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Games. Tech. Musings.

Games offline and online. Technology. Random stuff.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Roger Ebert, games and art

Are games art? Brinstar reminded me about this debate. In case you aren't aware of this, Roger Ebert apparently thinks they aren't.
"I am prepared to believe," Ebert responded, "that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic."
Ach, Ebert's whole argument doesn't make sense.

My 2-year old draws things. Badly. It's still art. Even if Ebert was right and all games are poorly written compared with movies (which I thoroughly disagree with) games would still be art.

So it's art from the point of view of watching cutscenes (a visual experience)? Ok, now let's try authorial control, which seems to be another aspect of Ebert's argument. Lots of modern art involves interaction from the viewer/participant. Those exhibits are still considered art. Now, if the participant is playing Shadow of the Colossus rather than trying to tickle a performance artist, it's somehow not art any more?

On top of all this, somehow to believe his argument you have to reconcile that if you take computer-animated graphics (art, e.g. Pixar), music (art, e.g. Mozart) and add viewer control it's not art any more?

Obvious hooey. The guy's obviously smart but this whole debate clearly stems from the "corruption of the youth" syndrome that seems to affect each generation when they don't understand what the next is up to. It was Elvis and the Beatles before, now it's videogames. Doubtless when I'm doddering around it'll be holographic porn or somesuch that's "destroying the nation's youth" instead.

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