Roger Ebert, videogames, and art walk into a bar

Recently, possibly out of boredom or for trolling, Roger Ebert decided to bring back his thoughts on the whole “videogames as art” topic, further cementing that, to him, in principle, games can never be art. You can read his full article here, which is in fact a faulty critique of Kellee Santiago’s TEDxUSC talk given back in March 2009. She responds back, echoing a lot my thoughts on the matter.

One could easily dismiss Ebert for being old and “not getting it,” and his tone throughout is rather that of a cranky curmudgeon, which does not help things. “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets,” he repeats. Ouch. Maybe it’s because…he is a movie critic with movie critic friends? Seriously, talk to anyone in the videogaming business, and I’m sure they could make mention a few titles that would be hard to describe as anything but artsy. Yet it is his comments at the end of this critique that prove him beyond faulty and out of place to deem such claims, namely the ones about Flower. It’s evident he has never played the game, let alone many videogames.

Wow, that’s like me saying yoga isn’t a sport and having the world listen.

The question at the heart of this debate, now and forever, is can videogames be art?

And the answer is: of course.

Name-dropping Shadow of the Colossus, Heavy Rain, Katamari Damacy, Suikoden II, BioShock, and Myst, the harder question that continues to stomp around my brain every time this topic comes up is…how could they not be art?

3 responses to “Roger Ebert, videogames, and art walk into a bar

  1. I want to write something on this but feel like I would just be adding to the echo chamber. The whole situation annoys me that someone could choose to be ignorant about a related field they spent their life’s work on.

  2. And saying… is half the battle.

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