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Op Ed

Thanks Joker961.

Roger Ebert's Journal - Video games can never be art.
Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art? Bobby Fischer, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus never said they thought their games were an art form. Nor did Shi Hua Chen, winner of the $500,000 World Series of Mah Jong in 2009. Why aren't gamers content to play their games and simply enjoy themselves? They have my blessing, not that they care.

Do they require validation? In defending their gaming against parents, spouses, children, partners, co-workers or other critics, do they want to be able to look up from the screen and explain, "I'm studying a great form of art?" Then let them say it, if it makes them happy.

Gamasutra - A Critical Retort to Roger Ebert on Games as Art.
Yes Mister Ebert, you cannot win a film. But why would it be logical to follow by saying that since a film cannot be won you can only experience it, implying that you can only win and not experience a videogame? Mister Ebert, a videogame allows both, by virtue of its existence as a thing to be played. You cannot win without first experiencing, or else you have not been playing, and if you have not been playing then, well, you have just been watching.

Platform Nation - Ebert Is Right… For Now.
Right now, videogames can be projected to move into a state where they will mirror films creatively and financially. You’ll start to see a trend of fewer games coming out, fewer publishers taking risks, large game budgets. The independent studies will not get their say, they will be weeded out. Call of Duty, Halo, Gears; they could be just the fewer games we get. Casual gaming can’t save us. Lets guess around 100 games come out every year, and around 40 mainstream films come out every year. The number of games is going to just go downhill given the trend, and the independent studio will be at risk of failing.

Attack of the Fanboy - Does anyone really care about 3-D?
There are two types of product innovation – one that takes something that already exists and improves it, and the that other invents a technology and tries to find uses for it. James Cameron spent ten years developing a camera that could create the film he had wanted to make for years. Samsung and LG developed 3-D televisions because people seemed to like Avatar. Hmm.

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46 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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46. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 17:14 MattyC
 
Kudos to Ebert for bring out the nerd ragers.  
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45. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 17:09 WyldKat
 
Flatline I couldn't agree more, that was an excellent post my friend.  
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44. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 15:15 Flatline
 
Veterator wrote on Apr 18, 2010, 23:36:
If it's created for profit is it art? At first answer I'd say no...because it almost becomes manufacturing then. Although a lot of what is held as prominent examples of art today were created for pay. It's just more convenient to assume they would have went on to make it even if there was no money involved.

Exactly. In fact, nearly everything that we consider religious art was contracted and paid for, and for hundreds and hundreds of years, art *was* a business.

Great composers generally didn't just "compose", they were contracted to write pieces too.

With the exception of maybe poetry, I can't really think of any art form that doesn't have a significant profit motivator attached to it.

Also, I generally enjoy reading Roger Ebert, what he has to say generally has some merit, but what he is essentially saying is that games can't be art because A) They can be won and B) They adhere to rules.

But here's the problem. Single player games are "won" in the sense that you come to the end of the story. This is conceptually no different from reaching the end of a movie or the end of a book. You've reached the end of a narrative. This is a conceptually flawed argument of his.

Second, he complains that video games adhere to rules. This is bunk. Movies establish their own system of rules internally (much like video games) and the best movies adhere to these rules, or break them very intentionally.

Why did the Matrix sequels suck? Among other reasons, they sucked because they completely glossed over the rules established in the first film. Why does Casablanca work so well? Because Rick breaks his rules at one point, for one specific reason. He sacrifices. Otherwise, the rules are consistent.

Would Schindler's List be as moving as it is if ninjas swarmed the screen in the final act and killed all the bad guys and saved all the Jews? That's not adhering to rules, but that wouldn't make the movie any more a form of art.

The problem with Ebert is that he says over and over that art is subjective, and then he projects his viewpoint onto the rest of the world that nobody will find video games to be art. In doing so, he may break his own rules, but he neither manages to be significant, nor artistic about it.
 
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43. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 07:25 dryden555
 
Ebert doesnt know much about established notions of art sadly.. There's a whole area of art generally catagorized as "art as play" and no one in the established art world will say those works arent art. Ebert would have to tackle that in his argument to succeed, but he doesnt. The argument has other glaring flaws as well. Ebert was ill advised to write that article.  
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42. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 04:38 zirik
 
She begins by saying video games "already ARE art." Yet she concedes that I was correct when I wrote, "No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets." To which I could have added painters, composers, and so on, but my point is clear.

Do they require validation? In defending their gaming against parents, spouses, children, partners, co-workers or other critics, do they want to be able to look up from the screen and explain, "I'm studying a great form of art?" Then let them say it, if it makes them happy.

i think ebert is saying that video games cannot be compared to and classified as great works of art in the same category as a michael angelo or a da vinci. in that regard i agree with him. he already mentions near the end of his article but is simply ignored by his critics because of his lack of consistency in using it throughout his argument.

This comment was edited on Apr 19, 2010, 05:13.
 
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41. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 02:39 jdreyer
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2010, 00:36:
I don't factor interactivity in it at all. To me that adds to the art.


My biggest complaint would be the technology degradation. Bullit stands up decades later. The Mona Lisa stands up centuries later. The Illiad stands up several millenia later. Syndicate makes my eyes bleed 15 years later.

Does that prevent it from being art? To me, yes, in many ways. It's artistic, but no one is going to be playing anything we've created 2000 years from now. Doesn't mean they don't have artistic merit, aren't awesome, and shouldn't be loved.

Actually, I think the first Syndicate is quite artistic, both the game world and the UI. It's obvious they are going for a tech-noir look, and I think it still holds up today. And the gameplay was awesome.

Syndicate Wars (the 3D one) was pretty damn ugly though.

Lots of old games done with old technology that have good art design hold up. Look at Ultima Online, or even Ultima V. Consider games like Dungeon Keeper (incidentally another Bullfrog game) or StarCraft or WarCraft II or Fallout or Quake II. I think the games that don't hold up are the ones that went for 3D realism before computers could handle it. Games like F15 Strike Eagle or F19 Stealth Fighter, which had great gameplay are just distractingly ugly when you revisit them.

I heard a rumor they're redoing Syndicate. I hope they do. I can't wait.

This comment was edited on Apr 19, 2010, 02:46.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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40. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 02:34 Silicon Avatar
 
You guys that are making fun of Mr. Ebert's cancer aren't funny.

 
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39. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 02:25 jdreyer
 
space captain wrote on Apr 18, 2010, 23:24:
isnt it funny how he's this big critic, and then he gets throat cancer? they cut his lower jaw off and everything

Rotfl

Space Captian: please do something useful like cut off all of your fingers with a spoon. Thanks.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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38. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 02:20 jdreyer
 
Veterator wrote on Apr 18, 2010, 23:36:
If ten people create something.....is it art? Harder to answer.

If a hundred people create something...is it art? Architecture might be the only thing here that would fall under that, but the name credited with the work would be the architect.

If it's created for profit is it art? At first answer I'd say no...because it almost becomes manufacturing then. Although a lot of what is held as prominent examples of art today were created for pay. It's just more convenient to assume they would have went on to make it even if there was no money involved.

The first part is especially rich for Ebert to claim that "I consider art to be the creation of one artist" having built a career on movie reviewing and considering movies art. Movies are a collaborative art involving hundreds of people and even is more collaborative than even something like architecture. Many (most?) participants can have an effect on the final outcome: the director is the main guide, but actors, set designers, costume designers, prop designers, sound engineers, lighting engineers, and cinematographers all have an effect on the final product.

If it's created for profit, is it art? Some of the greatest works in history have been commissioned works: Michaelangelo's statue of David and the Sistine Chapel paintings were commissioned, as were most of Mozart's symphonies. It is telling, however, that some of the more artistic games like World of Goo or PB Winterbottom come from independent developers instead of the commercial studios. But the source of the funding is irrelevant. It's the final product that makes it art.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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37. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 02:19 Kxmode
 
NKD wrote on Apr 19, 2010, 01:51:
Surf wrote on Apr 19, 2010, 01:30:
"Ebert needs a major dose of shut-the-fuck-up as of late."

I think he was typing all this. Last I checked, cancer took care of his mouth.

Hallelujah!

Good point. Maybe his computer can get cancer next.

Wow. That was just mean.
 
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36. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 01:58 jdreyer
 
Eberts "problem" is that he has never played games. What's the difference between watching a movie like Saving Private Ryan and playing the single player Campaign from Modern Warfare 2? The interactivity is the only difference. The rest is there: the characters, the plot, the action, the sets, etc. Modern games are an artistic endeavor. Look at PB Winterbottom or World of Goo. Games, yes, but art too.

Perhaps for some, "game" is the wrong word. Peggle is a game. Dragon Age, Heavy Rain, and Mass Effect 2 are interactive stories. They don't have traditional game tropes like points and high scores. In the single player, you're not competing against other humans in a win/lose scenario. Yes, you can die if your party or character gets killed, but it's up to the player to decide if the story ends there, or if the want to go back and explore other paths. That's the interactivity part, but it's still a story with a narrative and in that respect no different from a movie.

I love reading Ebert's writing. He is truly a gifted critic. But on this I think his opinion is uninformed.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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35. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 01:51 NKD
 
Surf wrote on Apr 19, 2010, 01:30:
"Ebert needs a major dose of shut-the-fuck-up as of late."

I think he was typing all this. Last I checked, cancer took care of his mouth.

Hallelujah!

Good point. Maybe his computer can get cancer next.
 
Avatar 43041
 
If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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34. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 01:30 Surf
 
"Ebert needs a major dose of shut-the-fuck-up as of late."

I think he was typing all this. Last I checked, cancer took care of his mouth.

Hallelujah!
 
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33. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 00:57 Prez
 
I don't factor interactivity in it at all. To me that adds to the art.

That's because you define art differently than Roger Ebert. His primary sticking point with games as art was that they need an end user to complete the experience, whereas true art is in and of itself a complete experience, at least to him.

Me, I see validity on both sides of the argument. So I choose not to take a side.

My biggest complaint would be the technology degradation. Bullit stands up decades later. The Mona Lisa stands up centuries later. The Illiad stands up several millenia later. Syndicate makes my eyes bleed 15 years later.

Ah, but doesn't one need to separate the art from the tech? "Mighty Joe Young" and "King Kong" (Original versions) have what can only be considered laughable effects by today's standards, but does that mean that they are not art? In the case of Syndicate, is the "art" of it simply what you see, or the very concept of it? "Avatar" has tech that is oceans beyond that of "Star Wars, A New Hope", but in my book Avatar still doesn't hold a candle to it nonetheless.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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32. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 00:36 Beamer
 
I don't factor interactivity in it at all. To me that adds to the art.


My biggest complaint would be the technology degradation. Bullit stands up decades later. The Mona Lisa stands up centuries later. The Illiad stands up several millenia later. Syndicate makes my eyes bleed 15 years later.

Does that prevent it from being art? To me, yes, in many ways. It's artistic, but no one is going to be playing anything we've created 2000 years from now. Doesn't mean they don't have artistic merit, aren't awesome, and shouldn't be loved.
 
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http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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31. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 00:23 PHJF
 
Exactly, anything man-made has the potential to be classified as art. Including manufacturing. Do you ever stop and appreciate how wonderfully designed some of our manufacturing machines are? Incredibly intricate machines expertly designed to produce and assemble at rates far beyond those which puny human hands can hope to approach (much to the dismay of Kurt Vonnegut). That's art. So to argue that a STORYTELLING MEDIUM (like, gasp, video games) isn't art is just... nonsensical.


I enjoy them for what they are, and when they grow up enough that the storytelling begins matching literary works for depth, emotional impact, and poignancy, I will be content to never read another book again. Hopefully it happens in my lifetime, as I'm not getting any younger.

Well look what happened when somebody (supposedly) attempted to do that with 6 Days in Fallujah, they got shut down for being so "insensitive." Mr. Ebert, like so many others, is under the impression that games are brainless, pointless diversions (and most of them are). But to dismiss or belittle games entirely because of that is idiotic. I go see my share of brainless, pointless movies (like Avatar) and you don't see me criticizing film itself as a brainless, pointless endeavor.

This comment was edited on Apr 19, 2010, 00:32.
 
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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30. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 00:18 Prez
 
The "is it art or not" debate usually comes down to the interactivity factor that games have that other mediums lack.

My favorite example of this was made right here on these boards, using the famous tragic character Hector from none other than Homer's 'The Illiad'. As a literary work, it is indisputably art. As a major motion picture, Troy, it may not be as poignant and meaningful, but it is still easily classified as art. A graphic novel adaptation would be considered art as well without too much bickering. But make the Illiad into a game, and things change.

The argument goes that Hector's role in the story was, for all intents and purposes, to die tragically. But in the confines of an interactive medium, for example one where you play as Hector, it is conceivable that the programmers could allow you to actually defeat Achilles in the infamous duel. This changes the art into a self-made experience, and in doing so, removes the "art" from the work, or so the logic goes.

While this definitely makes sense, personally, I don't care if games are art or not. I enjoy them for what they are, and when they grow up enough that the storytelling begins matching literary works for depth, emotional impact, and poignancy, I will be content to never read another book again. Hopefully it happens in my lifetime, as I'm not getting any younger. Disguise
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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29. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2010, 00:15 Beamer
 
Art is one of those things that is totally in the eyes of the beholder. I don't know about everyone else on here, but I've seen those paintings that looks like random blotches of paint on a canvas...and people rant and rave about how they've captured the *insert nonsensical explanation* and that makes it priceless. But it just so happens you can buy it for 10 grand, or whatever.

Next time you go to a museum bring someone that can explain it to you in a non-pompous way. Then try to emulate it yourself.

It might not change your view of whether it's art or not, but it will certainly open your eyes to how frickin' hard it can be to create.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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28. Re: Op Ed Apr 18, 2010, 23:41 Kxmode
 
Great post Veterator.  
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27. Re: Op Ed Apr 18, 2010, 23:36 Veterator
 
Art is one of those things that is totally in the eyes of the beholder. I don't know about everyone else on here, but I've seen those paintings that looks like random blotches of paint on a canvas...and people rant and rave about how they've captured the *insert nonsensical explanation* and that makes it priceless. But it just so happens you can buy it for 10 grand, or whatever.

If one person creates something...is it art? It just so happens that a lot of what is considered art has one name associated with it in most very prominent cases.

If ten people create something.....is it art? Harder to answer.

If a hundred people create something...is it art? Architecture might be the only thing here that would fall under that, but the name credited with the work would be the architect.

If it's created for profit is it art? At first answer I'd say no...because it almost becomes manufacturing then. Although a lot of what is held as prominent examples of art today were created for pay. It's just more convenient to assume they would have went on to make it even if there was no money involved.


Art is basically in the eye/ear of the beholder. And who can say that 100 years from now, our ancient PC games of today might be considered to be of the "ancient computer art" category. Just like the old silent films are held as important for history and may even be considered art by some.

I just don't understand the need to label it. Many things preserved for history evoke emotion in people especially if they had family members who tell stories about it.. Old vehicles, war memorabilia, vases, glasswork, tables, chairs, desks.

If there wasn't a little creativity, a little art thrown in to everything... there would be no variation without the need for utility.
 
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