Can games be art?
It all started back in October of 2005, when Ebert reviewed the film Doom
and gave it one star. A few days later, a gamer wrote to Ebert
and insisted that he had missed the point---Doom
wasn't supposed to be a good, watchable film; it was supposed to be a tribute to a seminal video game. The Kurosawa film Rashomon
was mentioned as comparable in terms of---shall we say---seminality to the game Doom
. In response, Ebert planted the seed that would eventually grow into the vine that we are all still climbing. He wrote, "As long as there is a great movie unseen or a great book unread, I will continue to be unable to find the time to play video games."
A few weeks later, Ebert expanded on that point, claiming that books and films are better mediums
than games. A few weeks after that, Ebert dropped his first explicit "games can't be art" bombshell, citing the lack of authorial control
, due to player choice, as the hurdle that would forever keep games from catching up with art-capable mediums like literature and film.
Ebert kept quiet about games for a year or so after that. Then along came Mr. Clive Barker, who, somewhat clumsily, claimed that games can be art
(a video of his full keynote would be nice---anyone got it?). Just last week, Ebert responded to Barker in mock-dialog style, somewhat revising his former position: games can be art, but not high art
, as he understands it. Kotaku just posted a worthwhile feature
that responds to Ebert's latest.
It's time for me to chime in here, and I'm going to continue the mock-dialog style. I don't know Ebert, but I feel like I do, because I've been reading his reviews for years. This man knows film, and I respect him deeply.
Read the full debate
over at Arthouse Games.
Labels: ar0707, arthouse