Roger Ebert Still Says Video Games Aren't 'High Art': Do We Really Care?


Today’s video games, be they mind-numbing wastes of time like Mario Party or story-driven, “interactive experiences” (I just made that pseudo phrase up) like the Metal Gear Solid series, are not art. Excuse me—they’re not “high art,” as defined by Roger Ebert, film critic and professional curmudgeon. Ebert, who upset fanboys last year with his “games aren’t art” comments, likens video games more to sport than a Picasso. He cites video games’ interactive nature when describing why they’re not “high art.”

Anything can be art. Even a can of Campbell’s soup. What I should have said is that games could not be high art, as I understand it.

How do I know this? How many games have I played? I know it by the definition of the vast majority of games. They tend to involve (1) point and shoot in many variations and plotlines, (2) treasure or scavenger hunts, as in “Myst,” and (3) player control of the outcome. I don’t think these attributes have much to do with art; they have more in common with sports.

In all reality this is a pretty silly debate. Who cares what some washed up old man thinks about the Wii, 360 or PS3? Let him wallow in movies—wait, wait, FILM, sorry—all he wants; I’ll continue to creep through castles and blast aliens with my ice gun.

Ebert: Videogames Still Not Art [Next Gen]