Oh, Roger Ebert. You've inspired such scorn among video game enthusiasts. While your legacy will forever shine brightly across the rest of the critical world, gamers will always frown and scowl at your disparaging comments about games. And with good reason—you said they could never be art, and them's harsh words.
Let me preface my argument by saying that I have an incredible respect for Ebert. As an art history student who has become jaded with the cynicism rampant in art and entertainment criticism, I was consistently convinced by Roger Ebert that genuine joy and respect are often times the most important tools of the critic's hand. Not only did he love his job, he loved film. So it goes without saying that I was deeply saddened by his passing.
Now, that being said, I still disagree with his comments on video games as art, and it may be because my perspective on video games is quite a bit different than his was.
Sam G. sums up Ebert's argument as, "You can win games, therefor they cannot be art." However, I cannot think of the last time I "won" a game that was not explicitly an emulation of a board game or a sport. As Jane McGonigal so wisely pointed out, Tetris is arguably the most popular video game in the world, yet no one has ever won Tetris. In fact, it is impossible to win Tetris because the very concept of the game depends on when you will lose. So, to look at video games as traditional "games" akin to chess or football, you limit your understanding of the medium. In his argument, Ebert seems so focused on the idea that games must be winnable that he constructs a straw-man out of an ignorant conception of what playing a video game is actually like.