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Old 05-03-2010, 02:08 AM
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Talking concerning Roger Ebert and art

Just a few thoughts.

I don't think he deserves vitriol really. For one thing his statement started when Clive Barker was trying to sell a piece of crap game. It didn't sell on gaming merits so he starting referring to it as art. In that context Ebert had little to go on. Clive Barker then began throwing insults about which made it worse. Ebert being clever with words made Barker look like a simpleton, which didn't speak well for games as art, or it's creators for intelligence.

Another thing is that many people have trouble with the word "art." Is it a noun? Is art the object that is created? Is it a verb and art is the act of creation with the object being the after effect? A "work of art" if you will. If you see art as a noun, which most people seem to, then interactive art is hard to understand. A movie is locked in when it hits theatres and music is locked in on the CD. Both are exact entities even if they are in digital form. Sure you can make your own music but it's just recreating someone elses art. The "art" to many is the object.

Who cares what Ebert thinks about games anyway. I don't care if it's art or not. I enjoy them, same as I enjoy movies without the need to label them or elevate them to some snobish level to excuse them for being enjoyable. If anything having something labeled as art would put me off of it more than attract me. Usually the word is bandied about to sell something that otherwise would be ignored. Is Natural Born Killers art for example because Oliver Stone says it's clever? Yes, but is it a good movie. Hell no, it's one of the worst most pretentious pieces of garbage that I've ever seen.
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Last edited by mkiker2089 : 05-03-2010 at 02:11 AM. Reason: trying to be coherent
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mkiker2089 View Post
Another thing is that many people have trouble with the word "art." Is it a noun? Is art the object that is created?
I think art (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder, anything created by man has the potential to be art (in my opinion). I've seen a lot of abstract paintings that look like random nothing to me but because some fancy pants art dealer says so, its art.

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Who cares what Ebert thinks about games anyway. I don't care if it's art or not.
I don't care if Roger Ebert thinks its art or not but to say something as ignorant as "games can NEVER be art" just belittles the people who put some much work and imagination into these fantastic worlds and stories that we all love.

Last edited by bizarrodin : 05-03-2010 at 06:33 AM. Reason: cuz i can
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:25 AM
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It's still just his opinion though. There's no reason to care really. The only people making it more are the ones repeating it. I haven't read the latest blog from him but in the past he seemed to hinge on the fact that games don't tell a story. We all know he's totally wrong on that point alone, so just leave him to review movies and ignore the ramblings.

What games would change his mind? Resident Evil had a nice story to it, Metal Gear 4 plays like an interactive movie, Batman Arkham Asylum has the feel of a noir film or comic book even.
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:32 AM
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Just found this,


Barker: "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."

Ebert: He is right again about me. I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist. Would "Romeo and Juliet" have been better with a different ending? Rewritten versions of the play were actually produced with happy endings. "King Lear" was also subjected to rewrites; it's such a downer. At this point, taste comes into play. Which version of "Romeo and Juliet," Shakespeare's or Barker's, is superior, deeper, more moving, more "artistic"?


So it comes down to what is art. A verb or noun. Ebert clearly thinks it's a noun. In that respect games have no set story and are therefore no complete works of art. He is wrong, in my opinion. I still don't give him grief over it. To me the entire what is art debate is pointless. I remember someone putting a cross in a jar of urine and getting federal funds for it. Art is everything and taken on the whole art is usually crap, or jars of urine to be exact.
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Old 05-04-2010, 06:50 AM
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It's still just his opinion though. There's no reason to care really.
It may just be his opinion but if I made something I thought was artistic and was proud of only to have Roger Ebert tell me its not art and can't be EVER, I think I'd care... don't see how you couldn't.

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Ebert: He is right again about me. I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist. Would "Romeo and Juliet" have been better with a different ending? Rewritten versions of the play were actually produced with happy endings. "King Lear" was also subjected to rewrites; it's such a downer. At this point, taste comes into play. Which version of "Romeo and Juliet," Shakespeare's or Barker's, is superior, deeper, more moving, more "artistic"?[/i]
Ok, three things.
One, not all games can be "changed" some are very linear and play like a story with a set ending. So, that doesn't really make sense.
Two, why is he only considering the story? I've seen some AMAZING graphic landscapes and awesome character designs in games but these are not art?
Three, we live in an ever changing world and I'm sure at some point in time there were people that thought movies could never be considered art or "high art" Ebert fails to even consider that games could be a new form of art altogether.

I think what bothers me the most about this whole thing is just how ignorant the statement is and coming from someone that I thought to be a fairly learned individual, its just disappointing.

Last edited by bizarrodin : 05-04-2010 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:48 PM
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It may just be his opinion but if I made something I thought was artistic and was proud of only to have Roger Ebert tell me its not art and can't be EVER, I think I'd care... don't see how you couldn't.



Ok, three things.
One, not all games can be "changed" some are very linear and play like a story with a set ending. So, that doesn't really make sense.
Two, why is he only considering the story? I've seen some AMAZING graphic landscapes and awesome character designs in games but these are not art?
Three, we live in an ever changing world and I'm sure at some point in time there were people that thought movies could never be considered art or "high art" Ebert fails to even consider that games could be a new form of art altogether.

I think what bothers me the most about this whole thing is just how ignorant the statement is and coming from someone that I thought to be a fairly learned individual, its just disappointing.
I agree. I think probably the closest thing I can think of to his definition of 'art' would be a game like Grim Fandango. He's probably never even heard of it, but being a Casablanca fan and having a linear story, he might appreciate it more than the shooters he's been referencing. Does anyone know if he's mentioned that his criteria for art is just his personal definition, or is he acting like he knows the 'true' definition of art and is schooling us knuckle draggers about the finer points of this exclusive club that he is speaking for?
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Old 05-22-2010, 02:31 AM
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Though this is a bit of a necro-post. My thoughts on Ebert stating that games can never be art are as follows.

Ebert should know better than to evaluate a another type of media that he has no expertise in. Though I don't trust or him (or any critic for that matter) as a critic in general, he does have a level of knowledge and experience in the world of film that is justifies him to be a critic of film and maybe a screenplay critic.

If we want to use the actual definition of the word "art", then games can very much be art, just like many other media types. Does that mean that all creations in a perticular media classification automatically have an "art" classification? No, of course not.

In gaming, there have been plenty of titles that I would classify as "art". And just like other media, aspects of such titles can be broken down as "art" in varying ways. Here are a few games off the top of my head that I would classify as "art" and which aspect of the game is "artistic".

Examples:
Eufloria - Design, Presentation and Music
Dragon Age/Mass Effect (series) - Story, Character Design
Borderlands - Character Design, Presentation, Music
The Whispered World - Story
Many of the Final Fantasy Series - Story, Character Design, World Design

I'll stop there, but there so many more I couldn't possible list them all.

In summary, Ebert doesn't know what he is talking about and should stick to topics in which he has some level of expertise or at least knowledge of.
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:43 AM
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I could name hundreds but just give 2 examples.

Ico
Okami

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Old 05-23-2010, 09:59 PM
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Agree with all you guys. I heard someone say he was a cultural bigot, which I think is a very apt description.
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Old 05-27-2010, 04:30 PM
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I stand by PORTAL as one of the tightest gameplay experiences that I've ever gone through. It provokes thought and discussion in a memorable package. Where excellent pacing meets quality storytelling. "Ah yes, but is it art?"

One of my personal, greatest gaming accomplishments was convincing a non-gamer, ex-girlfriend that not only could she play PORTAL, but that she must. 2 sessions, 6 hours, and 3 failed attempts at deconstructing GlaDOS later, she beat it. She loved it. And wanted to discuss it.

PORTAL has a unique sense of place, a character with motivations and an actual arc, iconic imagery and world design, subtextual themes, and ultimately that certain spark that captures ones imagination.

Is this art or just a great game? Any entertainment experience that stays with the viewer/audience is art. I can instantly and easily counjour an escher-esque image of the twists and turns that game's visuals put me through. I'll never forget the wave cathartic hilarity that washed over me the first time I heard 'Still Alive.'

Games that exist in a finely-paced, tight package should be respected and elevated. PORTAL is kind of like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003) in that way...but my gayness for that game is a discussion for another time.

See also:
Flower (2009)
Passage (2007)
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)


Also...I love a lot of the games Ryodo, Triple110, and Punk0 are mentioning, too.

Last edited by gweedz : 05-27-2010 at 04:34 PM. Reason: to tell you all how awesome you are
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