Roger Ebert Admits His Mistake

"I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place," writes the famed movie critic. "I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen."

This past April, Ebert wrote a post titled "Video games can never be art" that carried dogmatic statements like this: "Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form."

Many gamers would argue that video games already are art and that Ebert simply doesn't know what he is talking about. His post drew over 4500 comments.

"My error in the first place was to think I could make a convincing argument on purely theoretical grounds," he writes in his latest post "Okay, kids, play on my lawn". Continuing, he adds, "What I was saying is that video games could not in principle be Art. That was a foolish position to take, particularly as it seemed to apply to the entire unseen future of games. This was pointed out to me maybe hundreds of times. How could I disagree? It is quite possible a game could someday be great Art."

Ebert still believes that video games can never be Art. "But I should never have said so," he adds. "Some opinions are best kept to yourself."

I disagree. Ebert is entitled to his opinion and entitled to express his opinion, just as 4500 commenters are entitled to their opinion. Perhaps it was the sweeping, definitive nature of Ebert's original post that caused such a stir? Or that he actually is someone many gamers respect?

The humility in admitting that he misspoke, though, is admirable. Saying that one is wrong is not easy - especially for someone who has made a living by his opinion. But Ebert has done it.

"Who was I to say video games didn't have the potential of becoming Art? Someday? There was no agreement among the thousands of posters about even one current game that was an unassailable masterpiece. Shadow of the Colossus came closest. I suppose that's the one I should begin with."

Yes, Roger. It is.

Okay, kids, play on my lawn [Roger Ebert's Journal][Pic]


    ofcourse games are art but the art is in the gameplay not just the visual side

      So Halo is art?

    I have so much respect for this guy, moreso now that he had the guts to admit his mistake.

    for me... art is somewhere between the intend of the creator and the effect it has on the audience... the many aspects (gameplay, storyline, visuals, music, sound..etc) of video games can work together as a medium to create art.

    a more interesting question would be whether a game can be both an art piece and a commercially feasible endevour at the same time... (I think this is why indie games are a lot closer to art explorations, than main stream games...)

    I'm sure there are some critics of the visual arts who maintain that movies have yet to attain true artistic status, so what goes around comes around. It's the rite of passage for any new medium.

    I have come to the conclusion that single player games can be art, but generally arent. And it doesn't matter. Art is shit for the most part. Games can be much more engaging, entertaining and culturally relevant than any art ever was.

    Best apology ever. I think he actually realises why people were angry, and addresses that without cowering down just because he was outspoken.

    Vincent Van Gogh was a brilliant painter, his use of colour was fantastic, but in his own time his paintings where considered a joke. Now we can't say what future generations will consider art, so he is right in that point of view.

    But let's look at the most important thing, he can't review a movie he hasn't seen. Yet he technially reviewed games he has not played.

    My personal view

    Now if a picture can be Art, and a Performance can be Art, Music and Songs can be Art are all these not entailed in video games? Does a Video game not contain art? And what is Art? Something we enjoy for the purposes of the thoughts and emotions it gives us? Beauty and Wonder surround us if we just look for it.

    What a lovely old man.

    The beauty of art is that it can be interpreted differently by certain individuals. So what Ebert's definition of art does no allow, another person's does.

    I classify the breathtaking magnificence I have experienced in gaming as art in its purest form. Leaving the hands of the creator, to enter the mind of it's recipient.


      The word "art" is ambiguous enough to begin with, so no wonder why it meets different people's expectations with such vastly differing spectrums and standards.

    It's good that this guy conceded.

    But as some one who plays games a lot, video games aren't near the same level as the major art forms (film, paint, music).

    Sure occasionly there is a game with a deep story and narrative, but the vast majority involve shooting over weight men with no necks and American football. This includes both mainstream and indie games.

    Man - I still gotta play Shadow of the Colossus - I've never seen a P/O copy

    An old guy has an obsolete opinion on something? Alert the Internets!!!

    The worst part about this is the 4500 spergin comments on his blog from gamers throwing up their flabby arms in protest. Why do they care so much why Roger Ebert doesn't think of gaming as art? Live and let live.

    I love videogames too and there are some games I've played recently (Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain) which I found extremely enjoyable and are so well written and with big-budget special effects and set-pieces that exceed most blockbusters. But are they art? Of course not. They're stil on a par with blockbusters/B-movies/action films.

    It'll be a long time before we see a videogame approach the artistic credibility of say, The Godfather, Citizen Kane or the Sistine Chapel. The very nature of videogames is to actively include the player and this usually means "Being able to shoot a lot of shit"

    I want to know how he is defining art. He is still disagreeing that video games are art. To me, all forms of expression is art, which video games could easily be categorised as.

    He's basically saying "Okay, I was wrong. Sort of. I'm still right, but I admit that I was wrong, in a way. But I was still mostly right."

    "I was wrong to express my opinion, even though my opinion is right" - that's about what he is saying, right? What a very admirable way to say that he's sorry for upsetting people who are stupid and wrong.

    Newflash: old generation makes disparaging and dismissive remarks about new media, old generation dies, new generation becomes old generation, repeat.

    It is good that he admitted his mistake.

    In all honestly, he should not have made the comment in the first place. He's a movie critic, not a game critic.

    @Cerzel, @Geoff Lester

    No what he is saying is that he shouldn't have expressed his opinion as if it were fact without being able to back it up with proof.

    He's come out and retracted his claim but, maintains his opinion. An opinion he, like everyone else is entitled to.

    You guys should try and show more maturity like he has.

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