Roger Ebert is Right: Games are Not High Art…Yet

Tony Huyhn, videogame designer, writes:

"This may sound blasphemous, but in a way, I agree with Roger Ebert's assessment of our industry. Video games are currently not high art and they are an inferior medium to film and literature. I am not saying that video games can never be "high art," it is that games have not yet reached that point. Video games have many challenges that other mediums do not have."

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Gun_Senshi3411d ago

Games like Okami are ART

IzKyD13313411d ago (Edited 3411d ago )

Add Shadow of the Colossus and ICO to that list. Storywise, MGS4, and Bioshock beat 90% of the movies released in the past year.

Bnet3433411d ago

story wise also GTAIV. Also, Prince of Persia (the new one) and Viva Pinata. Mad World also looks good.

NO_PUDding3411d ago

NO.... Not at all.

MGS4 is the only one I can think of with a political and social commentry in it. But it could have been done in a movie, and it could have been FAR better edited.

Okami is NOT anymore a piece of art than you're regular puzzle platformer. It's almost informative. But people get confused by art direction

Shadow of the Colossus and ICO are actually the first games to properly facilitate games as a piece of art. The first time.

lord_of_balrogs3411d ago

I hate Roger Ebert his movie reviews are crap. He takes one look at an action movie and it's an automatic "Your movie suckz 1/4." One look at "The Reader" and it's automatic "OMGZ 4/4."

He is the most ignorant movie critic ever who only believes that "cultured" movies can be good.

NO_PUDding3411d ago

He's a high brow critic, ofcourse he does.

And good for him. Movies have been a round for almost 100 years (publicly accessible).

Tempist3410d ago

There are a lot of fundamental flaws in the arguements he makes, but there are some points to contemplate.

Shadow of the Colossas is not high art, it is an experience however, but it's right to say it's not high art. As counter point for his 'The Terrorist' example, remember that Columbine RPG? Did that not challenge a difficult subject in an even more interesting manner (via the lives of the killers)?

Stepping back, you cannot call the majority of main-stream video games high art, however there are games in nooks and crannies that get over looked that are good candidates.

Flow and Flower are good candidates. Flow pits you as a creature eating other creatures not to mention eating similar creatures.

Killzone 2 will surely turn out to have a strong political backstory as well as other elements to it. COD4's parallels to real life events are stronly apparent (however are missed by many).

Hell even Half-life 1 challenged ethics of what an organization was doing as well as making Gordon seem to be a meer pawn to elements beyond his control.

To be honest, there's a double edge here; most games have to sell and be appealing. Anytime anything actually challenging is in it, it gets scensored since big money keeps people from saying 'it's artisitic commentary'. If you want to see games as art, people are going to have to put as many restrictions on it as art has (which are practically none).

SaiyanFury3410d ago

Yeah I'm still arguing with Roger Ebert. Some games are Artful. MGS4 is an instance of this. MGS4 is considerably an art in video games. The story is better than about 90% of Hollywood movies these days. Video games are already an art form, and just because Roger Ebert refuses to acknowledge games as art, doesn't make it so. MGS4 is very relevant to the art form and even if a few people don't see it, it's a fact. Games are already an art form despite the pathetic arguments of people like Ebert. Welcome to our reality.

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Saladfax3411d ago

However, just because the medium as a whole isn't really art does not mean that individuals within can't be.

You've got haunting music, beautiful visuals, a compelling narrative, and even unprecedented interactivity.

It pretty much fits Wagner's principle of total work of art.

Although I will say that very few games can really be classified that way.

techwizz3411d ago

I definitely agree. I feel some games are closer to it than we've seen in the past. BioShock is a good example, as is Mass Effect. Mass Effect even had an instance of true choice and consequence that added a lot of drama to the events on Vermire. It drew out emotion in me that I haven't felt in a while in a game. Any game that accomplishes that should be considered art.

In addition, it had a fantastic story with a very deep history. Even movies don't have that much content. Only books can rival it.

poeo3411d ago

that was pretty much what i was going to say!

to me games are sometimes BEYOND art, in that they contain many different forms of art (beautiful music etc), and are much more than the sum of their parts..

just as an example, i'm currently playing Fallout 3, and it's a phenomenal experience, stirs some really deep emotions in me, as compared to staring at Mona Lisa or something (i wont deny it's a fine painting though). that one game took years and lots of effort to make, and many people put their hearts into the project (it shows).. there's no fricking way i could say that it's not even close to being art... IMO it's better and more engaging as a whole than a lot of great movies.

most games are crap art-wise though, so it's no wonder the general public has a hard time connecting art and videogames lol.

shovelbum3411d ago

I could argue that video games can be art and some should be considered as such. I could even say the movies Doom and House of the Dead are forms of art but I won't. The talent of the artist matters not unfortunately. Art requires aesthetic assessment and an emotional attachment. Many burgeoning "artful" games provide just that with great narratives, cinematic cutscenes, and complex characters. Video games are not nor ever will be genuine art but they are one form of art.

wibble3411d ago (Edited 3411d ago )

It's the scenery that's the art. You just have to look beyond the virtual bad guys with the guns.

I do it all the time, I kill the punks and then stand around admiring the pretty scenery. :)

For me it's no different than admiring a painting on a wall.

poeo3411d ago


especially when you can easily tell that the developers put a lot of effort into making a virtual world feel "alive" and it has great atmosphere.. that's art right there.

geda3411d ago

flOwer = Ebert's argument is dead

NO_PUDding3411d ago

You have to play it first before you can say that.

I am sure this will have social commentry, but I think another medium could have expressed it pretty accurately.

McLuvn3411d ago

wouldn't know art if their life depended on it. They're just snobs like all critics who think their opinions are fact. Think for yourself.

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