Shredding Virtual Freebird

The bane of all musicians – karaoke – is getting a little competition of its own.

Clubs across the U.S. are incorporating a video game to pump up attendance on off nights – a game that’s all about good, old-fashioned guitar shredding.

"Guitar Hero" used to be a game for the living room; now it’s a competition at nightspots, according to the Boston Globe. Gamers jam on the guitar-shaped joysticks in a battle to see who can hit all the right notes, playing songs from Deep Purple, Bad Religion, and The Donnas.

The game doesn’t require any actual guitar skill; flashing notes scroll by on the screen saying where and when to hit the color-coded frets on the joystick.

Guitar Hero night has swept through area hangouts from New York to Los Angeles, the Globe said, and some bars have developed special rules and awards for those who dare to put their shredding skills to the test. In some cases, the winner gets to play "Freebird." No joke: the epic guitar song is reserved solely for the grand poobah of virtual guitar rock.

Guitar Hero night has also become a hit at Pianos bar in New York City, where staffers from "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" have dropped in.

Greg LoPiccolo, who helped design "Guitar Hero" (versions I and II), told the Globe that his company, Harmonix, didn’t originally intend for the video game to bring gamers together in bars, but "after it happened, it sort of made sense to us."

This Christmas, Harmonix will release a new game, "Rock Band," catered to the group experience, as it focuses on multiple gamers working together as a band.

"At this point, now that we see what a social experience it is, it gave us renewed confidence in a full band game," LoPiccolo told the Globe.