Hey Ebert, Play This Game

Roger Ebert did a brave thing today, a terrible thing today: He admitted that he was wrong and said he has no plans on rectifying that.

Ebert, America's movie critic, has long held that video games are not art. This morning he gave up; not his notion that games aren't art, but his right to espouse an opinion about the subject.

I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

Ebert throws himself on the sword not because his opinion was incorrect, but because it was uninformed. Bravo for that, but then moments later he tells us that, with what I as a gamer can only perceive as disdain, he has no interest in playing games that could very well be art because he has better things to do with his time like read a book or watch a movie.

I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like quitting. This is the critics version of flipping over the Monopoly board and stalking from the room.

Ebert watches plenty of movies, bad movies, movies he knows he will hate. Couldn't he skip one and play a game for two hours instead? Or maybe it isn't that he has better things to do with his life, but that he's afraid of what he'll find. That he knows deep down that video games can and are supplanting his medium of choice in many ways.

Either way I think it is disingenuous for him not to at least play a game, give it a chance.

Here's the deal Ebert. We're going to come up with a short list for you of quick, deeply interesting games that you can pick from. Play one and then don't tell a soul what you think.

But what game? If you had one chance to convince someone that video games are meaningful which game would you pick?

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time because of its beloved status among critics? Uncharted 2 because of its movie-like nature? Flower because of its delicate aesthetic?

It's akin to asking someone to name one movie, one book, one album that summarises everything good about that medium.

It's an impossible task. So let's agree collectively as gamers to drop it. We can't make a person love games like we love games. And that's OK, they're the ones missing out.


Comments

    I think the only hard choice here is whether to go with Flower or Shadow of the Colossus.

      the only real hard choice is why we would waste any more time on this guy. he essentially admits that he doesnt consider video games are because he doesnt want to.

      but really if were going to pick games that can be considered art:

      Final Fantasy 7, i dont need to say what part defines it. everyone who has played it knows, many who havent know anyway. and they know because they all shared that same emotional reaction. anyone who played the game that reads this just smiles in recognition, followed by a breif twinge of sandness.

      how is somthing that provokes that kind of emotional responce in a generation of gamers any less artistic than any novel or film.

        As much as I love FFVII, this is an especially bad example, as Mr. Ebert will no doubt laugh at how badly done the story actually is once you rip all the plot holes apart. He will most likely pay attention to the story a lot more than us gamers as his main focus all these years has been how well the story develops and is paced.

        The gameplay of FFVII is always my favourite part of it, and I myself keep going back to it from time to time. But keep dreaming if you think that it was emotionally deep and written well, because it wasn't. You and many others convinced yourselves that the story was great, when in reality it was as badly written as FFVIII, FFX/FFX-2 and FFXIII.

    Something Suda51. Most probably Killer7. I mean, that barely even qualifies as a game, so it's probably a lot closer to art than most.

    I would say to approach from two directions.
    On one side is the artsy games like Shadow of the Colossus, Braid, Flower.
    On the other side is giving something he is more familiar with, like Metal Gear Solid 4, since that is mostly movie already anyway.

      I'd say that Braid is a bit too twitchy and relies to some extent on the player being familiar with the platform games its referencing

    don't forget he's an old bloke that doesn't have much experience in gaming, don't give him anything that will be too hard to for him play. I would think games like MGS4, Shadow of the Colossus, Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy 7 would prove too difficult for a brand new gamer. I would suggest a game with simple controls. Braid? Super Mario World 3? World of Goo? The Sims?

    I'd suggest Heavy Rain, it'd be a good intro since its trying to create an interactive movie (in the good way rather than the "Hey its 1996 and we have CDs, lets hite Z grade actors and make gamers click once every 3 minutes" way) so he'd be partially in his comfort zone, it starts slow and gives you plenty of time to get used to the controls and before you know it you're twitching like a maniac and saying ohshitohshitohshitohshit whilst you're speeding the wrong way down the highway in the rain desperately trying to dodge the oncoming traffic and police

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