In the "Games as art" debate that seems to never end, the number one opponent of our industry's medium of choice being considered art (at least "high art") has been renowned film critic Roger Ebert. Since he made his initial declaratory statements about video games many years ago, folks have piped up on both sides of the argument. Ebert's latest volley in the long-running discussion is a piece published on the Chicago Sun-Times website in response to thatgamecompany prez Kellee Santiago's TED talk at USC last summer.
While he allows Santiago many pleasantries and compliments throughout the piece, he argues that, regardless of her various points, games "can never be art." At the very least, he says, "No video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form." He contests that games consist of "rules, points, objectives, and an outcome," which stands in contrast to his somewhat ambiguous definition of what, exactly, art is. In a moment of seeming clarity at the end of his piece, he asks: "Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art? Bobby Fischer, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus never said they thought their games were an art form." And while we might not agree with all of Mr. Ebert's points, we can certainly find common ground with his wondering why the debate over games as art is still such a topic of concern among gamers (ourselves included).