me vs. ebert on the legitimacy of games as a serious art form
published Wednesday, November 30, 2005 by j | email this post
maintains that games will never ascend to the artistic level of film or literature, which i find boggling, considering that many literati would contest whether or not film belongs in that category in the first place. ebert's main argument is that "video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control." not being a gamer, ebert doesn't realize that in the best games, the choices available to the player are very
he also says "to my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers." while it may not represent the ultimate potential of the form, i believe the beginning of gaming as a serious art came with 'myst,' in which the choices presented to the player were moral conundrums, teaching as much as entertaining, and was as much about 'experience' as it was about 'playing.' games are becoming the new mass media version of performance art, in which the player is now audience participant. it's exciting to think about, especially as the tools of game creation become more widespread.
as generations grow out of childhood, their artists find opportunity to bring legitimacy to the mediums and forms scorned by their parents. we can see this in the way that george lucas and steven speilberg brought legitimacy to saturday morning serials through their treatment of 'indiana jones.' we're seeing it now with the hailing of the comic book and the rise of graphic novels. we're seeing it with rap and hip hop, and we'll see it with video games. we may not have a 'citizen kane' yet
, but it's arrival feels imminent and certain.
perhaps, like 'kane,' the true paragon of the form already exists but will not be appreciated for some time. perhaps it is