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Ebert vs. video games part II

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So Ebert has a new blog post in the continuing saga of the debate of if a video game is not art. I wrote this reply on the place where I read the news article:


Ebert's newest post doesn't change the two main points I have whenever this topic comes up:

1) I don't think that an actual video game in and of itself is art.
2) I don't care if a video game is art or not.

Most people call the act of playing a video game a hobby. I don't - at least, I don't call the act of playing the games which I like to play the most as a hobby. I consider it an exercise; as something to do to test the limits of your physical and mental capacities. This is why this quote in response on Ebert's blog page is worthless:
"Art isn't about making you feel good. Art is about making you feel."
When I'm busy getting my ass kicked by a game and straining and sweating in playing it and striving to make that millisecond difference in play to succeed when I previously failed numerous times prior, the last thing I feel at that moment is good. I don't see the relevance of what type of emotional response is elicited in an action to make the determination of what makes something art.

Ebert's post uses a dictionary reference to define art as "an expression or application of human creative skill". What this says to me is that a video game can have visual and aural assets which are art, and that a video game can be artfully played, but that the act of any random human being playing any random video game is not art because a video game doesn't necessarily require an expression or application of human creative skill.

The Boston Garden stadium is art. The parquet floor is art. The logo of the Boston Celtics on the parquet floor is art. The playing of the National Anthem before the game is art. Lebron James's act of hitting impossible shots and landing poster-worthy dunks is art. None of this makes Basketball art. No matter what kind of intricate designs and emblems are imprinted on the playing cards or betting chips, Poker is not art.

None of this stops me from wanting to play a video game as opposed to watching a movie or reading a book. I don't understand why there is such crisis and passion in making this determination. Nobody in the MLB is going to disavow their millions of contracted dollars because they suddenly believe that Baseball isn't art. Nobody makes a debate on playing shuffleboard on the basis of if shuffleboard is or is not art. Nobody asked Bobby Fischer if he thought chess is art.


At that point I hit the limit of linebreaks which are allowed at posts at that site.

I thought there was a thread written here earlier which brought up what Ebert said the first time but I didn't find it. I wrote the post here because to me there isn't much of a debate to be had, because I don't think anyone else really cares all that much what Roger Ebert's opinion regarding video games is, and because I spent time to write all that crap and figured I should put it somewhere else.

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Video Games


  1. kingoffighters's Avatar
    If 2 lesbian fonticating each other in an exhibit can be considered art, then videogames is art.
  2. MechDeus's Avatar
    Fear not, I still love you, dog$.
  3. Fe 26's Avatar
    if someone painting an entire page of paper,black, is art, video games can be art.

    I think what gets in the way a lot is the snobbish idea that something purely commercial can't be art. That personal art is some how so much higher than art made by a group of people. Or that some how art that comes from one person's personal feelings is higher than art made to make money.

    Its a very subtle bias against "selling out."

    Which is crap, because some of the greatest art ever made was commissioned by people other than the artiest. Some of the greatest paintings and greatest buildings, even.
  4. Grave's Avatar
    the art/not art distinction is for assholes and is best left to assholes
  5. K3V's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ebert
    I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

    I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games.
  6. Razor Ramon's Avatar
    Isn't this guy missing half his face? Poetic justice.
  7. Nash's Avatar
    Exercising can also be considered a hobby. Stop wasting time on this stupid debate.
  8. dog$'s Avatar
    Man, when I'm exercising it sure doesn't feel like a hobby to me. I'm not exactly doing it to enjoy it.
  9. Compass's Avatar
    He's a rather stubborn guy, but I thought he backed down admirably from the original remark that got him in so much trouble. Regardless of whether games are art, he really didn't know what he was talking about, shouldn't have said anything in the first place, and has now admitted as such.


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