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Competition calls for guitar heroes

Video game battle tests strumming skills

By Tara Trigg | Peak Intern

Published in the Powell River Peak: Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This summer, every person in Powell River will have the opportunity to become an ultimate guitar hero. Now, some will protest, saying, “But I cannot play the guitar.”

Do not fret.

Powell River First Credit Union and its CU Fly team are putting on a Guitar Hero® competition—and yes, they mean the video game.

With $50 up for grabs at each of the qualifying rounds preceding the night of culmination, and a grand prize of an IPod® Touch at the final event, those who love the popular game Guitar Hero® are invited to come out and test their skills against other members of the community.

Qualifying rounds are from noon to 3 pm on Friday, July 4 in the credit union parking lot, noon to 5 pm on Saturday, July 26 at Sea Fair at Willingdon Beach, and noon to 3 pm on Saturday, August 2 at the BC Day picnic at Willingdon Beach. The final epic battle for the title of Ultimate Guitar Hero® will take place live, on a 30-foot screen during the second annual Movie Under the Stars on Friday, August 15 at Larry Gouthro Park. Along with the Guitar Hero® final battle, and a great movie to watch, Movie Under the Stars will also feature a fundraising opportunity for the CAT scan machine.

“For the final event they’ll be up on stage,” said Sandra McDowell, the chief marketing officer at First Credit Union. “They’ll get points for style and costumes, crowd response and game points. Anyone who comes out and tries will have a shot at the $50.”

Guitar Hero® is a popular video game that lets those who have no musical experience rock out to popular tunes from every period of rock history. The game is played on a guitar-shaped controller, by pressing coloured buttons on the “guitar’s” neck while strumming in time with the music and visual cues on the screen. Each time a note is hit correctly, the participant hears the “guitar” play the song. There are varying levels of difficulty and many different songs. The version of the game played at the events is Guitar Hero 2®. A complete list of available songs will be posted at the events.

This competition is exciting not just because of what it is, but because of how it has been organized. Courtney Craigen, a member of the CU Fly team, just graduated from Brooks Secondary School, and was responsible for spearheading the coordination of the first of the Guitar Hero® events: the Canada Day qualifying round.

“CU always has tents set up at events, giving balloons, painting faces, things like that,” said Courtney. “We’re responsible for setting it all up, and taking it all down.”

The CU Fly team does more than just set things up. They are responsible for organizing everything that has to do with the credit union’s involvement in the event.

“You look at a box of oranges and you wouldn’t think that much goes into [getting it to an event],” said Courtney. “There’s a lot of planning involved.”

“Each student is asked to take the responsibility of spearheading one of our events,” said McDowell. “It gives them practical work experience, and they receive a $500 bursary at the end of the summer for completing the program.”

Members of the CU Fly team get the opportunity to learn different skills in several fields: public relations, marketing, banking, public speaking, business etiquette and event planning.

“I’m excited for the public speaking and business etiquette sessions,” said Courtney. “I think it’s going to be very valuable when I’m finished. Even just getting involved with adults is helpful. Being students, we don’t tend to work with them.”

McDowell said that the program is a win-win situation for both the credit union and the students. “We get assistance from youths for our summer events and an opportunity to work closely with young people,” she said. “The students get an opportunity to learn and gain work experience.”

Courtney said that becoming a member of the CU Fly team was simple. “They came to our school and held a meeting for anyone who was interested,” she said. “They gave us the applications, so it was pretty easy to get involved.”

There are eight students on the CU Fly team, each one responsible for their own event.

“Basically, it’s eight of us gaining business and professional work experience,” said Courtney. “We meet every two weeks or so, and are invited to all the credit union functions, like the AGM [annual general meeting].”

Courtney will be attending the University of Victoria next year, majoring in kinesiology, likely going on to acquire a bachelor of education as well.

PHOTO: CU Fly team is ready to shred it up at the Ultimate Guitar Hero® Challenge. The team includes Samantha Stoddart [back, from left], Sophia Piche, Tami Chwist, Caitlyn Best, Joel Thom, Kaleena Johnston [front, from left] and Courtney Craigen.