Capitalism Rocks!

Man, but I love capitalism! Prior to Thanksgiving, there was absolutely no need for 6-3/4″ circular rubber mufflers, or steel reinforcing plates in the form of a shoe, but thanks to a popular new music game, and the miracle of capitalism, we now have both.

Right around Thanksgiving, Rock Band shipped, and thousands upon thousands of people started playing with it. Immediately, they discovered things about the included instruments that needed fixing or improvement. A big problem with the drum pads were that they were so “clacky” when you hit them that unless you played with the game volume cranked, it sounds like you were tapping on the tables of a high school cafeteria while someone played a boombox version of the song at the other end of the room. Immediately, the message boards were full of ideas for a solution, including everything from Plasti-dipping the drumsticks to covering the pads with felt to cutting up mousepads and pasting them to the pads to muffle the noise. Within days, a brilliant composite solution was posted, complete with pictures. I can already attest that this has caused a run on black self-adhesive foam at the local craft stores (and probably nationwide). Someone even came up with a commercial version and started selling them on eBay, complete with swanky product logo (and, unfortunately, the traditional extra markup of overcharged shipping!)

A couple of Rock Band fans who happen to work in a machine shop also managed to solve another problem with the game: the relatively fragile kick drum pedal. Some of the more lead-footed players of the game were actually splitting their pedals in half, so the machine-savvy duo started cutting up diamond-plate steel (the sort of non-slip material used on utility trucks’ tailgates) using a jig in the shape of the original pedal. A bit of drilling, grinding, and six self-tapping screws later, they’d created a nigh-indestructible after-market pedal for your Rock Band drums.

Capitalism: the ability to solve somebody’s problem and make a few bucks in the process—solves problems like this all the time. What’s rare is seeing how really quickly it works its magic. It really was about two weeks from “Augh! Why does nobody make a product which solves this?!” to “Here’s the answer: what color would you like it in?”

I just wonder how long will it be before someone with the necessary plastic-tooling and electronics manufacturing facilities realizes what a huge profit is waiting if they can solve the “Can’t find an extra PS3 Rock Band guitar controller to save your life” problem?

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