Here’s some bluegrass fun from The Wortman Brothers of Germany. They have devised a computer game featuring themselves using MIT’s Scratch programming language.
The object of Bluegrass Battle is to maneuver the two bluegrass musicians, representing the Wortmanns, to safety. Game play involves using the arrow keys on your computer to avoid the various fresh fruit being thrown stageward by an unappreciative audience.
To understand the game, it helps to realize that these two are jolly jokers of the first order who have become recognized online for the many humorous and often silly videos they create. Some are more serious musically, often taking American bluegrass standards and rewriting them in German.
The graphics are a bit primitive by modern game standards, but the responses of the characters as they dodge smashing pumpkins are quite clever. Youngsters should find it engaging.
Ulrich Wortman, the banjo player in the game (and in real life) shared the genesis of Bluegrass Battle.
“I got the idea while talking with Ben Wright, banjo player with the Henhouse Prowlers, at the occasion of their concert in Krefeld, Germany. He told me the following story: After some gig a young man stepped up to him telling him, that he (Ben) was the reason, why he picked up the banjo. Ben – being humble enough to ask whether there weren’t any other banjo players of more fame responsible for this – learned that the young man was an devoted WTA 5-gamer, and that it was in fact the Henhouse Prowlers playing that you could hear, when some gangsters in this game tune in the country station on radio.
I thought it to be a brilliant idea getting young folks interested in bluegrass this way. And as my band, The Wortmann Brothers, don’t necessarily play on a level that makes us attractive for game producers, I decided to create my own game with our music providing the bluegrass background. It’s a German version of the East Virgina Blues, aptly enough titled Ostwestfalen-Blues (East Westphalian Blues), as this is the part of the country me and my brother come from.
Of course this enterprise is a serious matter, and the game should be considered a training for going out on stage, trying to keep smiling while the John-Hardy-terror-loop keeps rolling.”
Scratch is a simplified computer language designed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab to help foster interest in programming among young people. They web site allows anyone to try their hand at writing simple games and programs at no cost using the online tools.
To play Bluegrass Battle free online, just visit this link.
Hats off to The Wortman Brothers for devising this wondrous waste of time.