Rob is a superfan we met at PAX this year that has been kind enough to write great Rock Band Blitz Power-up profiles for us for a few weeks. He shared this personal story with us, and we thought the Rock Band community would appreciate it.
My twin brother is a tough guy. If it wasn’t for the spotty genetics we both share when it comes to growing pretty sorry looking facial hair, I’m sure he’d rock an awesome Selleck ‘stache and no one would question him. Also, my brother isn’t supposed to be alive.
My brother has cerebral palsy which affects his fine motor skills, speech, and several other aspects of his life. He wasn’t born with it but it became a part of his life at a very early age. Doctors said that he wouldn’t be able to eat without a tube, walk, speak, go to school, or even live past ten years of age. But here we are today with my brother holding a diploma while walking and eating a steak after giving a speech about being thirty years old.
Okay, so maybe he isn’t doing all of that, but he beat all of these barriers that were in his way. He was fortunate enough to have the odds in his favor in combination with his determination to not be left in the dust. It’s something that I admire tremendously and use as a motivator for when I think I can’t beat the meager-in-comparison challenges that my life brings.
The guy always cast a large shadow and I lived in it as best I could as a kid. His needs were greater than mine and I tried my best to keep up and help if I could. Some of my most precious memories revolve around one major element of our youth, music. Between massive amounts of air guitar as ten-year-olds acting out Queen songs, teenagers listening to the Empire Records soundtrack and ignoring its excessive levels of cheese, and still being a little terrified of Pink Floyd’s “Is There Anybody Out There” we have so many shared memories involving music. Our mom claims it’s genetic and that her family has always connected via music.
In the summer of 2008 I discovered Rock Band. For me it was an amazing experience being able to dive into the different elements of music and really uncover what really makes music special. I learned about all new bands that I was ignorantly avoiding. Shortly after that summer I introduced my parents and my brother to the game after lugging my setup to their house for an after Thanksgiving jam session.
Upon first laying eyes on the different options, my brother settled on the drums. At first it was an awkward experience as he gripped the sticks and tried his best to handle the different simultaneous aspects of the kit. There was much frantic off-rhythm clanging as he met another challenge. But he was determined to conquer this mountain as he had conquered all others. After I took my set up home I received a call the next day from my Dad who wanted to buy everything he needed to create the experience so he could play Rock Band with my brother when I wasn’t around. My dad loves the guitar and I think has a part of him that wishes he had kept his hair long and his beard awesome like it was back in the late '70s.
When I returned at Christmas I returned to my brother as a much better drummer. Granted he’s not going to rise to the top of the leaderboards but he beat the challenges of not needing to be rescued by the rest of us mid-song. He could hold his own and loved every moment of it. We now could play Rock Band as an entire family with him holding the fort down on percussion. I rewarded this dedication with a poster of the family as a band that I had made back in the Rock Band 2 & Zazzle days; something that ended up in a frame on his wall later on.
Random phone calls would go from the usual status update to what tracks were coming out on the next Tuesday and what family holiday would I be coming up to jam with the fam. We’d talk back and forth about DLC and what songs we wished were in the game. I was discovering bands that he liked and I was introducing him to bands I enjoyed. He even got me excited for The Beatles: Rock Band after a lifetime of me avoiding their music. Music began to connect us again like it had done when we were kids.
Chris with his copy of The Beatles: Rock Band
Rock Band has been a force that has driven my family closer than it has been in years. My dad and I battled over a top score in “Blue Sky” on several occasions, my mom and I would duet to Bee Gees, and my brother and I would just jam because in this world we were rock stars. This has made every family holiday ten thousand times more interesting to attend. I still call my brother and discuss which songs I just added to my song library and which songs I’m excited to see come out as upcoming DLC.
While it may not be the same as cheating death or riding a bike it still is another battle my brother has won. He is evidence to me that no matter the challenge there is always a way to defeat the odds and show others the error of their presumptions. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get ready for Christmas Day and the hours of rocking we will be doing. Thank you Rock Band.
If you want to help out with cerebral palsy charities, you can buy the A Very Special Christmas CD compilation to benefit the Special Olympics, or donate directly to the Special Olympics at SpecialOlympics.org.