Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roger Ebert, less wrong, more misunderstood?

Roger Ebert, of whom I am a huge fan, has taken a lot of heat for his "Video Games aren't art" stance.  Chris Anderson of Wired, who I am also a huge fan, has published a clarification, which if accurate goes a long way to soothing the pain of Ebert's betrayal of all I hold dear (kidding.)

Tasty Choices! Is the plate you construct art?

Chris Anderson's Clarification

The crux of the issue is how Ebert defines art. His definition centers on the intent of the artist more than the experience the person engaged with the piece.  I still disagree, but can respect his view now that I understand it better.  When I read his original article for whatever reason I missed this point entirely.  I may have been reading with emotional blinders on.

Ebert: I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist...Art seeks to lead you to an inevitable conclusion, not a smorgasbord of choices.

And there you go. The thing is, I still consider thought and emotion provoking games like Half Life 2 art, and I don't feel like I am the artist when I play them. Ebert may actually be giving games too much credit. Most allow choices, but the final results of the games are normally fixed, or a narrow set of fixed possibilities.  Games like Spore, where the player really does have a vast paint brush to play with, allow the player to be the artist, but the game itself is still, to my dismay, rather linear with a more or less inevitable conclusion.  Still art.


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