Videogames as Art

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I'm sad there haven't been more examples thrown out ... surely I'm not the only one who adores http://www.ludomancy.com/blog/2008/09/03/i-wish-i-were-the-moon/ and the like?

I don't particularly care what Ebert thinks. I've certainly disagreed with him over quite a few movie reviews. My only gripe with him is the same as my frustration with anyone whose ignorance becomes apparent to me. I get annoyed that there are people so close minded to feel the need to declare something or someone else as inferior, just because they don't like it. There are plenty of things I don't enjoy, but I make it clear it's merely my own opinion and doesn't affect anyone else. Ebert's tone comes across as more a declaration that anyone who appreciates games as art are simply wrong, and foolish to think so.

And anyone who disagrees with me is simply wrong and a fool.

Is video games art? The answer can be found in three simple words.

World

Of

Goo

P.S. You mean to tell me you cannot impregrate a dishwasher? I don't believe this (and Lord knows I have tried)!!!

Well put, Yahtzee.

My problem with Ebert's statement is that in his article he spends a lot of time mulling over the different definitions of art, saying that if a videogame is art then so is chess. Then he still makes the statement that games "cannot" be art, when he's already said that art is something that is hard to pin down. I have no problem with the man having his opinion on the issue, but in his article I find it difficult to find any real coherent reasoning. He writes about literature and essentially says that good literature is art but bad literature cannot be.
Throughout the article it seems to be him disagreeing with Kellee Santiago about nothing substantial. His article can be summed up thus : Ebert likes films, doesn't like videogames. His statement is based merely on the fact that he doesn't like games, rather than the artistic intention, or creativity.

So while I agree that getting upset over someone's opinion is dumb, I also think that his intent was probably to cause that upset.

I would agree. I was a bit perplexed that everyone was so upset about this; it's not like he has the final word on content and developers were going to start wailing and rending their garments going, "MY GOD, HE'S RIGHT! HE'S RIIII-HIIII-HIIIIGHT!" before sprinting off a cliff, thus ending forever the era of gaming.

This is like a Twilight fan freaking out about someone trashing the novels. It doesn't matter what I think because YOU enjoy it.

I myself hate to use the word "art", because everyone has different definitions, connotations and opinions about it - it makes it just plain useless in everyday dialogue. The question "is something art" is unintelligible, unless you put in a "if you define art as blah and blah". Dead word.

The interpretation of "something that evokes feelings, conveys ideas, ..." etc is actually only the basis. What comes beyond that? Because if you only wanted to convey something, it'd suffice to be merely shocking, provocative, cute, ... You could piss on the street when drunk and make it a social statement, performance art. (Let's set aside the issue if that could be counted as art or not, it's not what I'm driving it.)
So, let's say a piece of art requires that the artist puts in conscious and effort to create art. Art as organized expression. The man shouting at the top of his lungs is not being artistic, but the man singing opera is. That kind of definition doesn't really work any more. Modern art broke up and questioned the rules of art, of how we perceive anything and nowadays, men shouting at the top of their lungs might be art... (if they do it intentionally) and there is one Soetsu Yanagi, who actually declares those things of utmost beauty that no one has tried to make beautiful. Art created by those who don't intend it to be art and the rest is all inferior... which completely foils any attempts to create art whatsoever.

In the end, I found my personal answer in Okakura Kakuzo's Book Of Tea. In it, he recounts the fable of a magic harp made from the wood of a tree in a wild and beautiful valley. Every harpist trying to play it failed to make it produce any fair sound, until one day a master harpist came along. He struck the strings and played song after song about love like clouds over the trees and war like storm in the mountains, and the harp remembered its home valley and accompanied him with beautiful melodies. When the performance was over, the harpist was asked how he had managed to play the magic harp and he answered: "Those other harpist only talked about themselves, I let the harp choose her own theme."
The conclusion is: Art should be like that harpist, and the viewer the harp. It is the classic "evoke feelings and ideas" with a twist. A good piece of art doesn't lecture, it doesn't just show you something. A good piece of art is not complete without you, it requires you to bring yourself into the picture, fill it out with your own ideas, feelings, memories, and unnameables and make it a part of yourself.
And if you take it like that, video games have immeasurable potential to be art.

THANK YOU!

I completely agree, especially with this: And that why it's stupid to get angry and butthurt about it, or anyone else who dismisses gaming. It speaks more to your own insecurity than their obvious ignorance.

I'm glad to see a rational voice instead of all the outraging howling that so many gamers have been doing. It all seemed like so many cries of "VALIDATE ME, DAMMIT!!" than anything else.

Actually, on second thought: Why does everyone want it to be art? It's as if "art" was the ultimate badge of honor to bestow on something. It is not, because, for one reason it is too serious, and second many things that are art are indigestable.

Armageddon was a good movie. Harry Potter was a good book. Chrono Trigger was an awesome game. None of them were artsy.
So how come the old "good-bad" division doesn't suffice any more?

The problem I have with Ebert is that he's not criticizing a specific work that is debatable like Yahtzee's referanced "Dirty Bed" but the entire medium. What he said is similar to saying "paintings can never be art", not that a specific painting shouldn't count as art or whatever. It's about the dismissal of an entire medium. The thing is that it goes beyond one man's opinion to an extent because while people might argue about a specific work, virtually no one will argue about mediums like painting, sculpture, etc... as being capable of creating artwork.

The response he's inspired is beyond a bunch of irate, insecure fanboys. The thing is that if Ebert or someone like him was running a nation or whatever, his statement is more or less the kind of thing that would lead to the demand that all state funded art museums burn their paintings because maintaining them is a waste of tax payer money since it's not art.

That's an extreme (and doubtlessly poorly written) example, but similar things have happened, which is why gamers are so into defending the medium.

The fact that there are people out there interesting in censoring games, or even banning them (depending on the group) also fuels things. Consider the number of books that have been banned or burned through the years... I believe in some extreme cases people claiming that the only books that should exist were religious texts.

Defining video games as an artistic medium, gives them a degree of protection. Ironically I suspect this is quite probably why guys like Ebert are saying what they do. Did he receive money from the anti-video game crowd?

I also look towards film and the accusations thrown against it, including European attacks like the 1980s "Video Nasties" list (look it up, I'm not even kidding about the name). I find it odd that Ebert can defend Films as an artistic medium, but will join the other side when it comes to video games. Of course as a film lover who has lived as long as he has, he might just be happy that video games are under attack instead of his personal love. By throwing his influance against video games being recognized as a viable artistic medium, he helps lower the chances that "the mob" will turn their attention back to film for a while.

Remember film has created things like "It's a Wonderful Life" but it's also included things featuring titles like "Debbie Does The Barnyard". Even if one was to say that most games are cr@p artistically speaking, including pretentious attempts like "Braid", the same could arguably be said about films (as snobs will point out) yet very few people doubt film as a medium, and someone who can acknowlege it, should also logically acknowlege games which pretty much are just adding an interactive component to visual arts... unless of course one has an ulterior motive (which being a cynical paranoid I always suspect).

"Games" as a whole are not "art"

There are games that ARE art, though, and anyone who ignores them pretty much has an invalid opinion.

Yahtzee I love you! I don't care in the slightest about what Ebert said, I'm just extremely happy about the fact that as far as I can remember, your article was the first thing I have ever read that I totally agreed with, without a single word that didn't mirror my own opinion (apart from your personal definition of art, but seeing as it is just that, a personal defintion, I didn't care that yours was different to mine).

Actually, I'm doubtful about the comment you made on religion so the article wasn't the perfect match to my own thoughts that I just claimed it was, but nevertheless it was extremely close and probably still closer than anything else I've ever read.

mechanixis:

ostro-whiskey:

mechanixis:

ostro-whiskey:

Uncompetative:

ostro-whiskey:
This is the first time Yahtzee has made himself look like a moron, I think hes ego has gotten the better of him.

Videogames are not art for one simple reason, videogames are directly participatory, as such they are entertainment. If an artist relinquishes his art to free tampering by the audeince he is no longer an artist.

When an artist creates a piece of work everything has an implication and the audience simply observe, this immutability allows us to enter the mind and world of the artist.

Videogames remove this immutability, allowing the audience to interact with the world and story, cheapening them by revealing that they are an illusion we can manipulate. As such videogames kill the connection between character and story.

The reason confusion exists is because artists create games, you have concept artists, graphic designers, writers, composers, etc. As such games have artistic elements but the nature of the videogame - the audience being able to edit, change or omit elements of the creation remove the connection with what art is meant to be.

Think of graphics painted on a car, the graphics are art, is the car art ?
The car was created to serve the purpose of transporting people, and does this as always intended.

To claim games are art is to claim that pong or asteroids are also art, as todays games are made to serve the same desires that were being served when they were created.

If one looks at the history of film, since its origins it was artistic in vision and design, films like Nosferatu and Metropolis are evidence of this.

Yahtzees definition of art is so far beyond stupidity I would have fired him if I were the baws. "My personal definition of art is something that provokes emotional attachment."
By this logic beating a woman is art, so is watching your team win the world cup, and going to a gig of a kick ass band.

Improvisation Theatre is considered art and that is interactive.

But not through the audience, please put more thought into what you say.

Someone's snippy.

There's plenty of art that involves viewer interaction. Galleries full of video cameras that record the viewers and project them onto a wall. Blank spaces that invite the viewer to draw or write on them. The whole point of that kind of art is that it makes a statement about the audience and their reactions to the piece, as part of the piece itself. Games do it too on a very individual level.

omfg, I dont think you understand my point, is the audience allowed to adjust facial features on Picasso's abstract portraits ?
Is the audience allowed to make Batman go apeshit and start killing civillians in The Dark Knight ?

I think the problem is that many of you dont even understand the purpose of art, and therefore cannot appreciate what it means to be an artist, which is why you have no problem in devaluing art by trying to frame videogames with it.

Yeah, so, thanks for saying 'You don't understand art' and then not explaining why not or what art is. Real solid debating. What, so you're saying the examples I gave aren't actually art? Why not? It's still an artist conveying an emotional and intellectual statement, and a component of that statement is how the audience behaves when they experience it. Your definition of what constitutes a statement is simply narrower. You can't manipulate The Dark Knight or Picasso because they aren't pieces about the audience. Games are.

I would like to add I fully grasp the irony of arguing about this underneath an article that says arguing about this is pointless.

Jesus Christ guy, why cant you grasp the concept I am writing about. If an artist allows the audience to change their creation, they are not an artist. I did not say the examples you gave werent art, they simply have nothing to do with what I am stating.

I dont know if you're actually this stupid or just trying to piss me off.

I agree with Yahtzee to an extent. I do think that it is pointless to try and change the mind of Ebert as well as being all hot and bothered by his comments is pointless, but I don't think that art (or religion) should be kept in the confines of one's own mind.

If we didn't share our art, faiths, or whatever people wouldn't come to appreciate other's differences. I don't think one should try to change another's mind about a personal choice or preferences a person has, but sharing with each other their views on art/religion/politics/etc. in a respectful way can lead to a wondrous form of intimacy between people.

Being a Christian and an artsty-fartsy kind of person I can relate on both levels. Share to your heart's content what you consider important, but don't share to try to convert another to your point of view. If you share respectfully the things you care about who knows, maybe that person will come to see things the way you do. =-D

That's all I have to say. Keep sharing what's on your mind Yahtzee. You have a good one on your shoulders. =-)

Good article. Maybe people will take what you (and others) have said about games as art into consideration, and not get all bent out of shape when someone from an entirely different area of media appreciation states their opinion about this pointless debate.

In other news, my dishwasher and I are expecting, and come June will be blessed with a 2kg set of crockery.

I mostly agree with the article, but I HATE this new age idea that opinions and points of view CAN'T be wrong. If it's my opinion that I am a God and you are all put on this Earth to do my bidding, then I am WRONG. If it's my opinion frogs are the smartest beings on the planet, I am WRONG. If it's my point of view that the sky is pink, I am WRONG. If it's my point of view that the world is flat, I am WRONG.

Opinions are wrong ALL THE TIME...

But yes, it IS stupid to argue whether or not games are art when no one's finished arguing what art IS... Ebert basically says it doesn't fit into a set of criteria and no one's managed to figure out what that set INCLUDES... Why are we arguing?

The Deadpool:
I mostly agree with the article, but I HATE this new age idea that opinions and points of view CAN'T be wrong. If it's my opinion that I am a God and you are all put on this Earth to do my bidding, then I am WRONG. If it's my opinion frogs are the smartest beings on the planet, I am WRONG. If it's my point of view that the sky is pink, I am WRONG. If it's my point of view that the world is flat, I am WRONG.

Opinions are wrong ALL THE TIME...

But yes, it IS stupid to argue whether or not games are art when no one's finished arguing what art IS... Ebert basically says it doesn't fit into a set of criteria and no one's managed to figure out what that set INCLUDES... Why are we arguing?

I think it all depends on what or how you see things really. If you are having an argument with someone on how frogs are or are not the smartest animals on the planet you have to first determine on what you mean by smart. Are we talking IQ smart, or on what bugs are good to eat smart? It this putting human characteristics on an animal or is it really measuring the intelligence of the amphibian? It all depends on putting things into perspective my friend.

Yahtzee is art.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
"TL/DR: Art is any created work that provokes strong emotions in you, personally. And trying to impose your feelings on someone else is as pointless and time-consuming as trying to impregnate a dishwasher."

But it is still funny to watch.
I have listened/watched two extreme patriotic americans/brits discuss politics, religious debates go sour, and even a discussion on which beer is better. Majority of your fans just really want to see you rip into something. We are one dimensional little men & women that either want to agree with your every word like it's handed down by god or laugh as you rip into something. We are petty. I believe there a significant bunch of us that are disappointed that you went the mature route.

Good show, Yahtzee, good show. I still find the situation of Ebert reviewing games without playing them and making judgments of gaming as a whole to be a pretty absurd thing to do but there's not much else to say other than that.

I gotta say I prefer it when he rants rather than is just sensible intelligent and making sense in a dispassionate way, because well wheres the FUNNY!

Cryofthewolf:
or on what bugs are good to eat smart?

A human is better equipped to find out what bugs are good to eat than a frog. Frogs live limtted lifespans, in limited areas, with a limited choice of bugs to eat, and they pick which ones they want on instinct.

Humans have access to the entire world, meaning several thousand more bugs to examine than any one frog would have, and we're far more capable of determining nutrional value than a frog's instincts.

So to bring your red herring back to the original point via illustration: Your opinion is wrong.

Edit: And for the record, I didn't mention comparing frogs to HUMANS, I said comparing it to every other animal on the planet and judging them the smartest. slightly different.

This really agrees with what I think - it's not about videogames, it's about the definition of art, that games can change. For example, in the early days, people wouldn't have thought scribbles on a piece of paper were art, but now we have Shakespeare, and Dickens, and Rowling, all of which are regarded as art.

It's just a changing game.

The point about how art is subjective is exactly what occurred to me after I read IGN's panties-in-a-bunch article in an attempt at a rebuttal to Ebert. I also define art as anything man made that provokes emotions. But I would probably say that art must DELIBERATELY provoke emotions. I think video games were even more subjective when graphics were primitive, and required imagination to fill in the gaps. Choice systems (moral and otherwise) are an interesting solution, but I think games (or what they're becoming, which the term "game" isn't always accurate for) will always be the subjective. More subjective than other mediums even, because the gamer experiences a unique variation of the game's events (not as unique as it seems, with the vast number of gamers out there, but unique none the less) AND a unique interpretation of that experience, as in any other medium. I still respect Ebert's opinion, but I'm a bit peeved that he decided to say games could NEVER be art. That seems overly dismissive. Then again, I really don't know his qualifications for art. They could rule out interaction with the actual content of the artwork (rather than interpretation of its ideas) completely.

That was a very well-reasoned response, Yahtzee, which is probably the opposite of what many people expected. I think it says a lot that even our most flagrant spokesperson can be mature in his discussion of such a topic.

I agree with you that the "videogames are art" argument is a subjective one that can never be answered objectively, but I don't agree that the question is unimportant. The problem is, that question greatly affects the games industry.

Why can Michaelangelo's "David" stand out in public in all his glory, while "Penthouse" has to be covered up and only sold to adults? Because one is art and the other isn't. It's the same reason some places can have grindhouse films in the cinema, but no blood and gore in their video games -- in the cinema, it's art. If society in general doesn't agree that games /can/ be art, freedom of expression is hampered considerably. Art forms are allowed to bend the rules and buck social norms because they are expressions of art, but if games aren't art, they aren't allowed the same freedoms. You can bet Michael Atkinson would have a much harder time banning games for sexuality and violence if they were recognized as a form of art and not just as toys for children.

It also has implications for the people who develop games. From what I've seen of the industry, those who work in the games industry are viewed as being drones who make toys for children. Because of this, they are compensated accordingly: game programmers make lack-luster wages, work extreme amounts of overtime, and are hired and fired without a second thought. But in the arts, actors, directors, screenwriters -- they all become stars. They are recognized for their work and are paid humongous salaries. Now, this may not be common to all art, but all art forms have their legends whose works are worth millions. Where are the highly-paid artists in the games industry?

Whether or not video games actually are art doesn't matter, but whether or not we view them as art has a significant affect on how the industry and its people are treated. This makes the question, "are video games art?" important for the industry to argue.

chickens11:
I still respect Ebert's opinion, but I'm a bit peeved that he decided to say games could NEVER be art. That seems overly dismissive. Then again, I really don't know his qualifications for art. They could rule out interaction with the actual content of the artwork (rather than interpretation of its ideas) completely.

While I don't claim to be an art major, I'm of the understanding that art is meant to be interacted with; that's what makes it subjective.

As an example, consider an abstract painting. It contains a few squares of varying size and color. Objectively, it has no meaning. But subjectively, some people finding meaning in it. What they find depends on their own experiences, prejudices, and world views. This interaction between the work itself and the viewer is what (supposedly) makes the work a piece of art.

The same thing applies equally to films. It's not uncommon to see a scene where terrorists hijack a bus and threaten to blow it up. On its face, this is merely an event -- a sequence of actions. But to the viewer, this stirs up emotions, which depend on how they perceive the event. To a terrorist, this may be something they would associate with and feel proud of, or they may be quite offended by the stereotypical portrayal of the situation. To a resident of New York, the very image of the terrorist would be something they would hate and they would immediately view the negotiator as a hero. Our experience of that art depends on our own interaction with it internally.

Now, it should be clear that this also applies to video games. Sure, we could consider the stories and cutscenes, because they are little more than films and novels themselves. But what about the mechanics? While most games don't attempt to relate emotions through the character's interaction with the mechanics, some do. As an example, try the game "The Marriage". If you ask me, it's not a very exciting game, but the mechanics themselves speak to something. The fact that every word you say has severe consequences, and the fact that there is no "right" answer, tells a story of hopelessness. Some people may associate this with their own marriage or another part of their life. The mechanics of Braid tell an even more abstract story. Ignoring the story within the game, the ability to play with time -- rewinding it and intertwining it -- cause the player to consider many things: What would I do if I could turn back time? What effect would it have on me and those around me? Could I make life perfect? What would that be like? Playing with the game's mechanics allows the player to play with this idea, just as watching a film involving a love story allows the viewer to play with the idea of being in a passionate romance.

The argument that games aren't art because they are interactive doesn't make sense. All art is interactive, and it's through interaction that we experience them. Games are more interactive than other art forms, which should allow them to be even more artful.

I find this whole situation with Ebert's opinions weird, but for a bit different reasons than most seem to.

I mean, when you get down to it, the whole thing is basically - A guy who has no expertise in a field makes a bold claim regarding that field and everyone starts screaming and yelling that he's wrong/right.

Come on guys, the entire Internet is built on this, why is Roger Ebert getting so much attention for doing what everyone else is already doing?

What a bunch of rubbish, all this laying down and accepting, pragmatic bunk, which is the path that most of you have taken on this issue is bollox! A good debate requires a stolid opinion.

This path to nihilism and negation of what is important is the exact reason art exists. What the hell is the point of art if it doesn't mean anything. Tell me that!

Mr. Croshaw, you are truly an inspiration. I love your show and your stance on showing us that nothing is perfect and you can't just fanboy scream over anything. Now that I have started reading your articles "Extra Punctuation" I find myself further moved by your persona and opinions. You have my respect, good sir.

Of course, the real question here is: how seriously should we be taking anything that any critic says? I mean, I like reading Ebert's articles as much as anybody, and I too am disappointed that he doesn't seem to understand videogames, but come on, guys: he hated Kick-Ass (good film) and he loved Avatar (it's a piece of shit). He's not some infallible authority figure; he's just another dude, like Yahtzee, who gets paid to voice their opinion in an entertaining way. He's not paid to agree with what you or I may think about any given subject, or even to be particularly open-minded, or even to be entirely unbiased and reasonable.

I think we all have a tendency to forget that art is subjective, and so is writing about art. People like to think so, but there's not really such a thing as a consensus about what is or isn't art, nor should there be. The critics job is merely to say what they think, right or wrong. Agreeing or disagreeing with their opinion is fine, but ultimately I'd rather just enjoy hearing it.

ostro-whiskey:

mechanixis:

ostro-whiskey:

mechanixis:

ostro-whiskey:

Uncompetative:

ostro-whiskey:
This is the first time Yahtzee has made himself look like a moron, I think hes ego has gotten the better of him.

Videogames are not art for one simple reason, videogames are directly participatory, as such they are entertainment. If an artist relinquishes his art to free tampering by the audeince he is no longer an artist.

When an artist creates a piece of work everything has an implication and the audience simply observe, this immutability allows us to enter the mind and world of the artist.

Videogames remove this immutability, allowing the audience to interact with the world and story, cheapening them by revealing that they are an illusion we can manipulate. As such videogames kill the connection between character and story.

The reason confusion exists is because artists create games, you have concept artists, graphic designers, writers, composers, etc. As such games have artistic elements but the nature of the videogame - the audience being able to edit, change or omit elements of the creation remove the connection with what art is meant to be.

Think of graphics painted on a car, the graphics are art, is the car art ?
The car was created to serve the purpose of transporting people, and does this as always intended.

To claim games are art is to claim that pong or asteroids are also art, as todays games are made to serve the same desires that were being served when they were created.

If one looks at the history of film, since its origins it was artistic in vision and design, films like Nosferatu and Metropolis are evidence of this.

Yahtzees definition of art is so far beyond stupidity I would have fired him if I were the baws. "My personal definition of art is something that provokes emotional attachment."
By this logic beating a woman is art, so is watching your team win the world cup, and going to a gig of a kick ass band.

Improvisation Theatre is considered art and that is interactive.

But not through the audience, please put more thought into what you say.

Someone's snippy.

There's plenty of art that involves viewer interaction. Galleries full of video cameras that record the viewers and project them onto a wall. Blank spaces that invite the viewer to draw or write on them. The whole point of that kind of art is that it makes a statement about the audience and their reactions to the piece, as part of the piece itself. Games do it too on a very individual level.

omfg, I dont think you understand my point, is the audience allowed to adjust facial features on Picasso's abstract portraits ?
Is the audience allowed to make Batman go apeshit and start killing civillians in The Dark Knight ?

I think the problem is that many of you dont even understand the purpose of art, and therefore cannot appreciate what it means to be an artist, which is why you have no problem in devaluing art by trying to frame videogames with it.

Yeah, so, thanks for saying 'You don't understand art' and then not explaining why not or what art is. Real solid debating. What, so you're saying the examples I gave aren't actually art? Why not? It's still an artist conveying an emotional and intellectual statement, and a component of that statement is how the audience behaves when they experience it. Your definition of what constitutes a statement is simply narrower. You can't manipulate The Dark Knight or Picasso because they aren't pieces about the audience. Games are.

I would like to add I fully grasp the irony of arguing about this underneath an article that says arguing about this is pointless.

Jesus Christ guy, why cant you grasp the concept I am writing about. If an artist allows the audience to change their creation, they are not an artist. I did not say the examples you gave werent art, they simply have nothing to do with what I am stating.

I dont know if you're actually this stupid or just trying to piss me off.

But the audience isn't changing the piece in the way you're talking about. They're changing it in the ways that the artist has allowed and provided for. The game designer has designed everything it is possible for the player to do in the gamespace, and therefore everything they might do in it is part of the artist's intention. By playing the game incorrectly (killing friendly NPCs, skipping cutscenes, metagaming), the player no more 'changes' the piece than if someone viewing the Mona Lisa elects to stare only at the lower right hand corner or only at the background. Going into a game's source code and modifying it, that would be changing the piece. If you turn on noclip and let Gordon Freeman walk through walls, that's a change from the artist's intentions.

I completely grasp what you're trying to say; you're just not making a distinction between "modifying the piece" and "intended mutability as part of a piece".

I have found this to be an interesting question to discuss. Not just the "are video games art?" question but the nature of art it self. Its important to realise that by Ebert's definition (as vague as it is) Games are disqualified (Video or otherwise) because they are games. Its not interactivity or conjuring up emotion or even that art is superior - it's the fact that they are made to be played.

No, he isn't a gamer, but he is a smart man and has a wide breadth of knowledge when it comes to literature and art (even though he primarily deals with film). His opinion has sparked a debate (again, it did the same four years ago when he first expressed it) and caused many heated reactions. I find this thread refreshing in the fact that most people are giving well-reasoned arguments instead of the knee-jerk "he's right, gamers suck" or "he's an idiot" responses that most sites of the debate are inundated with.

I think that, as art is defined now, he is correct... but maybe its time to redefine art. Maybe games, by virtue of them being games, can't be called art in the traditional sense. But it would be foolish to dismiss them as having nothing to say to humanity or being devoid of any artistic merit (although many of them, even some of my favourites, are just that). Rather they can (or potentially can) contain art in their visuals, music, sound, characters and stories. For those special games that do it could be compared to walking through an art gallery. The gallery is not a work of art but contains many art-works in it. Alternatively a game could be viewed as a type of hyper-art where interactivity provides another way of reacting to the visuals, sound and story not available in other forms of art - hence why perhaps how we define art (as subjective as that word can be) will have to change.

Art is defined as "the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions." Therefore, Ebert is incorrect. Video Games are art, if you don't feel emotion while playing a good game today you are dead. There is a reason people keep coming back to games. It not only provides a rush, but good games with good stories provide a connection to the characters and story that is stronger than any movie. I would argue that Video Games are more of an art form than movies are. I must wholeheartedly disagree with Ebert. By definition he is incorrect. And his stance without having played a moment of video games is also reprehensible. How about you watch a movie with your eyes closed or ear plugs in your ears. Why don't you look at a color painting in black and white. You cannot judge something until you yourself have experienced it in its truest form.

And it is very elitist of him to try to compare video games to things such as the Sistine Chapel. They are two completely different mediums. Would you ask someone whos work is better? Spielberg or Shakespeare? Michaelangelo or Poe? You can't answer those questions because they aren't actually questions. It's like asking a sports buff who was a better player Michael Jordan or Pele? You can't answer because not only are they from different times, but they are in different sports. You do not measure an artist by other artists in different mediums, you measure an artist by his contemporaries and other famous artists in his medium. Ebert's arguments are foolish and show his stubborness and quite possibly ignorance on the issue.

Wow... that was... ridiculously deep. Uhm.... can't exactly respond to that... uhh... awesome segment?

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