Roger Ebert Not-So-Subtly Reminds Us What He Thinks Of Video Games

Roger Ebert is a very smart man and a very sharp and entertaining writer who just happens to think very, very poorly of video games.

Sometimes our gamer discussions leak out into the mainstream, as recently happened with Michael Thomsen's piece on Slate. In his article, as we reported, Thomsen challenged the idea that a lengthy game — in this case, Dark Souls could ever be worthwhile. One could, he argued, get all of the real meat of a game in the first five hours. Like eating too large a meal, where the taste wears off before the plate is empty, he argues that a lengthy game is "diluted into a thin, tasteless nothing by the time you've invested yourself in completing it."

The counter-argument, as articulated by our own Kirk Hamilton, is that the process and mechanics of playing a game are a part of experiencing its worth: "I look at the countless hours I've devoted to these strange digital contraptions over the years and I feel I can say with certainty that games have meaning. Length has nothing to do with it."

Ebert, alas, seems to land on the side of the negative opinion.


    He's an old bloke that has never played a game. What do you expect?

    There was a post on Reddit that I feel provides apt comparison - there are people who go into video games with the same intentions they'd have going to see a concert. Then there are others who approach a game with the same mindset they'd have with learning an instrument. They're both means to listening to music. Some enjoy the playing, some enjoy the watching and listening.

    I hope he wasn't referring to Skyrim... because that would deaden my soul as well.

    Maybe he should try something a little clearer in its story objectives. Open world games are generally a poor introduction to narrative games when it's so easy to get lost...

    (Not trolling, just stating an opinion - it's not my cup of tea.)

    I dunno, "Video games can never be art" was a better Ebert quote. Still makes me laugh.

      Oh damn, he said that? He's lost a great deal of respect from me then. That quote indicates that he hasn't spent five minutes researching the medium, which indicates a huge level of bias or ignorance or just unfound hatred of the videogaming crowd.

        In the actual article he says he thinks game mechanics break any claim to art, at least at present and for the the foreseeable future. I think the direct quote is "Games have never been art". I vaguely agree with what he's saying depending on your definition of art, except art is such an ill-defined, subjective term anyway I think the whole debate is stupid. Me personally: I think that Shadow of the Colossus is interactive art, not a game, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to share that view.

          Exactly, Thom, its all in the eye of the beholder! Take music, for instance. I like Tool, my brother says it sounds like banging pots and pans together.
        Yup, he said it ages ago. Maybe it's just not possible for someone so far along in their career to appreciate games like us folk.

        Or maybe "we" don't know what art "is".

    Ebert may be an idiot for hating video games but you can't deny that man knows how to review a movie.

    For a guy with no bottom jaw, he bloody talks alot.

    Let him play journey. That might change his mind

    Dude picked a bad example to argue against video games being art. Dark Souls was easily the best example of artistry in a video game in 2011.

    It's a shame he doesn't try to research more about video games. We wouldn't give a shit about Ebert's opinion if we didn't love his movie reviews so much.

    Um... what's his point?

    That since a person can dislike a game that another loves, then.....

    ...I'm sorry, I have no idea what his point is.

    Oh man, that's a Troll statement if ever I saw one.

    Why does he play games, if he hates them so much?

    Aha you made a funny, Ebert! I hope you realise that the point of playing Dark Souls is to have a "Soul Deadening" experience.

    This person read an Ebert tweet and found it a "non-event" experience.

    Do all those wondering - Ebert doesn't play games much. He's actually referring to Michael Thomsons article. The URL at the end of the tweet links to it.

    Video-games are 100hr soul-deadening exercises in torture, because you played Dark Souls? Dude.

    That's like saying sex is painful and humiliating and not worth anyone's time because your introduction to it was as a gimp in some hardcore BDSM.

    How the hell is a sado-masochistic title (widely regarded as 'too hard' even by the most hardcore gamer and only playable on consoles) 'game of the year'? Hello, Skyrim? Talk about setting up a straw man.

    I found 'Tree of Life' pretty numbing, yet he gave it full marks.
    Maybe videogame critics aren't allowed to have differences of opinion, unlike film critics. Oh wait.

    I wish people would pay a little bit more attention to the written article...

    So a film critic doesn't like videogames, why should we care?

    It's like a horticulturist being upset that an architect doesn't like plants.

    He's allowed to have his opinion. We all want to get defensive because we love videogames and it seems like he's bashing them publicly, but if anything it would be our backlash that pushes him to voice his opinion even more.

    While I'll listen to what he has to say and admit that he has a right to say it, I'd still rather spend my time reading opinions that are more in line with my own:

      (that said....he's still a bit of a trolling douchebag)

    "To the question, ‘Is the cinema an art?’ my answer is, ‘what does it matter?’… You can make films or you can cultivate a garden. Both have as much claim to being called an art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix… Art is ‘making’." ~ Jean Renoir

    Ehh it's kinda fair enough of him - Dark Souls seems a little crazy. That said, who ere would watch that movie that Warhol made (It's called Empire, just remembered) which was 24 hours or so of static footage of the Empire State Building. Masochistic - that's what it is. Anyway, poor ol' Ebert, his health is pretty fucked.

    Rather get kicked in the balls then play dark souls

      Dark Souls DID kick me in the balls. Then it drank milk from the carton in my fridge, and took a dump in my shoes.

    I think there is a disconnect between Passive and Active entertainment for many people. For TV and Movies you generally only ever participate mentally and emotionally, while in games you're doing all you would in a movie experience but also drive the action and narrative yourself (with some aggression and competitive drive thrown in).

    Ebert in particular does have issue with the frivolity of games. You can't deny that most of what happens in a game is repetitive and pointless to even the fake established goal, exploiting the - "Press button for Cheese" part of our brains and offering nothing substantial, merely intrinsic (as gamers we know the best ones balance all the required aspects well). Films have the same frivolity but last 2 hours and everyone but the Deaf and Blind can enjoy even the bad ones. A skilless endevour that takes little effort but rewards quite a lot.

    It's kind of amusing that most of us probably assumed he meant Skyrim. It would even be kind of justifiable with Skyrim. Skyrim is a game which has addictive qualities to keep people trapped in through really, really, really, really repetitive gameplay.

    But who ever called Dark Souls GOTY except total masochists? What a game to play for 100 hours when you aren't already an expert gamer. Yeesh.

    Someone tell him to go play Portal 2 for 20 hours.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now