Anyone else suddenly "Get" Roger Ebert's opinion?

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So, I saw that Limbo had been released the other day and against my better (cheapskate) judgement, I bought it. As I played it I realized something. Roger Ebert was right. Or at least, he wasn't nearly as wrong as I thought he was. I'm going to end this on a good note so bear with me. I haven't abandoned the "games are art" cause just yet.

Firstly I'd like to say that I am not applying this to all games. It's just that Limbo, possibly the most "artistic" game to come out recently, was exactly the kind of non-art he was talking about. The reason? I beat the game and that was it. Not only that, I knew I was going to beat it from the very beginning. As sure as a movie has an ending, it would be literally impossible not to beat Limbo if I kept playing. I thought he was just being ignorant when he said they weren't art because "Games are something you win." But now I've got to say he's got a good point.

I know this is true of most games, but for some reason this realization sucked all of the tension out of the Limbo for me. Every time I died and respawned barely three steps back I became more discouraged. Why should I care about this character if he can't die? Why should I care about his sister? Why should I care about any of it? Ohh, look it's all pretty and creepy and yes its kind of funny impaling him on some random object again and again until I complete the task. But that's not art. That's crossword puzzle or a lego project. All it takes is time.

Then I booted up the SC2 campaign. Same reaction. Everyone in the story seemed soooo impressed that Raynor and his crew could triumph over all those impossible odds. Not me, I knew he could do it. What kind of game would it be if the missions were un-beatable? And if I lost, I could just try again.

This was simply me realizing that I was not fighting the cause I thought I was by tooting the games=art horn. But it also made me realize something else. I still think they are art. But trying to put them in the same art category as movies is a mistake. I wouldn't argue that they are their own category of art either. That just alienates them from the rest of society even more than they already are. So what kind of art are they?

Well, with all the work that is put into making them look nice I'd say they belong more in the paintings category. A painting can generate emotion in a purely visual fashion the same way video games are now attempting to do. There's no real need for plot. Often with games it's just there to make sense out of what it's showing you. Until the writing in video games gets better (as it's starting to do I hope) that's the kind of art I'd describe them as. At least for now.

As for Roger Ebert, I think the gaming community owes him an apology. He was definitely on to something and unless we all realize it games aren't going to get any better.

EDIT: For those who won't bother reading further into the thread.

These were basically the responses I expected. And I don't really disagree with them. They all state true facts and are perfectly logical from the perspective of a gamer. As a gamer myself I entirely agree. But I also believe a shift in perspective is necessary.

Here's where I think the misunderstanding comes from the gamers side. Games have lots of art in them so they must be art right? Not necessarily. The core of a game for the most part is still just that; a game. It just looks really nice. Other mediums have their own methods and techniques to produce emotion. Games have just copied them. All the creepy and fantastic moments you would define as art in a game are things you could find in a painting or a movie. Take a screenshot of a game and you see art all over the place. But is the game itself art? Isn't it just a bunch of mechanics with art plastered all over it? Maybe for now. Gaming hasn't developed into it's own specific niche art-wise yet. But it's starting to.

Here's where the argument is right now at it's core as I see it.

Ebert: "Games are something you win. Hence, not art."
Gamers: "Just because it's something you win, doesn't mean it's not art." and "You haven't played games so we won't listen to you."

That second one is the most dangerous one. You have to understand him before you try to make him understand you. Otherwise this won't go anywhere but circles because neither side really understands the point the other is making.

I'll reiterate. This

Mackheath:

Jumplion:

is entirely the wrong attitude to take.

While I agree with the gamer side of the argument, I believe it's important to look deeply into Ebert's side in order to better understand what kind of art games actually are. It was this Clive Barker quote in Ebert's semi-apology that got me thinking.

"I think that Roger Ebert's problem is that he thinks you can't have art if there is that amount of malleability in the narrative. In other words, Shakespeare could not have written 'Romeo and Juliet' as a game because it could have had a happy ending, you know? If only she hadn't taken the damn poison. If only he'd have gotten there quicker."

"You can lose a game." or "What happens to the characters is up to you" are not valid points at all.

However, what are valid points are these. "Games are not games anymore. They are experiences." and "Art is something purposefully created to induce an emotion. Hence games=art."

But these points are just the beginning of our understanding of the medium as an art form. This supports arguments that have been made before that games are art in it's infancy. Games like SotC and Bioshock are glimpses into what Ebert believes is art. But until games like that are more common I don't think or want him to change his opinion.

Its called the willing suspension of disbeleif. In order to truelly immerse yourself in art, you sometimes have to "forget" things. A good game/film will make you do this. A bad one won't. The critiscism that "the good guys will always win can be easily applied to films aswell.

Also, why isn't gaming its own style of art? Some of my favourite games I hold as art (e.g Silent Hill 2) cannot be compared to any other art form.

You're just looking at the wrong game. Look at Echochrome instead. Yeah there's no concern that you won't finish the game, but the point is to be playing with perspective. It's MC Escher in a new medium, and that's a game that was really art first and game second.

You've also got Final Fantasy X - yes you play through it, but like you know you can try again in FFX if you die, you know in any movie the protagonists will make it through, so that's a completely moot point you're bringing up. FFX is an interactive movie with bonus content where you can control the fights. It's as much art as any movie is.

As for Limbo, the entire level design and imagery is art. I can't speak for the gameplay itself having only played the demo, but that's at least as much art as some of the random lumps of metal.

Typhusoid:
Its called the willing suspension of disbeleif. In order to truelly immerse yourself in art, you sometimes have to "forget" things. A good game/film will make you do this. A bad one won't. The critiscism that "the good guys will always win can be easily applied to films aswell.

Also, why isn't gaming its own style of art? Some of my favourite games I hold as art (e.g Silent Hill 2) cannot be compared to any other art form.

Willing suspension of disbelief is just plain ignorance. A blissful poison. It should either be unnecessary like in Shadow of the Colossus or openly defied like in Bayonetta.

migo:
You're just looking at the wrong game. Look at Echochrome instead. Yeah there's no concern that you won't finish the game, but the point is to be playing with perspective. It's MC Escher in a new medium, and that's a game that was really art first and game second.

You've also got Final Fantasy X - yes you play through it, but like you know you can try again in FFX if you die, you know in any movie the protagonists will make it through, so that's a completely moot point you're bringing up. FFX is an interactive movie with bonus content where you can control the fights. It's as much art as any movie is.

As for Limbo, the entire level design and imagery is art. I can't speak for the gameplay itself having only played the demo, but that's at least as much art as some of the random lumps of metal.

Did you read the whole post? That's the kind of visual art I consider games to be.

This again?

Okay, lets look and see:

Silk_Sk:
I beat the game and that was it. Not only that, I knew I was going to beat it from the very beginning. (...) I know this is true of most games, but for some reason this realization sucked all of the tension out of the Limbo for me. Every time I died and respawned barely three steps back I became more discouraged.

Play more old school "lives" system games. There's no guaranteed victory there. I used to EASILY be able to beat Contra, Megaman, TMNT and other games that are extremely difficult by today's puny standards. Even Demon's Souls is nowhere near as difficult as old school games. Yes, games have gotten easier, but what does that have to do with it being an artform?

Note: I can't beat them anymore. My skills are rusty with save points and unlimited lives.

Silk_Sk:
But trying to put them in the same art category as movies is a mistake. I wouldn't argue that they are their own category of art either.

But isn't any artform seperate from one another? A Painting is not the same as a musical piece, or a movie, or an installation... They all share the same common factor that they induce an emotional response, though... much like games do.

Note: We can all look back on the Aerith example to see a strong emotional response invoked by a video game.

Ebert gets no apologies for being ignorant.

Okay, first, the whole idea of something not being art because you "win it" is odd. Movies shouldn't be art because they end, yet Ebert believes there are movies that are art. A painting can't be art because it can be contained in a museum. Choosing a random reason something can't be art isn't a particularly strong argument.

The second problem with your statement is that you base it on your reaction to the game Limbo. Not everyone is affected the same way by art. Art by it's very nature is subjective.

Take Jackson Pollack for example. I look at his stuff and think, "Dude spilled his paint on his canvas, thought it looked cool, did it some more." But some people look at Pollack and say, "Look at the incredible amount of emotion in this painting!"

Just because you, or Ebert if he every actually did, played a game and decided it wasn't art, doesn't mean it isn't. Just because I play a game and decide it is art, doesn't mean it is. Over the years, "art" has been defined by culture as a whole. One man's opinion doesn't make something art to the whole world, it just makes something art to that one man.

So whether or not you think Limbo is art doesn't really support Ebert's opinion. It supports your opinion. Just because Ebert doesn't think something is art, that doesn't support your opinion. Art is in the eye of the beholder, to use a cliché phrase.

Over time, what culture as a whole considers art changes dramatically. Shakespeare is considered a master playwright now, one of the great Western artists, but when he was alive, his plays were considered, by certain influential people, as trashy works of populist sentiment. He was disregarded by elite commentators like Ben Jonson. Not so unlike the way commentators like Ebert scoff at certain things today.

Many artists were failures while they were alive. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh only gained fame after they died and people looked at their works in retrospect. Many artists are disregarded if they have a style that is before their time.

Whether or not video games will be defined as art by society as whole is not something I am interested in predicting. I play games because I like playing them, whether or not they are art. Something doesn't have to be described as art by society as a whole for me to enjoy it as such.

Silk_Sk:
As sure as a movie has an ending, it would be literally impossible not to beat Limbo if I kept playing. I thought he was just being ignorant when he said they weren't art because "Games are something you win." But now I've got to say he's got a good point.

I feel like you're just looking at it in the same wrong way. Games are not something you win, because if that's the kind of game you were looking at, you would look at the Gears of War multiplayer.

This argument might be applied to anything, really. "I'm going to get to the end of this book no matter what, so why even turn the page?" "Nothing I do will affect the outcome of this film, so can it really be art?"

In the end the question is essentially silly because if games are art or not doesn't matter. Who cares if films suddenly stopped being classified as "art"? We'll still go see them and love them and write about them. This argument is silly.

But you do make another point, I think, accidentally. Are games something you win? Or are they something you experience? And that has been changing toward the latter I would say.

Put a contemporary arty game up to, say, Castlevania. Now I don't think anyone will argue with me when I say that Castlevania was your opponent. The game wants you to die and you want to NOT die. You win Castlevania by "beating" the game.

But in, say, Braid, in my experience at least, people tend to say they "got to the end." or they "Finished" it. Like a book. Or a movie. Put THAT in your brain and think it.

tl;dr - Who cares if games are art? / You and Ebert are both wrong about what games are for / The interesting question is "Are games something you win?" / I don't think they are anymore.

Who cares if games are art? Games are the best entertainment there is.

Myself I don't use the word "art" for anything that isn't useless and hideously overpriced.

Just because something ends or has an average narrative doesn't mean it's not art. It's just not particularly good.

I don't agree with your argument on limbo. You're taking a game, condensing it too it's core gameplay elements and ignoring emotions. That's like saying reading is just moving your eyes to recognise words. You need to look past to the literal action to see the inferred meaning behind it.

In regards to your comment on SC2 I agree with you, but again I reach a different conclusion. If you fail a mission, the characters suffer the consequences while you are offered to try again. Raynor doesn't try the mission again when you fail, through the magic of gameplay mechanics you load a previous save - where failure has not happended- and this version retries the mission.

You try again, the characters don't. That's the entire point; you are able to go through a game without having to restart entirely the second you fail once.

The problem with Roger Ebert's opinion is that he's never played a video game in his life, much less the ones we consider "art".

He was juging Video Game's "art" merits among "Movie Art" merits, but that is downright impossible. While games that we consider "art" and movies people consider "art" do have some similarities (mainly evoking an emotion of some kind), the way the two mediums interact with their audience, how they reward them, how the audience participates with it, etc... are completely different.

This is why Ebert should have kept his mouth shut. As a movie critic, Ebert can certainly vouch for Movies as art. But his opinions are invalidadted when he starts talking about Video Games as art becase he's never played them. I'm not saying his opinion is worthless, or that it doesn't have merit, but it's like if Ice-T criticized Mozart's operas because "They dun have them jankiness to dem!", they're two different genres/mediums and you cannot compare them the same way.

I personally think that Video Games can be art, whether you can "win" them or not. I absolutely adored Shadow of the Collosus, I teared up at the end. And to an extent, Elite Beat Agents is "art" to me, though that explanation is left for another time I suppose. Movies always have to end, that doesn't invalidate their artistic merits. You can apply many tropes to video games that are used in movies, but it's very limited to which ones you can compare.

Uh, what?

No I don't suddenly 'get' Ebert's point because it was nonsensical to start with. And not just because he was applying the 'art' label to gamings. You are in fact falling into the same trap that he did, the trap that art can be defined, and that that definition stays continuous.

Films were once derided on the grounds that they would never be art. They would only be momentary distractions for people. The same was said of fictional books, paintings, sculptures. Anything which at the time was seen to have no purpose and is now revered as art. Ebert's opinion struck me as just not being very clever really, which disappointed me because I always thought he was a clever man.

'Art' is not something you can define. Art is something which is always in flux and change, and throughout the years has meant many things to many people and this will always be the case. Of course games are art, in exactly the same way that they are not art, in the same way that films are both art and not art.

Until Ebert (or anyone really) can offer me a definition of art that i accept as true and unarguable, I won't even begin to classify things as 'art' or not.

That's why he's wrong, not because he's misunderstood games, but because he was arrogant and stupid enough to misunderstand the very basis from which he was arguing.

I find it far more interesting that people actually give a shit if games are considered art. If you asked me I would straight out say no they arnt. But I dont give a shit either because I dont need to try and justify my hobby that I enjoy doing by saying its art. Those that do need to look at the bigger picture of why they are so insecure about their hobby.

And movies are things you watch. And paintings are things you look at.

I guess the fact that you interact with them in the way that you interact with them means that they aren't art.

As it has been said before, it IS subjective, and therefore each person must make the decision that something is art or not.

Books can be art but many books are not art to most people. You can say that Lord of the Rings is not art but you will probably have an entire sub-culture hating you (you would also be wrong). if books can be art based on their quality then why not games. Writers write books. Writers also write game plots and dialogue.

Paintings are art and nobody will fight you on that point (whether you made it or not) and you can probably compare a painting to the works of environment developers. they both create something that is used to express themselves or the world around them.

Music is another artistic industry that is central to our culture in this time. have you ever seen a movie or played a game that didn't have any music in it? neither have I. (silent movies don't count, and they usually had music too)

Finally movies. Oh yes, a reply to a thread about Ebert that involves a comparison of games to movies. games have cutscenes, plot-lines, characters and dialogue. So do movies.

The first definition of art according to thefreedictionary.com is: "1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature." have you ever seen a game that uses elements of nature or fill in the blanks as they will? yes you have if your game has a setting a focus or anything that is alive, or that seeks order.

Really the art argument is really old. stop making new threads about it.

(P.S. don't make a thread saying that games aren't art because you can "win". That doesn't make sense.)

Why are we so desperate to convince people video games are art?
I dont think theyre art. There, i said it.
Sheesh, i really dont care what they are, I just like playing them.
Isnt that what they're supposed to be used for? For playing and fun?

Silk_Sk:
snip

In addition to what's been said... Look at games like Mass Effect 2, where the fate of your crew DOES rest in your hands. There is no guarantee that they or you will survive, even if you do put in time to "beat" the game.

Cinnamonfloss:
Why are we so desperate to convince people video games are art?
I dont think theyre art. There, i said it.
Sheesh, i really dont care what they are, I just like playing them.
Isnt that what they're supposed to be used for? For playing and fun?

I know that you're just trying to restate that "Video games are fun, why bother with anything else?" and it's an innocent enough statement, but it's complete ignorance to put it bluntly.

Just because you play video games for "fun", like many other people including myself, does not mean that video games should just stay "fun". It's the same argument with movies, "If I wanted a dark drama with conflict I'd read a book!" and then goes to "If I wanted a realistic portrayal of today's society in satire, I'd watch a play!" and eventually down to "If I wanted a deep, intellectual viewpoint on the violence of men, I'd just talk with my professor!" You can't just brush off video games as just "fun" because they can be so much more than that.

Now, look, I love fun games, everyone does, you'd be one of those cinema snobs that doesn't like anything without a "meaning" or those stupid artistic bullshitters claiming that a picture with a woman with bannanas on her head is "pure artistic amazingness!". But video games have a huge amount of untapped potential just lying in wait for someone to utilize it correctly. And when that happens, that can in turn make games better and more fun and more meaningful instead of the same FPS that we are currently forced to endure now.

I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but Limbo just didn't seem like it had a soul for me

Oh, I understand Ebert's opinion fully. I see where he's coming from. And I honestly believe that it's simply rooted in a close-minded approach to a medium he hasn't even experienced himself(and no, playing bits and portions doesn't count).

I would gladly go on why, but a certain someone in this very forum is far more adept at it than I :P

Jumplion:

Cinnamonfloss:
Why are we so desperate to convince people video games are art?
I dont think theyre art. There, i said it.
Sheesh, i really dont care what they are, I just like playing them.
Isnt that what they're supposed to be used for? For playing and fun?

I know that you're just trying to restate that "Video games are fun, why bother with anything else?" and it's an innocent enough statement, but it's complete ignorance to put it bluntly.

Just because you play video games for "fun", like many other people including myself, does not mean that video games should just stay "fun". It's the same argument with movies, "If I wanted a dark drama with conflict I'd read a book!" and then goes to "If I wanted a realistic portrayal of today's society in satire, I'd watch a play!" and eventually down to "If I wanted a deep, intellectual viewpoint on the violence of men, I'd just talk with my professor!" You can't just brush off video games as just "fun" because they can be so much more than that.

Now, look, I love fun games, everyone does, you'd be one of those cinema snobs that doesn't like anything without a "meaning" or those stupid artistic bullshitters claiming that a picture with a woman with bannanas on her head is "pure artistic amazingness!". But video games have a huge amount of untapped potential just lying in wait for someone to utilize it correctly. And when that happens, that can in turn make games better and more fun and more meaningful instead of the same FPS that we are currently forced to endure now.

Just wanted to tip my hat off to you.
And offer you a cookie too ^_^

Art is in the eye of the beholder not some fat, washed up critic who couldn't tell a good movie if it kicked him in the teeth.

No. Art exists in video games. I think that you, along with the rest of the games industry, are looking in the wrong place. Whenever the topic of games as art comes up, people direct you to games like Bioshock, or Braid, or probably Limbo (I haven't played it). These games are artsy. This means they ape the superficialities of art in other media. It's fundamentally just shiny packaging. This doesn't mean that artsy games can't be art, but they quite often aren't. Art in videogames is generally buried deeper than just the graphic design and pompous narration. The substance of video game art is buried in its mechanics. STALKER: Call of Pripyat is an excellent example of this, but I've never heard anyone claim it to be art. I personally think it is.

Cinnamonfloss:
Why are we so desperate to convince people video games are art?
I dont think theyre art. There, i said it.
Sheesh, i really dont care what they are, I just like playing them.
Isnt that what they're supposed to be used for? For playing and fun?

I can't be bothered to type out the whole argument again, so I'm going to cheat and quote myself:

Well, I don't personally owe him an apology. I was on his side from the beginning. Video games just aren't Art, they have Artistic elements, but on a whole they aren't and will never be Art.

I agree with Ebert on some counts.

Video games sit somewhere between something akin to sport (not art), and narrative media such as films and literature (art). When closer to the former, i don't think that games are art. Football is not art. Chess is not art. Tetris is not art. A deathmatch on COD is not art.

However, when closer to the latter, videogames are without a doubt a work of art (imo). Citizen Kane is art. Bioshock is art.

Perhaps a little bit simplified, but i hope you understand what i'm getting at. Basically, Ebert's whole "game's aren't art because they are something you 'win'" thing isn't totally unjustified.

Jumplion:

Cinnamonfloss:
Why are we so desperate to convince people video games are art?
I dont think theyre art. There, i said it.
Sheesh, i really dont care what they are, I just like playing them.
Isnt that what they're supposed to be used for? For playing and fun?

I know that you're just trying to restate that "Video games are fun, why bother with anything else?" and it's an innocent enough statement, but it's complete ignorance to put it bluntly.

Just because you play video games for "fun", like many other people including myself, does not mean that video games should just stay "fun". It's the same argument with movies, "If I wanted a dark drama with conflict I'd read a book!" and then goes to "If I wanted a realistic portrayal of today's society in satire, I'd watch a play!" and eventually down to "If I wanted a deep, intellectual viewpoint on the violence of men, I'd just talk with my professor!" You can't just brush off video games as just "fun" because they can be so much more than that.

Now, look, I love fun games, everyone does, you'd be one of those cinema snobs that doesn't like anything without a "meaning" or those stupid artistic bullshitters claiming that a picture with a woman with bannanas on her head is "pure artistic amazingness!". But video games have a huge amount of untapped potential just lying in wait for someone to utilize it correctly. And when that happens, that can in turn make games better and more fun and more meaningful instead of the same FPS that we are currently forced to endure now.

First of all: no. You've got me all wrong. Calm down. Just because you're somehow deeply offended by my own opinion doesnt give you the right to pull out lies out your butt.
Did i mention anything along the lines that 'video games arent art because they dont have meaning?'
No.
Stop twisting my words and raging, seriously. I can see how angry you are just reading that. It just made me roll my eyes to be perfectly honest.
You've got it all wrong.
Im not saying video games 'arent meaningful'. Im not 'brushing away games as fun'. Im not a 'movie snob' or one of 'those stupid artistic bullshitters'.
Come on, really? If i was, why would i be on a video game forum? Dont be so paranoid.
Whats wrong with video games not being art? You seem to have a problem with that. I just dont understand it. Video games can be a whole media of their own.
You shouldnt bother replying because nothing will change my OPINION.
Youre making me out as some kind of 'anti video games'. Just stop, seriously. ¬¬

Art is subject to the eye of the beholder. It will say different things to different people. And Lego can be art too!

tellmeimaninja:
And movies are things you watch. And paintings are things you look at.

I guess the fact that you interact with them in the way that you interact with them means that they aren't art.

I would disagree. This was one of Ebert's first arguments, but it's a very anti-progressive one. In other words, "art has never been interactive before, so it can't be interactive now." Since interactivity has not been part of the definition of art in the past, it's assumed it can't be part of it now, but this is not true. Every form of art we have now was once considered not to be art. Even the novel was looked down upon for a time. Simply because interactivity has never been part of art doesn't mean it can't be now: art changes, it evolves as the culture and technology does. If this was not true, Ebert's own precious art of film would not be art.

OT: I see what you're saying, OP. But I also disagree. You even said it yourself, movies end too. But that's beside the point.

The very presence of a story means that video games can also be put in the category of storytelling art: bad writing doesn't disqualify something as art, it simply qualifies it as bad art. To say something's not art because it's not written well is basically to say that unless something is quality, it's not art. And that's just not true.

Beyond that though, many games have been written very, very well. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Mass Effect games, and many more have had writing on par with some of the greatest films out there. Sure, the writing in games generally sucks, but I have news for you: it generally sucks in every other art form too. It's a matter of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crud. Most movies suck, most novels suck, and most video games suck.

Now it is true that video games can be used for reasons other than storytelling: some games are made for competitive purposes, and many are made just for fun. Just like movies have training videos and documentaries, and literature includes technical documents and political propositions: hardly art, but still involving artistic aspects of the form which they use. But it doesn't disqualify the medium as a whole from being a storytelling art, it simply means that some games will include different aspects of that art, whether it's only the visual aspects or also the storytelling ones. But the need for context, the need for a story in our games definitely brings it into the realm of storytelling art.

Or is there something I'm missing about what you said?

If a photograph of a turd in a field can be considered art,and some people would consider it believe it or not, then anything can be.

Oh, I 'get' his opinion. I just don't agree with it in the slightest. Also, when you have the word 'opinion' in the headline, it kind of makes your whole argument defunct. But time to elaborate on my own feelings..

I haven't played Starcraft 2, so I'll just limit my opinion to Limbo here.

Can you really say you've won anything by completing Limbo, or most modern games? Limbo has a conclusion, and it ends, much as a movie does. You don't get any showering of virtual 'points', the game comes to a stop. Sure, the experience is interactive and you control the character through the story, but that doesn't make it any less of a story, nor dos it make it any less of an experience. If Limbo had been released as just a playthrough of a run through the game, disguised as a film, would you dub it as art then?

The only difference nowadays with modern gaming stories and film is that they're a different medium, a more interactive one. They have conclusions, arcs, and like films they are a form of entertainment, whether that entertainment lies in explosions or a deeper probe into morals, messages and themes. Most games will always lie on the 'gameplay' side of things rather than the story side of things, but that doesn't mean their just a base form of entertainment where the sole goal is to collect points. That thinking died out with the Playstation, if not earlier.

In the end though, art is subjective. I feel what makes art is themes and emotion, which more than a few games provide, just as many books and many movies do.

Movies can only be watched and interpretted. No matter what you do or say, it has an ending to it. The end MAY make you think more (see Inception) or challenge an important issue, but it has a beggining and an end.

The difference? All that time in between, instead of it being an actor, its us (controlling the actor). Just like a movie, games can make us think after we beat the ending, inspire us, or just entertain us. In a movie, the goal is what the actors want to achieve. In a game, its US.

Everything is an art. Art ranges from Finger Paintings, To the Mona Lisa. And EVERYTHING in between. You get a lot more FInger Paintings then Mona Lisas, but they exist.

As for removing all tension, I disagree. Lets look at Pokemon. Final Battle of the Elite 4, all out of Revives and Potions. 30 Hp left for you, 140 for the opponent. The next move could decide this battle. Sure, if I fail, I have to restart, but its STILL a tense moment. Same for a lot of games. Just because you WIN doesnt mean anything.

To put it into movie terms, a Game is like a Movie, except the director doesnt get to cut out the mistakes for the final version.

That of course, is a very small paragraph of what I mean. I COULD wright a paper on this damn thing. In fact, it probably should.

Honestly, I've never really bought the whole "video games are art" thing. I don't think movies are art either. They are entertainment. Art is something that invokes a particular emotional response in a passive observer. That's what i think. for me, music is really the only form of entertainment that qualifies as art.

meganmeave:
Okay, first, the whole idea of something not being art because you "win it" is odd. Movies shouldn't be art because they end, yet Ebert believes there are movies that are art. A painting can't be art because it can be contained in a museum. Choosing a random reason something can't be art isn't a particularly strong argument.

The second problem with your statement is that you base it on your reaction to the game Limbo. Not everyone is affected the same way by art. Art by it's very nature is subjective.

Take Jackson Pollack for example. I look at his stuff and think, "Dude spilled his paint on his canvas, thought it looked cool, did it some more." But some people look at Pollack and say, "Look at the incredible amount of emotion in this painting!"

Just because you, or Ebert if he every actually did, played a game and decided it wasn't art, doesn't mean it isn't. Just because I play a game and decide it is art, doesn't mean it is. Over the years, "art" has been defined by culture as a whole. One man's opinion doesn't make something art to the whole world, it just makes something art to that one man.

So whether or not you think Limbo is art doesn't really support Ebert's opinion. It supports your opinion. Just because Ebert doesn't think something is art, that doesn't support your opinion. Art is in the eye of the beholder, to use a cliché phrase.

Over time, what culture as a whole considers art changes dramatically. Shakespeare is considered a master playwright now, one of the great Western artists, but when he was alive, his plays were considered, by certain influential people, as trashy works of populist sentiment. He was disregarded by elite commentators like Ben Jonson. Not so unlike the way commentators like Ebert scoff at certain things today.

Many artists were failures while they were alive. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh only gained fame after they died and people looked at their works in retrospect. Many artists are disregarded if they have a style that is before their time.

Whether or not video games will be defined as art by society as whole is not something I am interested in predicting. I play games because I like playing them, whether or not they are art. Something doesn't have to be described as art by society as a whole for me to enjoy it as such.

This man gets an internet cookie

Thaius:

tellmeimaninja:
And movies are things you watch. And paintings are things you look at.

I guess the fact that you interact with them in the way that you interact with them means that they aren't art.

I would disagree. This was one of Ebert's first arguments, but it's a very anti-progressive one. In other words, "art has never been interactive before, so it can't be interactive now." Since interactivity has not been part of the definition of art in the past, it's assumed it can't be part of it now, but this is not true. Every form of art we have now was once considered not to be art. Even the novel was looked down upon for a time. Simply because interactivity has never been part of art doesn't mean it can't be now: art changes, it evolves as the culture and technology does. If this was not true, Ebert's own precious art of film would not be art.

OT: I see what you're saying, OP. But I also disagree. You even said it yourself, movies end too. But that's beside the point.

The very presence of a story means that video games can also be put in the category of storytelling art: bad writing doesn't disqualify something as art, it simply qualifies it as bad art. To say something's not art because it's not written well is basically to say that unless something is quality, it's not art. And that's just not true.

Beyond that though, many games have been written very, very well. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Mass Effect games, and many more have had writing on par with some of the greatest films out there. Sure, the writing in games generally sucks, but I have news for you: it generally sucks in every other art form too. It's a matter of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crud. Most movies suck, most novels suck, and most video games suck.

Now it is true that video games can be used for reasons other than storytelling: some games are made for competitive purposes, and many are made just for fun. Just like movies have training videos and documentaries, and literature includes technical documents and political propositions: hardly art, but still involving artistic aspects of the form which they use. But it doesn't disqualify the medium as a whole from being a storytelling art, it simply means that some games will include different aspects of that art, whether it's only the visual aspects or also the storytelling ones. But the need for context, the need for a story in our games definitely brings it into the realm of storytelling art.

Or is there something I'm missing about what you said?

Hey man what took you so long to get involved? I was expecting you here sooner! Son, I am very disappoint. ;-P

Scobie:

I tip my hat off to you too and gift you a cookie jar. So sick and tired of the 'want to justify your hobby to yourself or make yourself feel special and smart' crap forked out so often...

honestly I don't care about whether or not gaming is art and I care even less about Ebert's opinions (his movie reviews? please, retirement called decades ago)

1. the gaming community doesn't owe him an apology, and he doesn't need to say anymore about it either
2. everything is art nowadays...

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