Roger Ebert declares video games "art"

Okay, not really.

But he does admit that gamers can have experiences that, to them, are art. And that he has no desire to spend 20-40 hours actually playing artsy games to try to experience that himself.

[li]The article does portray gamers in a very positive light, showing that they can make cogent, intelligent arguments that belie gamer stereotypes.[/li][li]But that positive portrayal is balanced out by his decision to illustrate the entire article with creepy art from bad Clive Barker games.[/li][/ul]

Pretty much. But the fact that he absolutely doesn’t want to play games is a pity. His conception of what a video game is is very narrow and outdated. Wondering if there is points in Flower, and expecting it to last 20-40 hours, no wonder he doesn’t want to play…

Cool. I submitted a comment. I probably should have pasted it here, but it’s very late… Basically, I felt the conclusion of your romance at the end of Throne of Bhaal was incredibly moving and fits his definition of art.

Well, if Spawn can be art, I don’t see why games cannot…

Funny thing, Ebert wrote a long column back in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s expounding on the wonders of CD-technology and what they meant for the blurring of the line between games and movies. His jumping off point was an odd little adventure game called Cosmology Of Kyoto.

“The entry had expressed everything I had to say without going to the extreme of actually playing a game.”

I think I am entirely incapable of understanding that sentence.

Does Flower take 20-40 hours? It seems like there are games he could experience in minutes and at least make the determination about potential. I totally agree with him that it’s important how a work (no matter the medium) is about something.

I know a lot of people will roll their eyes, but that’s what I liked so much about the Passage. It had a lot of clever visual and mechanical metaphors.

The other thing he ignores is multiplayer games. Those experiences can potentially inform being a participatory community art experience.

I’ve watched longer movies than Flower, that’s for sure.

there is a small game by REZ creator on XBLA called EEEE - Every Extend Extra Extreme…
play the 5 minute mode. It is one of the most artistic games in this generation. It is way above [enter shooter/open world game here]… it is even better than [enter indie art game here]… a true masterpiece. I still play it. It is pure joy. Take a look at the 3 minute mark:

( ok, now everybody stopped reading and I can sneak in some trolling, but E4 is better than Flower or Braid, way better. It is in a different league… Flower is crapppp against it)…

Why is it a pity?

Is it a pity that I don’t want to listen to rap music? That I don’t want to dedicate the next ten years to learning to appreciate 17th century French literature? That I just don’t appreciate the subtle pleasure to be derived from an elegant plate of raw chicken liver?

Ebert doesn’t like games. You could sit him down with a controller and make him play some games, and he’d still not like them. He made some unreasonable statements about games, reconsidered, and has now admitted error with more grace and eloquence than I could ever manage.

I see nothing to pity about that.

I thought the PSP version was better than the XBLA version, but apparently I’m in the minority here. Nevertheless, Every Extend Extra Extreme? Really?

the great thing about the XBLA version (5 Minute mode is all I play), is the scoring system. If you love numbers, you’ll love E4… There are not many games where you can score 1,000,000,000,000 points in 5 minutes. If you play well, if you do not play well, then you will likely end with a score like 57,563,332,287. The beauty of the game is that you prepare the score attack in 4 minutes and that you (hopefully) watch the last minute without any interaction…

(the PSP version was alright, but I hated the bosses, took all the joy out of the game for me)… E4 is the real thing.
(also it is a multi-sensual game using the rumble right… wheny you destroy your ship in sync with the beat, you can increase your multiplyer, and you can feel the beat in your hands, it feels like you are holding someones heart in your hand)…

The funny thing about “arty” games is that 99 times out of 100 when the hivemind (of Internet gaming in general, not just Qt3) declares a game as “art”, I play that game and think it may have a lot to offer in terms of artistic expression but is ultimately a horrible game.

Braid is one of the few exceptions that I think succeeds as both an arty interactive experience and also a very good game.

Depends if you sit around passing judgement on rap, 17th century French literature or raw chicken liver.

I mean Ebert doesn’t have to like games, but since he doesn’t seem to know a damned thing about them its pretty stupid for him to make comments on them, much less sweeping comments. I don’t like rap music, but I’m not going to say its devoid of merit and worthless. Its just not my thing for the most part. If I did come out and say rap was total shit, I’d be expect to be called out on it and to have actually listened to some rap music to come to my conclusion.

That’s one way to view it, to be fair. On the other hand, Kurdel and Ebert mentioned video games the medium, or the technology, not specific genres. Not liking 17th century French literature is understandable - but I have friends who don’t like reading books at all. That IS pitiable. Same for the friends I don’t think of inviting over when I go out of my way to cook something nice, because “food is fuel” to them. And don’t get me started on what some people require before they even try listening to a simple piece of music.

So I don’t think this is really about preferences, and more about Ebert simply not “getting it”.

Why is it the games that first get declared as art worthy inevitably turn out to be spacey abstract experiences with nothing obvious to say? If it looks like something incomprehensible from some multi-media installation it’s got art cred?

For me games like the Sims have more to say about the human condition. They may not bear up to deep scrutiny, they don’t always handle the subject in a way that rings true or comprehensive, but a game about shallow consumerism driving behavior (object oriented AI) that ends up being one of the most successful games of all time seems like relevant art on a couple of levels.

First and foremost, someone who seriously thinks about this subject might have some things to say about the content and approach. A real discussion, or outright argument, could be sparked. Things could be learned.

Secondly it makes use of the unique ability of electronic games to make its point (even if you could say it’s more incidental than intentional) though interactive modeling of recognizable human behavior.

Lastly, you don’t have to be stoned to be impressed by it.

What’s the obsession with this topic anyway. You can argue about whether anything (books, music and plays not included of course) is art or not. This is just some need to justify the hobby as worthwhile by an authoritative figure, however misinformed this figure may be. Maybe we should resurrect an older topic - how open are you with friends and colleagues about your PC gaming hobby?

I don’t like rap music either and I don’t think I would “get it” if I was made to listen to it for hours or days. There’s nothing to pity about that, and I can appreciate Ebert’s position. I’m actually surprised and happy that he took the time to address this at such length.

What does Bach’s Art of Fugue say? What does Le Sacre du Printemps say? And what about the Mona Lisa? Not every work of art is required to say something …

Ebert has suggested in a previous blog that he doesn’t really consider stuff like Flower to be a game. That when someone makes a game that could really be thought of as art, they’ve actually just made an interactive art experience. I tend to think that making that distinction is one of the things that has held back his understanding about games, but I also don’t care that much. I mean, it’s Ebert.

God, I love it when you say things like this.

It’s less that it says something and more that it makes you feel something. Though if you honestly don’t think that the Rite of Spring says something, I’d suggest you stick with movies.