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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Can Video Games Be Art?

No. Sorry.

Well, that's what noted movie reviewer Roger Ebert says. Video games are scripted to have a story with alternate story lines and outcomes, so they have potential to be art, if any literature does. Video games also have visual components, so they have potential to be art, if any visual media does. And they have audio components....bad ones, usually, but they have them.

With all this pent-up potential brewing, why does Roger Ebert think they can never be art.

Here is Mr. Ebert's article, videos games can never be art in his column at his home stomping grounds, the Chicago Sun-Times.

It is not surprising that consideration about this is crippled a bit by the difficulty of defining art...you know it when you see it, but people see differently.

Mr. Ebert invited a thoughtful video designer, Ms. Kellee Santiago, to be the foil for this discussion...in fact, so that it can be a discussion rather than an edict. He provided a link to her 15-minuted video on video games, which was made prior to Ebert's stand on the matter. She provides three examples that she considers artful and compares the maturation of video games to the progression of cave drawings to art.

That's said, Ebert remains firm on the matter: a video game is a game and will never be art, but concedes that never is a long time:

"One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them."

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