I’m extremely lucky to have just started (part-time, but it works out with my finally-finishing-library-school schedule) at an awesome high school library where we have a lot of administrative and faculty support, amazing and creative students, and a team of librarians with different backgrounds all bouncing ideas off each other.

So I didn’t have anything to be nervous about this morning when I asked one of my coworkers if they’d ever considered holding a gaming event in the library.

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For teens who’ve caught the 8-bit retro madness of the chiptune craze, the people at SyntheticDreams have managed to make their dreams come true: Guitar Hero on the Commodore 64.

The FREE Shredz64 project let’s folks hook up their guitar controller and play along with a huge user repository of .sid files, which are music files designed to be played on the Commodore 64 system. These range anywhere from NES games to cheesy 80s hits.

If your library still has one of these lying around the office (and I know some of you do), then you and some adventurous teens can breathe new life into the old system. If you don’t, you can lead teens into the wonderful world of emulation. Here’s what you need:

  • Commodore 64 emulator. Your computer can simulate the C64 environment, opening up your computers to a whole host of fun, independently-designed games. PC users can check out CCS64, while Macs have Power64. For Shredz64, what matters is that your emulator can emulate paddles. Commodore 64 emulation can occasionally be tricky, so make sure you read the documentation.
  • Playstation to USB adapter. This will let you hook up your Guitar Hero controller to the computer. The Stepmania site currently has a great guide to finding the one that will work for you.

After a couple of mouse clicks and text commands, you’ll be all set. Have fun, and be sure to check out the demo on Youtube!

Teens hooked on Guitar Hero might want to try their hands on the controller’s stringed counterpart (you know, the actual instrument known as the “guitar”), but not without abandoning the frantic fun that Guitar Hero provides. Thankfully, there are a few solutions on the horizon of 2008 that will get teens shredding in no time.

The folks over at Music Wizard are teaming up with SoundTech to develop Guitar Wizard, a software and hardware package that converts real-life guitar tones into controller messages for live game play. The PC or Mac-compatible system will allow teens to adapt virtually any guitar and import virtually any song.

Meanwhile, the folks at Game Tank are working on software requiring nothing more than a cord and some dexterous fingers to let teens live out their guitar-playing fantasies. For a promo video and news updates, check out the official Guitar Rising website.

Before I go, I would like to warn libraries about the unfortunate phenomenon of Rock Band disc read errors with older PS2s. If your library bought a PS2 used, refurbished, or otherwise not recently, try borrowing the game first and following the tips linked above. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest an additional $45-$65 for Sony to make your PS2 compatible with Rock Band’s dual-layered DVDs.