Reigning Guitar Hero champ rocks the USU

Juana Esquivel

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Students gather around the flat screen TV to watch 13-year-old Alec Castillo take home the title of Guitar Hero champion. Photo Credit: Juana Esquivel / staff reporter

A teenage boy sits on a stool with a guitar controller in hand and across his lap as he successfully hits the last notes of “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen, becoming CSUN’s Guitar Hero champion.

Alec Castillo, a 13-year-old 8th grader from Canyon Hills Junior High in Chino Hills has won this semester’s CSUN Guitar Hero competition held in the Games Room of the University Student Union (USU).

“I’ve done it a few times” said Castillo, a national finalist in World Cyber Games, a global cyberspace sports tournament, referring to his victory over college students.

Castillo has also previously won college Guitar Hero tournaments including one in University of California, San Diego.

On March 11, Castillo walked out of the CSUN campus with not only another defeat over college students, but a $25 gift card to GamesStop and a triple chance to win a raffle of an Xbox gaming system, a $100 gift card to GameStop, or an iPod Nano.

Ike Orjiakor, Games Room assistant and coordinator of the Guitar Hero competition noticed Castillo’s talent early in the competition.

“We’ve got some competition here” said Orjiakor as Castillo defeated his first opponent in the song “Scream Aim Fire” by Bullet for My Valentine on Guitar Hero’s World Tour game for the Wii.

The song was played on expert mode as Castillo hit 99 percent of his notes and had a streak of 1,028 notes while his opponent hit 95 percent of his notes and had a streak of 369.

Castillo went on to play “Overkill” by Motorhead and “Satch Boogie” by Joe Satriani, both in which he hit nearly 100 percent of his notes.

His mother, Diane Castillo who accompanied him to the CSUN competition, said they found out about the event through Google and the university’s website.

“(He) needed practice and there are no gaming competitions in our local area, so we try to outreach to the other groups because of the fact that they play more” she said.

Alec, who gave up practicing Guitar Hero at home in his Xbox 360 for lent, has been playing Guitar Hero for three years said he does not have a favorite song.

“I just got with the flow” he said.

He admits that while he enjoys to play Guitar Hero, he likes playing Rockband more.

“I think if anything, rhythm gaming is amazing, ” said Diane. “A lot of people just kind of shy down on it but when you see all these games the focus is there and the group of people that we have met are really awesome and just very kind to Alec, most of them are college students so that is why we are here.”

Orijiakor said there were about 20 participants that evening and purpose of the event was “just to see who is the best at Guitar Hero on campus.”

The competition included four rounds of pairs and the winner was chosen by process of elimination based on their guitar-playing scores.

All competitors received a raffle ticket just for participating but the third place winner received one extra ticket, the second place winner received two extra tickets, and Alec received three extra raffle tickets.

The Guitar Hero competition was part of two video game competitions held each semester in the Games Room.

The previous one was a Halo competition.

However, Orijakor said next semester there will be three video game competitions. Besides the

Halo and Guitar Hero ones, a Smashbros competition will be added.

Orijakor added the competitions are based on the most popular video games at the time.

As for Alec, as he walks off the games room stage with an applause from the audience and hand shakes.

He plans to attend World Cyber Games for the second time in September when the competition will be held in Los Angeles and said he has no ultimate goal.

“I just love playing Guitar Hero and Rockband” he said.

Diane said that while some might be critical of video games, she supports Alec.

“As a parent you want to encourage them” she said. “We are a music family so I encourage this in Alec as much as possible.”

Alec said he wants to study music in the future and become a musician. He hopes be either a drummer or a guitarist someday.