...and that is why we need Eddie Van Halen!

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Note: Any pictures I tried to take of Guitar Hero Guy weirdly just came back as a blinding white light, owing to his extraterrestrial origins.

It generally takes a fairly momentous event to make me trek out to Williamsburg from my comfortable hole in Jersey City. My interest was piqued, however, when former TONY staffer/Guitar Hero II enthusiast Mitchell Jordan invited me to watch him participate in Barcade's second annual Guitar Hero tournament last week. I wasn't entirely certain what to expect, but I figured I could, at the very least, get in some solid games of Rampage and Arkanoid.

The crowd was a bit sparse at first, but in no time a raucous mob seemed to have spontaneously generated itself—Louis Pasteur be damned—around a large projection screen. Prior to the actual tourney, a raffle was held and two modified guitars were given away. These actual guitars—as opposed to the small, plastic ones generally used with the game—appeared to be inlaid with gaming controls for use with Guitar Hero II. Obviously, someone had a good deal of spare time on their hands. The proceeds from the raffle went to the Children's Hospital of Montefiore in the Bronx, thus proving that serious gamers can, in fact, be productive members of society. (In your face, Mom!)

Mitchell looked focused as the commencement of this nerdy battle royal approached, but the competition was stiff. The front-runners established themselves early on; the eventual champion was, at one point, showing utter disdain for his opponent by playing his guitar behind his head. Clearly, this metahuman was the favored son of Odin, patron Norse god of heavy metal, video games and battle.

The crowd was very much into the event, and you could easily chart the momentum swings by their collective groans and cheers. Several fallen would-be Heroes and broken dreams later, a deserving winner was crowned, and my friend went home with a respectable, albeit bittersweet, third place.

In conclusion, I have absolutely no doubt that our champion will one day take his rightful place among the pantheon of athletes who dominate their respective sports. Sometimes we, as fans, are lucky enough to witness truly special competitors. From Tiger Woods in golf to LeBron James in basketball to Kobayashi in competitive hot-dog eating, some just elevate their game to previously unfathomable levels and pass into legend. And now when my hopefully yet-to-be-conceived grandchildren one day ask me what it was like to see Guitar Hero Guy in his prime, I will tell them that I was just happy to be along for one wild ride.