Topic: ebert: "video games can never be art"

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for those who missed it, film reviewer roger ebert ranted about his perceived lack of artistic merit in video games a while back: you can save yourself the read by just knowing that an elitist sniffs at what he considers to be a lower form of media for a few pages.

the frustrating part is when he cites a few video games that were presented to him as art- frustrating because none of the games he references are examples that i think any gamers would have chosen to represent the medium. "waco resurrection" is a good example of this, obviously chosen because of it's controversial gameplay rather than the quality of the game itself.

i don't necessarily want to debate whether games should be recognized as art, but i do want to say that video games have always gotten just as much of a reaction out of me as any film or album. super metroid has been my favorite game since childhood and gets a very strong emotional response whenever i play it, not just because of nostalgia, but because it's such a genuinely beautifully game. the music and artwork lock together to draw a world that's surprisingly disturbing and depressing for a 16 bit game, a testament to how video games can be more than just simple fun when the developers really take the project seriously. i don't play it to pass time or have fun; i play it because i want to go back to that world.

there are plenty of other games i'd reference as works of art long before any of the ones ebert mentioned-- muramasa, with it's hand drawn sprites is like playing an ever-changing hokusai wood carving, while okami, another amazing game based on traditional japanese art, looks like a watercolor painting in motion. the zelda games all have a timeless beauty to them, although majora's mask and windwaker stand out as having my favorite art direction. cave story is a perfect example of a video game being a very personal labor of love to somebody, something ebert claims isn't possible in his journal.

this is a post by one of the artists from metroid corruption, who goes through all of the rooms he created and explains the process of designing them photo by photo. seeing all of the unbridled creativity and dedication to every pixel makes it hard to say that game creation isn't an artistic endeavor:

the problem with convincing someone like ebert that games can be a deeper experience than simple time wasting is that he'd actually have to play the games to understand them, something most naysayers have no interest in doing. he's judging games as if they were a passive medium like films or paintings or albums, which don't require any interaction from the user to appreciate. games are an interactive medium, and judging one without playing it is like reviewing a film with a blindfold on.

but like he asks, why does it matter if they're art anyway? if games were widely accepted as art, it wouldn't make me feel any differently playing them myself. i know what games mean to me and what it is that i get out of playing them, and no matter what anyone says my favorite games will always mean as much to me as my favorite music and films. which brings me to my point; art is something very personal that can't be defined in any clear or absolute terms. there are huge differences from person to person in what they regard as art, and trying to find a simple across the board definition of what art itself even is will lead to long arguments before everyone involved just gives up. most people probably aren't even aware of how tenuous a hold they have on their own personal definition of art; they could admit that games they love don't qualify, but will readily recognize a painting that means nothing to them as a work of art without knowing why.

so instead of asking why gamers why games 'need' to be art, i'd ask ebert why he needs to believe that they're not. what does it matter to him whether someone out there appreciates a video game the way he enjoys a film? i'd like to scrap the whole argument and let games have whatever impact on the players that they happen to have. the typical movie or album could be considered to be just as cheap of a product as your typical video game, with only a few releases here and there gaining attention as something special. if that great movie or album or game comes along and means something to someone, let it mean that to them. when a poor one comes along, let it be cheaper experience that it is.

that's as simple as it needs to be; instead of judging the worth of entire mediums at once, why not take each game, film, album, or painting on a case by case basis. if anyone has read this far, you might want to take a nap for a while. you've earned it.

Edited on by romulux

goldeneye- 5447 4748 5174


didn't see that. i moved the post there, so if a mod wants to get rid of this thread they can.

goldeneye- 5447 4748 5174


He obviously hasn't seen Final Fantasy XIII in action.

Plain old gamer :)


I see you've already found the original thread for this, so... :3

future of NL >:3
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