I was looking over a recent post on Arthouse Games about Ebert’s old attack on games as art. . . . I couldn’t help but take the bait, so I commented. Then I figured it was worth putting up over here.
I hold it to be true that no definition of art can be accurate as long as it excludes anything tangible (or, arguably, intangible). There are judgments and criticisms of art, how well it is liked, its value or utility, but there is no logical reason to say that anything that exists is not art. Centuries of art have repeated that lesson.
Furthermore, to say that video games are in some way incapable of meeting the standards of ANY definition of art, is ridiculous. The best Ebert could come up with is suggesting that anything with interactivity dilutes the intent of the artist and is therefore not art, or is somehow “low art.” Is criticism not interactivity? Isn’t light reflecting off of a screen, sculpture or painting and into one’s eyes for their mind’s interpretation interactivity? Do we all share a single uniform experience from a given work or do we perceive it individually? The answers to these questions are obvious. All art involves interactivity in one sense or another. The intent of the artist is, therefore, to select a manner by which the audience will be controlled or manipulated to a given end.
No medium to date equals video games in expressive complexity and freedom. Not to mention, no medium inspires as much audience dedication and thus no medium can deliver as much raw experiential data to the willing member of a lay audience.
No one will ever spend over 100 hours reading a single book, watching a single film, viewing a single painting, or listening to a single song. Video games achieved that sort of attention not long after conception.
Mind you, I meant 100 solid hours. I suppose I should have made that clear. I’m surprised that professionals in games seem to concede that games are not as true to the artist’s intent because of player freedom. . . . That is completely and obviously false. . . .