year old to play when we play, and it works pretty well.

  3. says

    I haven’t succumbed to the temptations of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, but my 4 year old wants to play Wii Fit hula hoop and step aerobics with me. I changed my Mii to look more like her and let her play along with a coffee table book as her own personal balance board.

  4. Jason Dagle says

    There is also a no fail cheat for Guitar Hero as well, you have to go into the Cheat section and play the following chords … GR, B, GR, GY, B, GY, RY, O, RY, GY, Y, GY, GR … it than becomes an option that you can turn on and off

  5. says

    We only have Rock Band, too bad because that no-fail option would be great for my 5 yo. What we do is let him sing, and play songs with repetitive phrases, like Blitzkgrieg Bop (Hey ho, let’s go). Otherwise unplugging the instrument works too.

  6. says

    We haven’t let our son know that we own a video game console. (Thank you Nintendo for keeping the box so tiny!) He would LOVE it, but we’re just not ready to go down that path. The drums and guitar live in the garage until 8.30 pm…

  7. Liz says

    My 5 year old LOVES to play Rock Band 2. My husband and I finally figured out that having him start his own band, setting it to no fail, and then letting him add us as members allows us to practice at expert levels without messing up our own band’s record. He is having a great time banging away on the drums and checking out his percentage, and we get to practice too… without looking like we are much better than he is. :^D It is working great – we can even let the 2 year old get in on the fun with the 2nd guitar when he feels like it.

  8. says

    Handing my 3-year-old a Wii remote works for just about any game. She hasn’t quite caught on yet that she’s not affecting anything, unless it’s a game she knows, like Diego.

  9. says

    We (DH and 5-year old DD and I) were playing Wii Bowling the other night. The toddler DS was just watching….

    But then we noticed that DS had gotten one of the toy cell phones and was holding it like a wii-mote. And each time one of us would take a turn, he’d gallop across the family room toward the TV, swing his arm forward, and say “whoa!”


  10. Pamela says

    We just got Rock Band 2, and I’m so glad it has a no-fail feature. My four year old loves to play (main reason we got it) but isn’t concerned with accuracy yet. Giving her an unplugged controller or instrument never worked because she somehow noticed she wasn’t having an effect. Plus, with RB2, she likes to switch instruments every song and she’d know something was up if we kept taking the time to unplug and replug instruments.