I encourage you to first watch the above video and then read Roger Ebert’s analysis.
Roger Ebert, a highly renowned film critic recently wrote a blog post analyzing the matter. He chooses to dissect Kellee Santiago, a designer and producer of videogames who spoke of interactive media and it’s relation to art during a USC Ted Talk. She brings many great examples to the table and cites accurate facts to the viewer. However, she lacks in precise facts, thus opening up her defenses to Ebert’s proclamation.
In the beginning of her speech she proceeds to portray her opinion concerning the outcome of the debate: saying videogames are already art. This is a risky statement to make at such an early part of her discussion, and she shows corresponding facts accordingly. Almost immediately after her abrupt start, she disagrees with one of Ebert’s past quotes on the same subject matter. Ebert makes a very important statement that can be brought up on either sides of the argument, “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.”
Ebert is telling us that videogames, in their current state, cannot be compared or interpreted like the works of famous writers and filmmakers. This is where Ebert shows his inability to fully understand the phenomena that occurs when playing interactive media. His opinion suggests that people play a game, beat it, and place it back on the shelf to never see the light of day again.
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 an 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.
Winning a game can be understood as finishing or closing an experience. He also says that games have rules, and an outcome. Ebert fails to realize the contradiction that he so obviously spells out. If I’m not mistaken, stories, novels, plays, and films all have endings. Not only do they all end, but they all have certain ways to be perceived, otherwise known as rules. Making these useless points that games can’t be art because they end and possess limitations, is strictly idiotic and ignorant.
Videogames are not mindless interactions involving one pressing buttons and a simultaneous reaction on-screen. Videogames are an experience that can be cherished just as much as those of famous artists. Santiago continues her speech to bring up three games that she believes are examples of art. Although she is simply trying to better cushion her opinion, she can only say that these games have received critical acclaim. I’m pretty sure that M. Night. Shyamalan could say that his movie, The Village has also reached critical acclaim, but that doesn’t improve a disaster of a movie. To this, Ebert responds with some rather cocky comments comparing a paragraph of a storyline to that of a fortune cookie.
Unlike a fortune cookie, Ebert can only fill your head with madness and states that he believes having control of an aspect or event, further detracts from the subject’s relation to art. I combat this ghastly outlook to say that I believe this increases the radiance and effect of said experience. Being able to create your own events while immersing yourself in an alternate reality is art at its best. Movies and novels don’t allow you to construct your own scenarios, leaving this trait exclusive to videogames.
Art has been around for ages and has been seen through a wide variety of ways. A person’s experience during a form of art is what makes it so elegant and powerful. People play videogames and tell their friends, family, and even co-workers about different aspects of the time they spent with them. Movies, novels, plays, and poetry also contain this contagious factor of having the need to regurgitate a plethora of excitement and intrigue on your cohorts. Videogames still aren’t widely known for their artistic value, but as each consecutive one is released to the public, society will come to realize that they too, are art.