|
Your continuous donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General Non-RPG » Ebert - as an axiom games can never be Art

Default Ebert - as an axiom games can never be Art

July 1st, 2010, 16:05
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.

At this moment, 4,547 comments have rained down upon me for that blog entry. I'm informed by Wayne Hepner, who turned them into a text file: "It's more than Anna Karenina, David Copperfield and The Brothers Karamazov." I would rather have reread all three than vet that thread. Still, they were a good set of comments for the most part. Perhaps 300 supported my position. The rest were united in opposition.

If you assume I received a lot of cretinous comments from gamers, you would be wrong. I probably killed no more than a dozen. What you see now posted are almost all of the comments sent in. 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.

This is inarguable. Many of the comments continued by debating the definition of art, which, it was pointed out, I never provided. Many others defined art in terms that would include video games. I received dozens of names for video games that the posters said had affected them like art, and they told me why. Three or four games came up time and again.

In my actual experience, I have played "Cosmology of Kyoto," which I enormously enjoyed, and "Myst," for which I lacked the patience. Both games are from the infancy of the form. I'd played no others because—well, because I didn't want to. I particularly didn't want to play one right now, this moment, on demand…

I first expressed my opinion on video games in 2006. At a 2007 "Hollywood and Games Summit" conference, the filmmaker and game auteur Clive Barker responded to some of my statements. Under the circumstances, he was quite civilized. I responded, and you will find the link below. Barker studied English and philosophy at Liverpool, and understood where I was coming from. He said:

"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."…

I concluded without a definition that satisfied me. I had to be prepared to agree that gamers can have an experience that, for them, is Art. I don't know what they can learn about another human being that way, no matter how much they learn about Human Nature. I don't know if they can be inspired to transcend themselves. Perhaps they can. How can I say? I may be wrong. but if 'm not willing to play a video game to find that out, I should say so. I have books to read and movies to see. I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place.
Rest @ [SOURCE]

Is Ebert correct, are games capable of becoming art in the future but currently lacking "artistic" values/requisites? Or are games already a form of art?

IMO, as a medium, gaming offers a level of complexity and interactiveness that is unrivaled and as such has the potential to take art to another level altogether… For example, while I wasn't enamored with the Witcher, Ebert should check it out - the game does a good job of exploring relativism/gray morality(Though entirely fictitious, you also get to explore the character/person of Geralt)… Then again he does not want to even try, which (IMO) reeks of elitism.
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#1

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 376

Default 

July 1st, 2010, 17:29
I don't get this high-falutin' definition of 'Art', really I don't. Browse through the ConceptArt.org forums, surely no one would argue that the pieces people post aren't 'art'. Yet many of them are pictures of spaceships or dinosaurs or half-dressed women. I'm not learning a damn thing about the nature of man or another human being's emotional whatnot when I look at a picture of a spaceship. It's just a really sweet spaceship. So what? It's still 'art', and the product of an 'artist'.

Any extra depth or meaning in these things are subjective. The fact that the object has some purpose beyond the aesthetic is irrelevant, a vintage car or a building can be as much a work of art as a painting, even if they have functional purpose. Games entertain. Can they be art as well? Of course they can, as much as a Church can. All that is required is for people to admire the aesthetic of the thing.

I find this whole thing a silly discussion amongst pretentious people who wrap the concept of 'art' in their pretentious mumbo-jumbo.

Indie game developer.

Dev Blog
Naked Ninja is offline

Naked Ninja

Naked Ninja's Avatar
Watchdog

#2

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 195

Default 

July 1st, 2010, 20:24
Good to see Ebert backing off. However since his now pretty famous article
probably made quite a lot of people pondering upon questions of art
it wasn´t really a bad thing .
Thankfully, art is undefinable. Which is why in most cases I consider when someone says that something isn´t art to be waaaay more arrogant than when someone says that the same something is.

I like reading Ebert´s reviews not because I agree with him or take him as a "guiding light", but because he brings a lot of personality and emotions into them which makes interesting in a similar way it´s interesting to hear an opinion from an eloquent friend. That´s kinda why I haven´t found his article on video games not being art all that surprising or even outrageous.

Everyone who´s seen Anaconda should have a good time reading his review, heh:
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/…704110301/1023

Sorry for a bit of OT.

What you think about most, is what you become.
Last edited by DeepO; July 2nd, 2010 at 16:43.
DeepO is offline

DeepO

DeepO's Avatar
deep outside

#3

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Prague
Posts: 2,284

Default 

July 1st, 2010, 23:58
Good for him. Admirable.

And about time he came to his senses.
Anderson is offline

Anderson

Anderson's Avatar
Consolized

#4

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: US
Posts: 884

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 05:05
Then again he does not want to even try, which (IMO) reeks of elitism.
No, he's saying he wants OUT. He's saying he still doesn't believe video games are art (perhaps because they aren't static!?) but he's also saying his opinion is very much unqualified. Furthermore, he's saying that he doesn't want to become qualified. He's already found some hobbies he likes and, if you're stupid enough to trust his opinion on video games, then that's your own fault.

As for the question - yes, of course they are art. They take a lot of established art forms (pictures, animations, music, stories…), throw in some of their own twists (interactivity being a huge one), and put them together in interesting ways. That's art.

Similarly, if you take a whole bunch of paintings and just toss them into a big box in the basement, that's probably not art - that's just storage. However, if you do what a museum does and arrange the paintings in a pleasing manner, then that is art.
Zloth is offline

Zloth

Zloth's Avatar
I smell a… wumpus!?

#5

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 2,645

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 14:18
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
No, he's saying he wants OUT. He's saying he still doesn't believe video games are art (perhaps because they aren't static!?) but he's also saying his opinion is very much unqualified. Furthermore, he's saying that he doesn't want to become qualified. He's already found some hobbies he likes and, if you're stupid enough to trust his opinion on video games, then that's your own fault.
Putting your opinion forward as fact does not make it any more valid than my own… If one assumes I'd trust value or desire his opinion, on anything really, they'd be incredibly stupid.

Yes he "wants out" but he wants to have his cake and eat it too…

Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so.
When one is unqualified(by their own admission) to hold an opinion on something, but they still hold it anyway that is elitism… Feel free to disagree, it is your prerogative.
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#6

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 376

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 15:15
:shrug: Ebert is wrong. What's the big deal?
Prime Junta is offline

Prime Junta

RPGCodex' Little BRO

#7

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 8,540

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 15:26
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
When one is unqualified(by their own admission) to hold an opinion on something, but they still hold it anyway that is elitism… Feel free to disagree, it is your prerogative.
Just to play devil's advocate here…

What are your qualifications to hold this opinion, about the validity of opinions? Either you are unqualified to make such a judgment but you're holding the opinion anyway, or you're arrogant/elitist enough to believe you're qualified to make objective determinations (validity) about an innately subjective issue (opinions).

Hypocrite or illogical egomaniac? Pick yer poison.

For my next trick, I shall prove, once and for all, that the egg came before the chicken.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
Dallas Cowboys: *sigh* / / Detroit Red Wings: Took injuries to see them, but how about them youngsters!
dteowner is offline

dteowner

dteowner's Avatar
Shoegazer

#8

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 11,256

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 16:21
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
:shrug: Ebert is wrong. What's the big deal?
I'm not sure, it just rubbed me the wrong way…

Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Just to play devil's advocate here…

What are your qualifications to hold this opinion, about the validity of opinions? Either you are unqualified to make such a judgment but you're holding the opinion anyway, or you're arrogant/elitist enough to believe you're qualified to make objective determinations (validity) about an innately subjective issue (opinions).

Hypocrite or illogical egomaniac? Pick yer poison.

For my next trick, I shall prove, once and for all, that the egg came before the chicken.
There in lies your answer or question… Is elitism, or it's perception, subjective?

I gave a definition of elitism, one could accept or reject it.

You've questioned it on the premise that (if it's true) I either: hold the opinion despite lacking qualification or I'm elitist enough to believe myself qualified to make objective determinations with respect to subjective matters…

However, you've provided a *false* false dilemma. I say false false since, for the sake of argument, you've taken my definition of elitism to be true but then redefined it in the second half of your scenario. Or both options are just varying degrees of elitism, per my definition?

- Ebert does not game.
- Ebert believes as an axiom games can never be art.

What would you call that?

Your line of logic is incredibly circular(as I assume you pointed out with the chicken egg reference)… I get it, no one is qualified enough to hold objective opinions. My mistake may have been in assuming Ebert holds himself to be some sort of authority on art and it's intrinsic properties/characteristics.

I will concede my definition of elitism was far too simple and broad, perhaps I should have just called him arrogant?
Last edited by MasterKromm; July 2nd, 2010 at 16:41. Reason: wording
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#9

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 376

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 17:53
I hope whether or not games are art gets resolved soon - I'm having a hard time enjoying games without knowing.
zzajin is offline

zzajin

zzajin's Avatar
innocent bystander

#10

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 135

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 19:15
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
When one is unqualified(by their own admission) to hold an opinion on something, but they still hold it anyway that is elitism… Feel free to disagree, it is your prerogative.
I have no qualifications for anything whatsoever. Would I be less of an elitist if I had a couple of Ph.D's and a black belt?
Prime Junta is offline

Prime Junta

RPGCodex' Little BRO

#11

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 8,540

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 19:31
When one is unqualified(by their own admission) to hold an opinion on something, but they still hold it anyway that is elitism
Not really. It's just having a poorly informed opinion. People have them all the time. The only difference is here, it's a famous and generally well-respected movie critic. But he's just like anyone else — he has opinions on things he knows very little about. You and I are just the same, if you think about it. We just don't create controversy with our ill-informed opinions.
Anderson is offline

Anderson

Anderson's Avatar
Consolized

#12

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: US
Posts: 884

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 20:28
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
There in lies your answer or question… Is elitism, or it's perception, subjective?

I gave a definition of elitism, one could accept or reject it.

You've questioned it on the premise that (if it's true) I either: hold the opinion despite lacking qualification or I'm elitist enough to believe myself qualified to make objective determinations with respect to subjective matters…

However, you've provided a *false* false dilemma. I say false false since, for the sake of argument, you've taken my definition of elitism to be true but then redefined it in the second half of your scenario. Or both options are just varying degrees of elitism, per my definition?

- Ebert does not game.
- Ebert believes as an axiom games can never be art.

What would you call that?

Your line of logic is incredibly circular(as I assume you pointed out with the chicken egg reference)… I get it, no one is qualified enough to hold objective opinions. My mistake may have been in assuming Ebert holds himself to be some sort of authority on art and it's intrinsic properties/characteristics.

I will concede my definition of elitism was far too simple and broad, perhaps I should have just called him arrogant?
It *is* tremendously circular, but I tend to chalk most "deep philosophy" up as circular wankery, so I'm probably not best suited to make the call.

Allow me to put some words in your mouth by ways of summary. If (unqualified) then (opinion = invalid), else (speaker = asshole). Now you didn't say those words, but I believe that's a functional and generic equivalent for your justification to charge Ebert with snobbery (he *is* an elitist prick, BTW, although I tend to agree with most of his movie reviews; most of my disagreements with him tend to revolve around his occasional elitist stance that a movie must be "art-ish, novel, and/or profound" to be entertaining). Now, until such time as your hypothesis is shown to be factually accurate along the lines of 2+2=4, I believe it would be fair to call it an opinion. You can see the circle developing at this point, I'm sure. So, if we plug your opinion into the equation… I think the rest follows pretty easily. To some extent, the whole nitpick hangs on the "theory" that the entire "then" section is impossible right out of the box, but that's ivory tower philosophy fer ya.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
Dallas Cowboys: *sigh* / / Detroit Red Wings: Took injuries to see them, but how about them youngsters!
dteowner is offline

dteowner

dteowner's Avatar
Shoegazer

#13

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 11,256

Default 

July 2nd, 2010, 20:31
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I have no qualifications for anything whatsoever. Would I be less of an elitist if I had a couple of Ph.D's and a black belt?
That depends, if you were trying to convince someone of global warming and you had the appropriate Ph.D's then you would not be an elitist… If you were a "black belt" and decided to criticize Jackie Chan's latest flick's fight scenes for being entirely unrealistic then you would not be an elitist.

If you have "no qualifications" as you stated then why on earth would you be an elitist? Contextually, the definition I provided was for Ebert. "Normal folk" typically don't look down on others, but you are European… Joking I swear

If you were a movie critic who thought so highly of yourself and your own ability to gauge/intepret artistic value and you broke from your raison d'etre to levy undue snarky criticism towards a wholly unrelated medium then yes you would be an elitist…

Ebert just needs to play a Bioware game, then he'd be happy.

Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
It *is* tremendously circular, but I tend to chalk most "deep philosophy" up as circular wankery, so I'm probably not best suited to make the call.

Allow me to put some words in your mouth by ways of summary. If (unqualified) then (opinion = invalid), else (speaker = asshole). Now you didn't say those words, but I believe that's a functional and generic equivalent for your justification to charge Ebert with snobbery (he *is* an elitist prick, BTW, although I tend to agree with most of his movie reviews; most of my disagreements with him tend to revolve around his occasional elitist stance that a movie must be "art-ish, novel, and/or profound" to be entertaining). Now, until such time as your hypothesis is shown to be factually accurate along the lines of 2+2=4, I believe it would be fair to call it an opinion. You can see the circle developing at this point, I'm sure. So, if we plug your opinion into the equation… I think the rest follows pretty easily. To some extent, the whole nitpick hangs on the "theory" that the entire "then" section is impossible right out of the box, but that's ivory tower philosophy fer ya.
You are correct, it should just be seen as any other opinion… However he is famous, his opinions(on movies anyway) are seen as informative and/or valuable. I tend to get peeved when he deviates from his forte and levels unfair/unwarranted criticism towards gaming(and anything else he might feel strongly enough about to opine yet have no meaningful insight towards) in general. It is within that context that I found him to be arrogant/elitist. If I don't understand something I sure as hell don't criticize it, but that's me.

-EDIT-

Leaving to visit family for the 4th, hopefully my pyrotechnics go as expected… Feel free to continue the discussion guys. Oh and Junta, don't know if you missed it, but there's some white text after that dirty little European jab.
Last edited by MasterKromm; July 2nd, 2010 at 22:14.
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#14

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 376

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 09:04
One thing intrigues me. There's a huge dispute as of IF games are or aren't Art. I think it's moot in Post-Duchamp era. Simplistic view is that they would be art if we call them so.

But my question is "Do we want games to be art?"
metamorphium is offline

metamorphium

Watcher

#15

Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 51

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 09:55
Why do we care about what this movie critic says?
DArtagnan is online now

DArtagnan

DArtagnan's Avatar
Waste of potential

#16

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Denmark
Posts: 13,814

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 14:45
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Why do we care about what this movie critic says?
Well, he's a famous, Pulitzer-Prize winning art critic, and he said a pretty provocative thing: video games are not, and never can be art, because of inherent properties of the medium. His message was essentially that the medium was limited and inferior, artistically. So I'm not surprised there has been a response.

The part I don't "get" is why some (or rather many) gamers seemed to take personal offense at his remarks. He got thousands of angry letters. I don't see why people need to get morally outraged and incensed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even poorly informed ones.

Personally, I'm very happy that he made the initial statements. They have led (at least on other forums; I don't know about here) to very interesting discussions about the nature of art and video games as art. These have been some of the more interesting discussions on the 'net I've ever had.
Anderson is offline

Anderson

Anderson's Avatar
Consolized

#17

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: US
Posts: 884

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 16:56
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
Well, he's a famous, Pulitzer-Prize winning art critic, and he said a pretty provocative thing: video games are not, and never can be art, because of inherent properties of the medium. His message was essentially that the medium was limited and inferior, artistically. So I'm not surprised there has been a response.

The part I don't "get" is why some (or rather many) gamers seemed to take personal offense at his remarks. He got thousands of angry letters. I don't see why people need to get morally outraged and incensed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even poorly informed ones.

Personally, I'm very happy that he made the initial statements. They have led (at least on other forums; I don't know about here) to very interesting discussions about the nature of art and video games as art. These have been some of the more interesting discussions on the 'net I've ever had.
I think he's a very overrated movie critic, and I consider him pretty average in that regard - but maybe he was better back in the day. He's simply not smart enough to be a great critic, but that's my opinion.

In any case, he obviously has no knowledge of gaming whatsoever, so anything he says is pretty worthless in terms of an objective "truth". Anyone with a significant intellect would understand that since art has never really had an objective definition, making a bold statement about what can be art, beyond merely as a private observation, is inherently somewhat moronic.

If I'm to care about the opinion of someone, he better know what the hell he's talking about.

Uninformed opinions are utterly worthless, except perhaps when carrying a conversation with the holder. I'm sure Ebert considers himself a competent evaluator of art, but I certainly don't.

I fail to see why someone famous speaking about that which they know nothing about, is more interesting than some random person off the street. I really do - but to each his own
DArtagnan is online now

DArtagnan

DArtagnan's Avatar
Waste of potential

#18

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Denmark
Posts: 13,814

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 19:35
Right o. I think it's the fact that people generalize expertise. That is, if someone is an expert on X, they are assumed to be an expert on Y, especially if the two are closely related, as they were here. Gross versions of the process can be seen in celebrity endorsements, where for instance we assume that since Joe Montana can throw a football straight, he knows something about what the best adult diaper is (or whatever). Or celebrities speaking about politics. Their opinion is accorded more weight, because we respect them in other venues. Even though, rationally, their opinion on Y may be worthless, there is still a human tendency to assume that expertise generalizes somehow.

And I'm different than you, I have always respected Ebert, at least when it comes to movie critiques. He may not be the brightest guy ever invented, but he's no intellectual slouch, and when he talks about my favorite hobby (god help me), I listen. Even if he is a misguided turd about it.
Anderson is offline

Anderson

Anderson's Avatar
Consolized

#19

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: US
Posts: 884

Default 

July 9th, 2010, 21:05
And I'm different than you, I have always respected Ebert, at least when it comes to movie critiques. He may not be the brightest guy ever invented, but he's no intellectual slouch, and when he talks about my favorite hobby (god help me), I listen. Even if he is a misguided turd about it.
Oh, I listen to most people when they speak about my hobby

But I have to take into account what they know from what they say, and it seems supremely obvious to me that Ebert knows about as much about gaming, as I do about rocket science.
Last edited by DArtagnan; July 9th, 2010 at 21:24.
DArtagnan is online now

DArtagnan

DArtagnan's Avatar
Waste of potential

#20

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Denmark
Posts: 13,814
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General Non-RPG » Ebert - as an axiom games can never be Art
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 17:42.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch