The Ebert of Videogames

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Second World:
I think it'd be quite grand if Extra Consideration was revived as a weekly segment and included some of the latest reviews and perhaps included escapists outside Yahtzee, MovieBob, and Jim Sterling as regulars. Perhaps the three and someone to add some technical insight?

I imagine that'd be close to Siskel & Ebert. I know Yahtzee must be rather popular and Jim Sterling has a certain nuance of spoken language that's instantly recognizable. Typing "zero" in a search engine often offers "zero punctuation" as one of the top three suggested searches, and it's not like he forcefully extends his sphere of influence like Ebert did.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extraconsideration/

That's a really good idea. Someone needs to make Jim write for the Escapist because I can't be bothered with Destructoid.

Plus yeah. That's a good start. But I wonder if PBS would give them a show or not. I could see Yahtzee and Jim as a Siskel & Ebert pair. The problem is the games are just nowhere near there yet. They could totally do it though if the games existed. Right now their respective formats are as good as the games we have deserve. And I think they sense that. Because I think they are very smart chaps. Very smart chaps indeed.

PS: For people saying everything has moved to the Internet. That just isn't so. There will always be TV. Because its a more enjoyable medium. Watching little clips on the internet is a kind of devolution that you've just gotten used to. Like hunching over to stare into tiny screens that don't deliver content so much as you use them to hunt down little artifacts of content.

Mick P.:
Watching little clips on the internet is a kind of devolution that you've just gotten used to. Like hunching over to stare into tiny screens that don't deliver content so much as you use them to hunt down little artifacts of content.

Off topic, but this. So much this. I love the additional choice that the internet has given me, and the freedom its given me to consume media on my own schedule instead of that of some network executive, but the thing is, there's no way to channel surf on Youtube, you know? Hulu kind of creates rudimentary channels based on shows you're already watching, but it's so close to totally random that it's not exactly an elegant solution. It's kind of annoying to have to be so active in choosing your flavor of a fundamentally passive medium, and with the reduced chances to stumble upon something randomly, you wind up missing out on a lot of great shows and movies, too.

As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

Adam Sessler is pretty close.

albino boo:
The truth here is that gaming is a minority thing

Not even close. The majority of people, in the West and Japan and Korea at least, are gamers.

I know that the budgets of AAA games have gone up massively but they are still smaller than your average summer blockbuster.

There are 16 films that have ever made over $1 billion. Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 both made that much in two weeks. And it's not just money. Sticking with Black Ops 2, over 10 million sales in its first month, and millions of people queuing up to buy for a midnight release. There's a reason it's described as the biggest entertainment launch ever - because it was bigger than any film has ever been. And obviously it's not just a couple of popular games that are like this. Wii Sports - over 80 million copies sold. Super Mario Bros, a game originally released in the 80s, has over 40 million copies sold. World of Warcraft is considered to be slipping because it's dropped below 10 million subscribers - not sales, but people who actually pay money every month to carry on playing. Farmville is currently in freefall, and has dropped all the way down to 13 million people playing it every single day. Angry Birds has been downloaded nearly 2 billion times.

Or forget about specific examples and simply look at the industry as a whole (from 2008):

Video game industry in the US - $22 billion
Movie industry - $9.5 billion

If you throw in DVD sales as well then video games are still a bit behind, and up to date global figures seem a bit hard to come by. But the idea that video games are still some niche thing not worth the attention of the mainstream press is just ludicrous. Whether they've actually become the biggest sector of the entertainment industry or not, they're certainly very much up there with the big boys.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Oh, Shamus... didn't you already know? You're our Ebert.

Yeah, I was about to pull the Oz and say to Shamus that our Ebert was inside him all along.

All he needs is the confidence and some stability in his life. If you follow his site, you'd know that now, finally, that last part is a done deal.

Shamus, you can take thick programming vernacular and filter it for the layman. You have a really good thing going on with Spoiler Warning. All you need is to find a way to get some exposure.

Owyn_Merrilin:

Mick P.:
Watching little clips on the internet is a kind of devolution that you've just gotten used to. Like hunching over to stare into tiny screens that don't deliver content so much as you use them to hunt down little artifacts of content.

Off topic, but this. So much this. I love the additional choice that the internet has given me, and the freedom its given me to consume media on my own schedule instead of that of some network executive, but the thing is, there's no way to channel surf on Youtube, you know? Hulu kind of creates rudimentary channels based on shows you're already watching, but it's so close to totally random that it's not exactly an elegant solution. It's kind of annoying to have to be so active in choosing your flavor of a fundamentally passive medium, and with the reduced chances to stumble upon something randomly, you wind up missing out on a lot of great shows and movies, too.

As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

Point#1. I don't channel surf at all. In fact I sort of look down my nose at folks that do. Including my family.

But TV to me is a guide I can look through to select things to DVR so that I can pick from my DVR list to watch or have on in the background at my leisure. Maybe that's the modern equivalent of surfing. I think with Smart TVs websites can be syndicated into their own TV channels. And then satellite companies can download the channel from the web and then rebroadcast it to everyone's DVRs in a future where every website that could be can be a television channel.

I honestly think games should be delivered just like television too. You DVR the games and play them at your leisure. This is a way to deliver massive amounts of GBs of games without everyone hogging the bandwidth of the internet by having hundreds of GBs delivered directly to them personally. But anyway. It's just easier in my book. I don't have time to be my own agent. And its more practical in bandwidth terms as already mentioned.

Point#2. People who say this probably don't know who Roger Ebert is. In terms of you probably haven't spent a lot of time being in his audience, and you probably don't have a lot of other critics to compare that too if you have. Ebert isn't just a critic. He's a national if not international treasure. Or was. You can't compare him to all the critics of the internet combined. Or anything like that. If a critic badmouths Ebert its either pure jealousy or pure ignorance. It also suggests that the speaker doesn't comprehend the gulf that exists between movies and video games as a whole in terms of diversity depth and cultural relevance.

PS: Just to tack this on for anyone who has read this far down... I will say one thing. I often wonder about people who watch movies in theaters. I wonder frankly if they are mental or what. Because I couldn't imagine watching a movie in a theater, much less paying for it. It would be a complete waste of time. Full of distractions. And heaven forbid you must skip off to the toilet 3 times or even 1 time, well you are screwed and not getting a refund. Never mind that I can hardly sit through a 1 hour movie without picking it up the next day. Why give up the ability to rewind? So I don't understand how Hollywood expects to make money this way. If its profits don't come from royalties on television viewings etc. I don't understand how Hollywood plans to keep this up. Maybe every chair in the theater doubles as a toilet. Or maybe we all go there and watch the movies on glasses at our leisure. Still might as well be spending an afternoon in an insane asylum in my book.

When MovieBob bemoans low attendance I just want to reach out and smack some sense into him.

Mick P.:

Owyn_Merrilin:

Mick P.:
Watching little clips on the internet is a kind of devolution that you've just gotten used to. Like hunching over to stare into tiny screens that don't deliver content so much as you use them to hunt down little artifacts of content.

Off topic, but this. So much this. I love the additional choice that the internet has given me, and the freedom its given me to consume media on my own schedule instead of that of some network executive, but the thing is, there's no way to channel surf on Youtube, you know? Hulu kind of creates rudimentary channels based on shows you're already watching, but it's so close to totally random that it's not exactly an elegant solution. It's kind of annoying to have to be so active in choosing your flavor of a fundamentally passive medium, and with the reduced chances to stumble upon something randomly, you wind up missing out on a lot of great shows and movies, too.

As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

Point#1. I don't channel surf at all. In fact I sort of look down my nose at folks that do. Including my family.

But TV to me is a guide I can look through to select things to DVR so that I can pick from my DVR list to watch or have on in the background at my leisure. Maybe that's the modern equivalent of surfing. I think with Smart TVs websites can be syndicated into their own TV channels. And then satellite companies can download the channel from the web and then rebroadcast it to everyone's DVRs in a future where every website that could be can be a television channel.

I honestly think games should be delivered just like television too. You DVR the games and play them at your leisure. This is a way to deliver massive amounts of GBs of games without everyone hogging the bandwidth of the internet by having hundreds of GBs delivered directly to them personally. But anyway. It's just easier in my book. I don't have time to be my own agent. And its more practical in bandwidth terms as already mentioned.

Point#2. People who say this probably don't know who Roger Ebert is. In terms of you probably haven't spent a lot of time being in his audience, and you probably don't have a lot of other critics to compare that too if you have. Ebert isn't just a critic. He's a national if not international treasure. Or was. You can't compare him to all the critics of the internet combined. Or anything like that. If a critic badmouths Ebert its either pure jealousy or pure ignorance. It also suggests that the speaker doesn't comprehend the gulf that exists between movies and video games as a whole in terms of diversity depth and cultural relevance.

PS: Just to tack this on for anyone who has read this far down... I will say one thing. I often wonder about people who watch movies in theaters. I wonder frankly if they are mental or what. Because I couldn't imagine watching a movie in a theater, much less paying for it. It would be a complete waste of time. Full of distractions. And heaven forbid you must skip off to the toilet 3 times or even 1 time, well you are screwed and not getting a refund. Never mind that I can hardly sit through a 1 hour movie without picking it up the next day. Why give up the ability to rewind? So I don't understand how Hollywood expects to make money this way. If its profits don't come from royalties on television viewings etc. I don't understand how Hollywood plans to keep this up. Maybe every chair in the theater doubles as a toilet. Or maybe we all go there and watch the movies on glasses at our leisure. Still might as well be spending an afternoon in an insane asylum in my book.

When MovieBob bemoans low attendance I just want to reach out and smack some sense into him.

Point #2 is more about the way Ebert regarded films as an artform, and relayed it in a way that the average person could understand. I don't /want/ games to get more artistic, because games don't do arty all that well, and attempts to force them to be arty tend to result in terrible games. Good art, maybe -- that's totally in the eye of the beholder -- but terrible games. Some people would argue that that's because we haven't discovered how to properly use the medium yet, but I'd say we were doing it right from day one, with titles like Pong and Spacewar. These new "art games" are more like poorly directed movies than good games.

As for point #1, channel surfing when there's nothing you know to be good on is a good way to find cool stuff that you'd otherwise totally pass up. I'm not saying you should never settle on a single program while doing it (it annoys me to no end when I'm watching a show and someone else in the room is trying to watch that and one or two others at the same time and on the same screen), but there's something to be said for flipping through the channels while looking for something to watch, especially during the dead hours of late night, daytime, and to a lesser extent weekend TV.

Also, videogames as TV channels has been done. It's basically how the Bandai Satelliview for the Super Famicom worked, although it was satellite channels instead of cable channels. It wasn't all that great of a system by modern standards because, in true TV fashion, if you wanted to play a new game, you had to play it when it started, or barring that, catch a re-run at some point down the road. Anything that gives the "viewer" more control would for all intents and purposes be a digital distribution service, like Steam and its competitors. As someone who has accounts with a solid half dozen of them, it's a functional method of distributing games. I guess you could go the route Gakai and Onlive use and stream the game from a remote server, but that has its own issues with input lag. No matter how fast they get the data to flow, there's a hard speed limit in the form of the speed of light, which when we're talking about button presses in videogames where milliseconds often count, actually will come into play for anyone not living right down the street from the server.

Edit: Oh, and the theatrical experience is a social experience (if you live in the US, anyway. People in the UK are stodgy and don't do emotions, if their reactions to learning what our theaters are like can be believed) where, unless the theater is absolutely terribly maintained, you've got better sound quality than in the average person's home (although it can typically be beaten by a home theater setup for well under $500, especially if you're good at getting cheap and used components), and a picture that literally cannot be beaten in the home, unless you're so fabulously wealthy you have room for a screen taller than most people's houses.

Kahani:

albino boo:
The truth here is that gaming is a minority thing

Not even close. The majority of people, in the West and Japan and Korea at least, are gamers.

I know that the budgets of AAA games have gone up massively but they are still smaller than your average summer blockbuster.

There are 16 films that have ever made over $1 billion. Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 both made that much in two weeks. And it's not just money. Sticking with Black Ops 2, over 10 million sales in its first month, and millions of people queuing up to buy for a midnight release. There's a reason it's described as the biggest entertainment launch ever - because it was bigger than any film has ever been. And obviously it's not just a couple of popular games that are like this. Wii Sports - over 80 million copies sold. Super Mario Bros, a game originally released in the 80s, has over 40 million copies sold. World of Warcraft is considered to be slipping because it's dropped below 10 million subscribers - not sales, but people who actually pay money every month to carry on playing. Farmville is currently in freefall, and has dropped all the way down to 13 million people playing it every single day. Angry Birds has been downloaded nearly 2 billion times.

Or forget about specific examples and simply look at the industry as a whole (from 2008):

Video game industry in the US - $22 billion
Movie industry - $9.5 billion

If you throw in DVD sales as well then video games are still a bit behind, and up to date global figures seem a bit hard to come by. But the idea that video games are still some niche thing not worth the attention of the mainstream press is just ludicrous. Whether they've actually become the biggest sector of the entertainment industry or not, they're certainly very much up there with the big boys.

The Avengers sold 79,601,474 tickets in the US. Cod MW3 sold 26 million units worldwide.

Mick P.:

EDITED: I mean, 70 more years before we'll see a guy on a couch on PBS reviewing the video games that came out this week doesn't seem so crazy to me. The idea alone seems so futuristic that it's not even worth thinking about. This is where movies were 100 years ago.

See, this is exactly why your comparison is useless. TV is already dying, yet you're using it as a yardstick for success 70 years into the future just because, hey, that's what worked for films 40 years ago.

Internet, man - a place in which gaming is already taken very seriously, and is sure as shit more relevant than TV.

craddoke:
They're not exactly Ebert, but the crew at Extra Credits on Penny Arcade (late of the Escapist) does a pretty good job of mixing high-minded rumination with accessibility. The real problem is going to be the Balkanization of popular culture in today's world - even Ebert couldn't be Ebert if he were just starting out today.

The biggest problem Extra Credits is that they know absolutely nothing about anything they touch on. They are good at dressing there shit up in a academic manner to make it seem high-minded but that's all it is, dress-up.

I'd like to also nominate Yahtzee. His reviews and columns changed the way I look at video games as an artistic storytelling medium.

He doesn't just "hate on everything." He holds games up to a higher standard than "it was fun I guess," which internet culture isn't used to.

Mick P.:
I think with Smart TVs websites can be syndicated into their own TV channels. And then satellite companies can download the channel from the web and then rebroadcast it to everyone's DVRs in a future where every website that could be can be a television channel.

I honestly think games should be delivered just like television too. You DVR the games and play them at your leisure. This is a way to deliver massive amounts of GBs of games without everyone hogging the bandwidth of the internet by having hundreds of GBs delivered directly to them personally. But anyway. It's just easier in my book. I don't have time to be my own agent. And its more practical in bandwidth terms as already mentioned.

Interesting idea, but unless the world completely abandons wired Internet, what we'd save in bandwidth isn't nearly worth the loss of convenience. You'd have to "reserve" a website you want to look at and wait for whatever time of day the cable company decides to "air" it, instead of having it at your fingertips whenever you need it. With games it might be less of a hassle, especially with all the people wanting it the day it comes out, but what happens if there's a disrupted signal? (Which is especially likely if you're dealing with satellite, as you suggest.) With television you get a momentary blip on the screen and then you're back to the show; with a game you could end up with a critical bit of data corrupted and no way to get it back because, sorry, the broadcast's over for today. Gotta wait 'til tomorrow and hope the signal is perfect the whole way through then.

Shamus, you forgot Deus Ex as one of Warren Spector's works. But the whole "Video Games' Roger Ebert" thing sounds like a reaction to what Ebert said about games not being art. Art is subjective and only fits to certain people's tastes. Other people mentioned Escapist staff as candidates for gaming's Ebert, so why not you? Or Jim? Or Yahtzee? the Extra Credits gang could also fit, if they went for actual reviews of games in their videos (which I'm way behind on).

GamerKT:
The closest we have is Adam Sessler, I think.

Better him than Morgan Webb; I found her reviews to snooty and "humor" too dry to be funny. What has the former cast of X-Play been up to since it went off the air?

I definitely think Adam Sessler is the closest thing we have and it's quite nice to watch some of his reviews now in comparison to when he was at G4 and had to make lame jokes on Xplay.

Owyn_Merrilin:

Point #2 is more about the way Ebert regarded films as an artform, and relayed it in a way that the average person could understand. I don't /want/ games to get more artistic, because games don't do arty all that well, and attempts to force them to be arty tend to result in terrible games. Good art, maybe -- that's totally in the eye of the beholder -- but terrible games. Some people would argue that that's because we haven't discovered how to properly use the medium yet, but I'd say we were doing it right from day one, with titles like Pong and Spacewar. These new "art games" are more like poorly directed movies than good games.

Good point, sir, but I still personally side for the 'games as art' angle. More for the fact that, at this point in my life and keeping up with this hobby, I'm more excited for new experiences, ultimately over what I'd call 'fun'. I'm older now, and I can have other avenues for 'fun' than video games, so they can stand to be bad every once in a while. Alongside of that, and I think reflects the drive of many for 'artsy' games is that video games (in a general perspective) can be kind of bland (or I should say have few types of fun), especially in this generation, what with the prevalence of the first-person shooter. Even some of the more artsy games of this generation, say your Braid, Thomas Was Alone, etc. step heavily into aged genres (both here being platformers). I think us looking for art in games are just looking for as novel an experience as possible, or perhaps the next genre in games (...so there can be more retreads).

As for video games' Ebert, I don't think we'll have one for quite some time. The gaming community seems so...fractured. 'We're' split between genres we don't like (to the point of almost hating a person for liking it), and we're split by the pricing for games; not so much that prices differ, but the high investment of games prevents us from having the fun of experimenting with other games. 'We', in my eyes, have hardly a community at all; hell, look at the Phil Fish fiasco . Regardless of the man acting like a douche, who else in gaming would you respect, if not the developers, the people crafting your hobby (and I am implying that not all of us can craft our hobby, at least now)? But it seems we can't do even that. Just from this perspective alone, would the large majority of us follow a particular 'academic' of games? I would even question if they really knew more than any of us who try to keep up with the news through the internet.

beatboxingforthedeaf:

The biggest problem Extra Credits is that they know absolutely nothing about anything they touch on. They are good at dressing there shit up in a academic manner to make it seem high-minded but that's all it is, dress-up.

The sad thing is that they're still people who think this, yet their whole point was to create a food for thought; a discussion between people who might, and just only might KNOW MORE ABOUT ANYTHING THEY TOUCH UPON. Get over your blatant fear of academia; you might see better for it.

albino boo:

Kahani:

albino boo:
The truth here is that gaming is a minority thing

Not even close. The majority of people, in the West and Japan and Korea at least, are gamers.

I know that the budgets of AAA games have gone up massively but they are still smaller than your average summer blockbuster.

There are 16 films that have ever made over $1 billion. Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 both made that much in two weeks. And it's not just money. Sticking with Black Ops 2, over 10 million sales in its first month, and millions of people queuing up to buy for a midnight release. There's a reason it's described as the biggest entertainment launch ever - because it was bigger than any film has ever been. And obviously it's not just a couple of popular games that are like this. Wii Sports - over 80 million copies sold. Super Mario Bros, a game originally released in the 80s, has over 40 million copies sold. World of Warcraft is considered to be slipping because it's dropped below 10 million subscribers - not sales, but people who actually pay money every month to carry on playing. Farmville is currently in freefall, and has dropped all the way down to 13 million people playing it every single day. Angry Birds has been downloaded nearly 2 billion times.

Or forget about specific examples and simply look at the industry as a whole (from 2008):

Video game industry in the US - $22 billion
Movie industry - $9.5 billion

If you throw in DVD sales as well then video games are still a bit behind, and up to date global figures seem a bit hard to come by. But the idea that video games are still some niche thing not worth the attention of the mainstream press is just ludicrous. Whether they've actually become the biggest sector of the entertainment industry or not, they're certainly very much up there with the big boys.

The Avengers sold 79,601,474 tickets in the US. Cod MW3 sold 26 million units worldwide.

Sadly, MW3 probably still made more (or at least comparable -- I know MW2 was the most profitable /entertainment product/ of all time when it came out) money, because of how expensive the individual games are. We're talking $60 a pop + another $30-$60 worth of DLC for the full experience vs. $9-15 a pop, plus maybe $10 on snacks if you don't just smuggle your own in. Part of the reason prices on games are so high despite many people not being able to afford it is the publishers are happy to take more money from a smaller audience, and they're unwilling to experiment and see if they could make more money by pricing a major title lower and selling it to more people, the way

Steve the Pocket:

Mick P.:
I think with Smart TVs websites can be syndicated into their own TV channels. And then satellite companies can download the channel from the web and then rebroadcast it to everyone's DVRs in a future where every website that could be can be a television channel.

I honestly think games should be delivered just like television too. You DVR the games and play them at your leisure. This is a way to deliver massive amounts of GBs of games without everyone hogging the bandwidth of the internet by having hundreds of GBs delivered directly to them personally. But anyway. It's just easier in my book. I don't have time to be my own agent. And its more practical in bandwidth terms as already mentioned.

Interesting idea, but unless the world completely abandons wired Internet, what we'd save in bandwidth isn't nearly worth the loss of convenience. You'd have to "reserve" a website you want to look at and wait for whatever time of day the cable company decides to "air" it, instead of having it at your fingertips whenever you need it. With games it might be less of a hassle, especially with all the people wanting it the day it comes out, but what happens if there's a disrupted signal? (Which is especially likely if you're dealing with satellite, as you suggest.) With television you get a momentary blip on the screen and then you're back to the show; with a game you could end up with a critical bit of data corrupted and no way to get it back because, sorry, the broadcast's over for today. Gotta wait 'til tomorrow and hope the signal is perfect the whole way through then.

Well wired internet cannot go everywhere. And all communications go through backbones. Whereas a satellite broadcast goes everywhere and delivers to millions instantaneously. The television and radio industry deliver their content internally by satellite, so it can be done with precision. My satellite internet service has a 10GB monthly cap, accept for there is a window after midnight where nothing is counted I could not download more than a handful of short videos, and you can probably guess, I don't wait until midnight to watch videos, but that is the right time to download a game. On the other hand my satellite television provider has no cap, and I download probably 1000s of GBs a month without giving it much thought.

Right now very few people use the internet. In the future everyone will. And the world population will double. Wireless is already reaching the maximum that can be transmitted over air. Anyway. This is enough off topic. I'd much rather DVR a game from my television provider at no additional charge than deal with a digital store interface, much less pay for the game.

Ipsen:

beatboxingforthedeaf:

The biggest problem Extra Credits is that they know absolutely nothing about anything they touch on. They are good at dressing there shit up in a academic manner to make it seem high-minded but that's all it is, dress-up.

The sad thing is that they're still people who think this, yet their whole point was to create a food for thought; a discussion between people who might, and just only might KNOW MORE ABOUT ANYTHING THEY TOUCH UPON. Get over your blatant fear of academia; you might see better for it.

"Blatant fear of academia" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


My problem isn't with academia, it's with the fact that they aren't academic in the slightest. Their videos are full of half truths and misinformation, but because they speak in an academic manner people seem to put some credit in the bullshit they spout.

Heres an example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6XnL6bKqT0

Now, what I would love to see, is more good academia in gaming, like this guy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QLz0CqtMVc
or this guy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28lTUkNmdNg

Woodsey:

Mick P.:

EDITED: I mean, 70 more years before we'll see a guy on a couch on PBS reviewing the video games that came out this week doesn't seem so crazy to me. The idea alone seems so futuristic that it's not even worth thinking about. This is where movies were 100 years ago.

See, this is exactly why your comparison is useless. TV is already dying, yet you're using it as a yardstick for success 70 years into the future just because, hey, that's what worked for films 40 years ago.

Internet, man - a place in which gaming is already taken very seriously, and is sure as shit more relevant than TV.

No. I can choose from either. I still prefer a magazine to reading from my workstation. And I prefer television to dealing with websites. That doesn't mean that websites can't be repackaged as television and magazines can't be downloaded onto pieces of digital paper.

You are a slave to these mediums. It seems neat now. But it will seem primitive in the future. And people will still be watching TVs in the future. Just like in Futurama. Hopefully what people won't be doing is spending any time hunched over slaving over little piddly devices as seen in some commercial on television. Quality of life. Productivity. These toys offer neither.

Owyn_Merrilin:
As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

This is why Ebert reviews art and not board games. I think this is missing the point. There is room in the world for all things. There is no need to feel threatened.

Point #2 is more about the way Ebert regarded films as an artform, and relayed it in a way that the average person could understand. I don't /want/ games to get more artistic, because games don't do arty all that well, and attempts to force them to be arty tend to result in terrible games. Good art, maybe -- that's totally in the eye of the beholder -- but terrible games. Some people would argue that that's because we haven't discovered how to properly use the medium yet, but I'd say we were doing it right from day one, with titles like Pong and Spacewar. These new "art games" are more like poorly directed movies than good games.

That's the idea. You might have 1000s and only 1 is any good. But if they are not being made than the good ones will never emerge. Video games are like movies or books (among other mediums) except even more visceral. If the game doesn't approach the medium in that way then its disqualified from comparison with traditional media. And its firmly in the board game or sport camp. You don't compare a movie to ESPN or the game show channel.

EDITED: So if this thread is about Roger Ebert vs. video games. Games that cannot be compared to movies do not have any place in this thread. Anymore than Ebert would sit down and tell us about Mouse Trap.... unless it was Mouse Trap: The Movie. Then he'd have to I guess.

Mick P.:

Owyn_Merrilin:
As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

This is why Ebert reviews art and not board games. I think this is missing the point. There is room in the world for all things. There is no need to feel threatened.

Point #2 is more about the way Ebert regarded films as an artform, and relayed it in a way that the average person could understand. I don't /want/ games to get more artistic, because games don't do arty all that well, and attempts to force them to be arty tend to result in terrible games. Good art, maybe -- that's totally in the eye of the beholder -- but terrible games. Some people would argue that that's because we haven't discovered how to properly use the medium yet, but I'd say we were doing it right from day one, with titles like Pong and Spacewar. These new "art games" are more like poorly directed movies than good games.

That's the idea. You might have 1000s and only 1 is any good. But if they are not being made than the good ones will never emerge. Video games are like movies or books (among other mediums) except even more visceral. If the game doesn't approach the medium in that way then its disqualified from comparison with traditional media. And its firmly in the board game or sport camp. You don't compare a movie to ESPN or the game show channel.

EDITED: So if this thread is about Roger Ebert vs. video games. Games that cannot be compared to movies do not have any place in this thread. Anymore than Ebert would sit down and tell us about Mouse Trap.... unless it was Mouse Trap: The Movie. Then he'd have to I guess.

The good ones exist, though. I was playing one today. Saying Ebert wouldn't sit down and tell us about Mouse Trap is exactly the point: this is not a good choice for an artistic medium. Focusing on it as an art form (or at least as a story telling medium, which is the area of art that that focus keeps landing on) only emphasizes the things it does poorly while skipping over the things it does well. There are many things videogames are good at, telling stories is not one of them. If you want to focus on the artistic merits of gaming as a medium, that's the wrong direction to be aiming in.

Owyn_Merrilin:

Mick P.:

Owyn_Merrilin:
As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

This is why Ebert reviews art and not board games. I think this is missing the point. There is room in the world for all things. There is no need to feel threatened.

Point #2 is more about the way Ebert regarded films as an artform, and relayed it in a way that the average person could understand. I don't /want/ games to get more artistic, because games don't do arty all that well, and attempts to force them to be arty tend to result in terrible games. Good art, maybe -- that's totally in the eye of the beholder -- but terrible games. Some people would argue that that's because we haven't discovered how to properly use the medium yet, but I'd say we were doing it right from day one, with titles like Pong and Spacewar. These new "art games" are more like poorly directed movies than good games.

That's the idea. You might have 1000s and only 1 is any good. But if they are not being made than the good ones will never emerge. Video games are like movies or books (among other mediums) except even more visceral. If the game doesn't approach the medium in that way then its disqualified from comparison with traditional media. And its firmly in the board game or sport camp. You don't compare a movie to ESPN or the game show channel.

EDITED: So if this thread is about Roger Ebert vs. video games. Games that cannot be compared to movies do not have any place in this thread. Anymore than Ebert would sit down and tell us about Mouse Trap.... unless it was Mouse Trap: The Movie. Then he'd have to I guess.

The good ones exist, though. I was playing one today. Saying Ebert wouldn't sit down and tell us about Mouse Trap is exactly the point: this is not a good choice for an artistic medium. Focusing on it as an art form (or at least as a story telling medium, which is the area of art that that focus keeps landing on) only emphasizes the things it does poorly while skipping over the things it does well. There are many things videogames are good at, telling stories is not one of them. If you want to focus on the artistic merits of gaming as a medium, that's the wrong direction to be aiming in.

You just need to divide games up into two camps. Traditional story telling media. And hobby / sport. And this problem gets solved. If you are confused which is which. General rule is if you can't consume the games like potato chips, then they are hobby / sport. If you can they are story telling media.

Owyn_Merrilin:

albino boo:

Kahani:

Not even close. The majority of people, in the West and Japan and Korea at least, are gamers.

There are 16 films that have ever made over $1 billion. Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 both made that much in two weeks. And it's not just money. Sticking with Black Ops 2, over 10 million sales in its first month, and millions of people queuing up to buy for a midnight release. There's a reason it's described as the biggest entertainment launch ever - because it was bigger than any film has ever been. And obviously it's not just a couple of popular games that are like this. Wii Sports - over 80 million copies sold. Super Mario Bros, a game originally released in the 80s, has over 40 million copies sold. World of Warcraft is considered to be slipping because it's dropped below 10 million subscribers - not sales, but people who actually pay money every month to carry on playing. Farmville is currently in freefall, and has dropped all the way down to 13 million people playing it every single day. Angry Birds has been downloaded nearly 2 billion times.

Or forget about specific examples and simply look at the industry as a whole (from 2008):

Video game industry in the US - $22 billion
Movie industry - $9.5 billion

If you throw in DVD sales as well then video games are still a bit behind, and up to date global figures seem a bit hard to come by. But the idea that video games are still some niche thing not worth the attention of the mainstream press is just ludicrous. Whether they've actually become the biggest sector of the entertainment industry or not, they're certainly very much up there with the big boys.

The Avengers sold 79,601,474 tickets in the US. Cod MW3 sold 26 million units worldwide.

Sadly, MW3 probably still made more (or at least comparable -- I know MW2 was the most profitable /entertainment product/ of all time when it came out) money, because of how expensive the individual games are. We're talking $60 a pop + another $30-$60 worth of DLC for the full experience vs. $9-15 a pop, plus maybe $10 on snacks if you don't just smuggle your own in. Part of the reason prices on games are so high despite many people not being able to afford it is the publishers are happy to take more money from a smaller audience, and they're unwilling to experiment and see if they could make more money by pricing a major title lower and selling it to more people, the way

I was pretty much making the same point in my original post which that guy edited down.

albino boo:

craddoke:
They're not exactly Ebert, but the crew at Extra Credits on Penny Arcade (late of the Escapist) does a pretty good job of mixing high-minded rumination with accessibility. The real problem is going to be the Balkanization of popular culture in today's world - even Ebert couldn't be Ebert if he were just starting out today.

Extra credits only reaches a tiny part of the numbers gamers and nothing of the world beyond gamers. Extra credits has no main stream media presence The truth here is that gaming is a minority thing, I know that the budgets of AAA games have gone up massively but they are still smaller than your average summer blockbuster. Look at the price point, the cost of entry into a cinema is far lower than the launch price of AAA game. This is because of the simple reason more people go to the movies than game.

10 to 15 years time gaming might be become more mainstream but at the moment the number of people interested gaming is to small for it to get mainstream critics.

I'm sorry, Shamus, but you've used Campster's super ultra exclusive patented term. I'm afraid we'll have to ask you to turn in your nerd badge now.

"And the question that really eats me is: Even if such a person showed up, would anyone actually read them? I don't just mean the public in general. I mean, would gamers read it? Does the gaming public want artsy ruminations and anecdote-driven analysis of intent and craft? Do people want to talk about kinesthetics, ludonarrative dissonance, narrative mechanics, gamification, and power creep?"

Yes they do. There are podcasts like Three Moves Ahead, Idle Thumbs, and Quart2Three's games podcast that get into that type of stuff and I don't know how popular they are but they keep doing new ones. I think among a certain type of gamer there is a strong hunger for this deeper analysis and commentary, true gaming criticism that just doesn't get done anywhere else.

In fact if you want to make the argument for someone being the Roger Ebert of video games I might throw in the hat of Tom Chick. Go read some of his reviews.

Owyn_Merrilin:

As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

You've got that incredibly, bizarrely backwards. The Extra Credits crowd is consistently on the side of mechanics and narrative through gameplay; it's the big publishers who are trying to push "cinematic" gameplay which amounts to trying to replace meaningful interaction with scripted sequences and cinematic.

BloodSquirrel:

Owyn_Merrilin:

As for getting a Roger Ebert of gaming: why would I ever want that? We have tons of them, they're called games as art hipsters and they annoy the crap out of me with there incessant attempts to "move the medium forward" by removing everything I love about it and replacing it with things better done in books and movies. I think I speak for everyone who was ever annoyed by an episode of Extra Credits when I say "screw that."

You've got that incredibly, bizarrely backwards. The Extra Credits crowd is consistently on the side of mechanics and narrative through gameplay; it's the big publishers who are trying to push "cinematic" gameplay which amounts to trying to replace meaningful interaction with scripted sequences and cinematic.

Yet they gush about things like Dear Esther, which is nothing but a movie in which the player controls the camera -- meaning it's a poorly directed movie. And they occasionally pay lip service to the idea that it's okay for pure gameplay games to coexist with their arty farty crap, but they then proceed to spend the entire rest of the video talking about how horrible games that focus on the gameplay are, and how they need to focus more on the art. The only thing more obnoxious than the videos themselves were the rabid fans we had around here when the show was still on this site, who typically didn't even bother with the lip service in their quest to "move the medium forward."

Casual Shinji:
We already have plenty of videogame Eberts. The problem is that they're being drowned out by everyone else with a Youtube account. Roger Ebert was mainly staying in the picture because of his pre-internet legacy.

We live in an age where media gets consumed by the bucket loads. By the time I finished writing this post I'll likely have watched 5 or so videos on Youtube. Red Letter Media made a good point in one of their reviews, that the more media options we get, the more everything will blur together, and the less anything special will stick out in our minds for very long.

pretty much what Aldous Huxley predicted...

I do watch Zero Punctuation reviews of games I probably would never play in a million billion million years and would likely run screaming from the room if I found myself playing any of them. But is Yahtzee that much of a critic? Is he communicating structure and craft to the masses the way Ebert did? Come to think of it, did Ebert really communicate craft to the masses regarding film, or did people just read his column to see him write the word "hated" ten times?

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