Link of the Moment – In Defense of Games as Art

Cracked.com: Why Ebert is wrong: In defense of Games as Art by Robert Brockway (coarse language afoot, but good reading)

I won’t linger long on this topic because the above article makes all the points I’d probably make, but better. Roger Ebert, veteran film critic, once made the odd statement that video games can never be art. Recently he backpedaled just a little, saying that perhaps they could be art someday but that we’d never see a ‘true’ artistic video game in our lifetimes. For the time being he seems to be digging in his heels, so I doubt he’d turn around anytime soon. My theory is that to him games will always be what they were when they began. Movies have always been about storytelling, from their roots in theatre and radio dramas all the way up to modern films. Games began as something akin to sports, with only barely enough story (if any) to explain why your dot was doing things to the other dots. It took awhile before games were sophisticated enough to emulate classic stories, and from there begin to tell new stories of their own, and in a unique way that only games can.

To me one of Mr. Ebert’s most unusual claims is that games cannot be art because you have a degree of control over what occurs. For one thing, the artist has great control over how art develops and the little variations in how the art is delivered (playing music is a prime example) is what gives it heart. In art that’s passively experienced you can imagine what it would be like for the people in the story or what you’d do in their place. In an interactive experience you make the decisions yourself and have to deal with the consequences thereof.

I don’t suppose Mr. Ebert will change his opinion anytime soon since he’s stated he has no interest in looking at any video games out of a belief that none of them could ever prove him wrong. In the long run against this sort of opposition it’s probably ultimately futile to keep holding up examples, and instead to just keep making more and better examples until their value is irrefutable.

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