I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!
Illustration for article titled Hey Internet, Maybe Ebert Had A Point

Oh no, but feel free to go down in the comments and tell me how you know better than one of the greatest art critics of all time.

If you haven't yet, please read this. It's Roger Ebert's famous piece on video games, where he says they can never be art. You may remember it from that time a bunch of people on the internet got mad without reading the actual article.


Done? Good.

Let me preface this by saying that I, personally, have a very broad definition of the word "art". I believe that if you call it art, it's art. It's not necessarily good art, but it's art if it's displayed as such.

Mr. Ebert disagrees with me, and it's not because he's out of touch. If you read the article, it's clear that this is a man who tweeted daily, read the messages urging him to reconsider his opinion, and truly thought about what they were asking.

But the point remains, and Ebert said it best— "that depends on the definition of art".


Wikipedia defines art somewhat similarly to the way I do— under this definition, anything can be art, from food, to a particularly well-designed car, to a Vermeer painting: "Art is the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."

Ebert disagrees.

One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.


Stop thinking as a gamer, and start thinking as a critically thinking individual. This makes a lot of sense. You can't "win" a painting, nor can you get a high score in a musical.

My notion is that it grows better the more it improves or alters nature through an passage through what we might call the artist's soul, or vision. Countless artists have drawn countless nudes. They are all working from nature. Some of there paintings are masterpieces, most are very bad indeed. How do we tell the difference? We know. It is a matter, yes, of taste.


Ebert points to Braid, to Flower, and to other "art" games with the air of a real art critic here, and, I would argue, convincingly makes the case that when stacked against the work of, say, Yeats, they don't stack up.

At the beginning of the essay, Ebert says games are not art yet. Maybe we'll get there. But think about it. How long did it take for us to get from cave paintings to the sculptures of the ancient Greeks? Thousands of years?


We're working with 40ish. We're not there yet.

And though I disagree, though I personally believe games are art, he makes a good point:

No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.


*mic drop*

(edited because you guys i don't think you're idiots i swear i'm so sorry oh noooooooo)

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