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The Escapist Staff | 20 Jan 2011 18:00
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In this edition of Extra Punctuation, Yahtzee responds to Roger Ebert's proclamation that games are not and will never be art. Take that, fatty!

Extra Punctuation: Videogames as Art

By Yahtzee Croshaw


"I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say 'never,' because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form."
- Roger Ebert

Excerpt: I could say he wasn't shown the best examples of artistry in game design. While he only saw Braid for its mistake-reversing element that seems like cheating, and presumably didn't realize that most of the game is about using various time-manipulation powers to solve elegant temporal puzzles, I would agree with him that the game's still little more than an arcade puzzler with pretentious write-ups between every level.

I could say all of that (and indeed just did) but none of it matters. You know why? Because art is subjective. There has never been a clear definition of what exactly "art" is, and that's because it varies from person to person. There will never be a consensus on "videogames as art." I doubt there will ever be one over the matter of Tracey Emin's Turner-prize-winning dirty bed, either.

My personal definition of art is something that provokes emotional attachment. And there are games that have given me far stronger emotional feelings than any other story told in any medium. Fear, despair, joy, sympathy, the whole gamut. But these were all extremely personal experiences. I'd no doubt have felt differently if I'd had a different personality. I can't really share the emotions of a film critic blubbing at the end of It's A Wonderful Life, and I don't expect them to share those of my eight-year-old self blubbing equally hard at a funeral scene in Wing Commander. There are no doubt people reading this who were moved to tears by Aeris dying in Final Fantasy 7. I can't sympathize any more than I can with Roger Ebert, but I can't tell you that you didn't have those emotions, or that they're somehow wrong. And Ebert isn't "wrong," nor is he "right." His perspective is just that - his own.

Click here to read more of Yahtzee's position on games and art.

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