Esteemed US film critic Roger Ebert has backed down - tail between his legs - on his recent argument against games as art.
Ebert begins a lengthy blog post
by stating, quite simply, "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."
Following the original post, titled
'Video games can never be art', 4,549 comments have now been posted. Ebert was told by reader Wayne Hepner, who turned the comments into a text file, "It's more than Anna Karenina, David Copperfield and The Brothers Karamazov."
Ebert noted that "They are mostly intelligent, well-written, and right about one thing in particular:
"I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games." That's the crux of it, right there.
Ebert expands by saying, "My error in the first place was to think I could make a convincing argument on purely theoretical grounds. 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 was criticised by some for not responding to the comments, to which he said, "The entry had expressed everything I had to say without going to the extreme
of actually playing a game." (Our bolding). Wait, sorry? Playing a game's an extreme
when arguing about their merits as art? Seriously?
, you have to agree with Ebert when he says, "I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place."
Still, hats off to Ebert for 'fessing up that he was wrong to weigh in on games' merit as art in the first place, even if he couldn't be arsed to go so far as actually playing a game...
Feel free to express your anger at Ebert in the comments below. Or, if you're feeling a bit zen you could just take industry veteran Charles Cecil's point of view. He told SPOnG
, "I don't care in the least whether people think games are art or not."