Recently, Roger Ebert managed to annoy the entire Internet by proclaiming that video games were not now, and would never be, serious art. For those of you who missed this kerfluffle, this was about as popular as proclaiming that Hitler wasn’t that bad of a guy. The blog entry got thousands of comments, most of which amounted to “ARE TOO ARE TOO ARE TOO!”
And now Ebert has admitted he made a mistake. He does still happen to think that video games aren’t art and never will be art. But he thinks he was making a bit of an ass of himself by saying it like it was a definitive statement. After all, as Ebert himself admits, nobody can really know the future, and gaming may make a huge leap artistically.
Here’s the problem: I don’t think Ebert is entirely off-base.
When I’m not stunning women with my Gamma Squad credentials, I’m a graduate student and a filmmaker, and one thing that annoys me about modern gaming is the insistence on storytelling and being “cinematic”. Games are terrible about telling stories. They’re just no good at it. How many times have you had to do something flagrantly stupid in a video game solely to advance the plot? Doesn’t it annoy you, every single time?
Most people argue “Shadow of the Colossus” as great gaming art, but as far as a demonstration of gaming as a storytelling medium, the best game is definitely “Portal”. Why? Because you learn about the story at your own pace, discovering clues and listening to dialogue as you play, instead of being interrupted by cutscenes or required to do something idiotic.
Although I guess running at a turret counts as “idiotic”. But you get the point.
[ via Kotaku ]