Remember when Roger Ebert said games aren't art? That not only set off a flurry of reactionary activity in forums and other online game communities, but those who make our games also took umbrage.

Fast Company has a great assembly of responses to Ebert's comment, all from major players in the industry. Some, like Ubisoft boss Laurent Detoc, actually agrees and says he isn't sure if even Hideo Kojima would consider video games to be "art." But others are on the side of most gamers. Here's what Joseph Olin, President of the the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences had to say:

"I honestly thought that he might respond to Flower or Flow in some way, based upon his much publicized remarks–but he obviously did not pick up a game pad and play; basing his argument on Kellee Santiago's presentation from a TedX conference. I would have to say that Clover Studio's Okami would be my suggestion (although many arguments could be made for Metal Gear Solid 3). Okami was Hideki Kamiya's game based upon classical Japanese history (somewhat filtered) whose story was about Ameratsu, the sun goddess embodied as a white wolf and Issun, a self absorbed artist who ultimately forge a deep relationship while trying to restore life and color to black and barren land that was cursed by 8-headed dragon Orochi."

And what about some of the biggest accomplishments we've ever seen? What about certain games that have pushed the boundaries of both technical and artistic achievement? Nick Earl, Senior VP and Group GM, Electronic Arts:

"I think Uncharted 2 is one of the most incredible, flawless entertainment experiences that I have played in my entire career. If he played that game, he would be able to get through it as a non-gamer, because you can't help but get through it. It is just so beautifully delivered–the dialogue, the story, the acting is world class. It will match up against any movie, in my opinion. I give them tremendous credit for what they did in that game. To me that is a beacon of hope for the industry, especially my group. I think it is art. It is absolutely art."

For our part, we're going to ask the same question we asked when we first heard of Ebert's comment: if the likes of music composition, drawing/artistry, animation, performance art (i.e., acting), writing, character development, etc. is all considered "art" – and by themselves, we're certain Ebert would indeed say that music, paintings and sculpture, and literature are all art – how can a product that includes all such facets not be art? …we're just confused.

Related Game(s): Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

By the way, let's not have the Comment section explode with Ebert hate. Be more thoughtful than that.

kevinater321
kevinater321
12 years ago

As much as i hate that guy i agree, we are better than that here.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

What if Michealangelo were transported to this time. I can only wonder what he would create with the tools of present day. What kind of GAME would he manifest? Would it be considered ART? Or any other past, present or future fanous artist for that matter.


Last edited by FatherSun on 6/22/2010 11:57:25 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

If Michelangelo were transported to this time, he'd promptly take his own life.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

@BEN. I had to log back in just to reply to your comment. I literally laughed out loud. Poor Michealangelo.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
12 years ago

Definitely have to agree with Ben here. The modern day is tragic.

NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
12 years ago

Unfortunately, this is just the standard opinion of the older generation. Its something they dont like or understand, so it must be wrong or sub-par. Its been that way since the dawn of time. Remember when Elvis was gaining popularity (i know, nobody here is old enough to 'remember' this, but you get it) and parents/grandparents everywhere wanted to stop this out of control rock-and-roll? Its the same thing now, just with video games.

I bet that 40-50 years from now when my grandchildren start going on about the next new big thing i'll dismiss it as unimportant and marginal, just as Ebert does with gaming.

Nobody is to blame, we all cant be the "cool" grandparents on the block, but when Ebert refuses to keep up with the times then he as made himself obsolete and irrelevant to the (entertainment) industry as a whole.


Last edited by NoSmokingBandit on 6/22/2010 9:48:33 PM

BTNwarrior
BTNwarrior
12 years ago

just another older generation refusing to accept what has replaced what they grew up with. Like parents refusing to accept rock and roll, and hippies refusing to accept rap. I seriously hope that my generation doesn't grow up hating the next thing.

Zorigo
Zorigo
12 years ago

but it probably will.
how old are you? teens? then we have no hope, most teens on the streets hate each other already….

is it me or has this comments section just started talking about how sh** life is these days…

in other news, summer's here…

BTNwarrior
BTNwarrior
12 years ago

21 right now, but I have so far loved everything new that has come out so I am having a hard time thinking of something that could come out that I would hate

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
12 years ago

Ok, so most gamers will agree that Uncharted 2 was great. But I think I might be in the little, VERY little group of people that liked the first one more than the second one.

Yeah, I just said that I think Uncarted: Drake's Fortune is better than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and no, I'm not drunk.

Jawknee
Jawknee
12 years ago

Oh how dare you. -.-

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Erm, which stuff was better?

Temjin001
Temjin001
12 years ago

Yes, a very very small group of people………………………..

Perhaps not even a group………….

Maybe you stand alone my friend.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
12 years ago

Although I dont agree 100%, I do agree that despite the technical leaps, UC2 has over UC:DF. The first game was in my eyes what the Second is now! I always like the first of anything better. And while its easy for me to say the second is a better production, the first has a more significant place in me.

I personally liked the way the story progressed in the first better though. I have a soft spot for history and treasure and the first seemed I dont know more Interesting, what with the relationship to Francis Drake, and his zombified crew! EPIC! Now thats not taking anything away from UC2, gosh that game is amazing and Its definitely the best game of the generation, heck I think in my eyes all things considered theres not really a better game out there. As I said the first to me, is what UC2 is now, and because its the first in the series, it gets the nudge where it stands in my game shelf.

Its kind of hard to explain lol, I just really enjoy both! The 2 best games I've played hands down.


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 6/23/2010 12:41:05 AM

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

Uncharted Drakes Fortune would have got a similar average score to GTAIV had UC1 been what UC2 was.

Godslim
Godslim
12 years ago

the first one did have a great twist in it….tbh i like them both equally

tridon
tridon
12 years ago

Looks like you're not standing alone on that one. I love Uncharted 2, but I still prefer over the sequel any day.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
12 years ago

snaaaake-

Personally I think GTA4 got the scores it did cus of hype. To this day I cant understand why it scored so high. Maybe its fun factor I dont know, cus I enjoyed the game, I really did. But For ME to Say it was a better experience than playing UC:DF, well, I'd be lying flat out. Thats all I'm saying. It's all about how much I, enjoyed the game.

Jawknee
Jawknee
12 years ago

Yea I don't know how people can say it's not art with games like Uncharted 2. Even Metal Gear feels artsy to me.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
12 years ago

They are all art. I'd like Ebert to tell the Art Director of a game his drawings are not art! These images we see all start on a piece of paper with a pencil!

Bugzbunny109
Bugzbunny109
12 years ago

That guy doesn't know what he is talking about. He doesn't know what art is; and should keep his jive comments to himself. By the way, a game doesn't have to be as good as Uncharted 2 or MGS4 to be considered art; maybe to "good art", but regardless, it is still art.

Also people have this idea that paintings and drawings are solely art. Art is not what society conventionally see it as. Art involves the creativity of the mind and the ability to introduce something novel and creative.


Last edited by Bugzbunny109 on 6/22/2010 10:14:11 PM

Alienange
Alienange
12 years ago

Can it be that both perspectives are correct? That some games are indeed art while many are not? You can't possibly expect us to claim that every video game made is a form of art. Many are just games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

Some developers however have used gaming technology to bring us art and it is here where I believe many, Ebert included, cannot look beyond the 'toy' to see the art.

As much as I think Ebert was mistaken to say what he did, I believe we might need a little more context to what he said before insulting the guy.

NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
12 years ago

But that would imply that some paintings are art while other paintings are nothing more than pain on canvas. Some music is art while other music is just frequencies that follow a rhythm, nothing more.
I guess i have a liberal view of what art is. Anything someone makes with intent of creating a response is art to me. Some art sucks, some art may exist to create a negative response, but its art nonetheless.


Last edited by NoSmokingBandit on 6/22/2010 10:17:51 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Even Monopoly incorporates art though, that mustache guy is recognizable across the globe.

Edit: Agree with NoSmokingBandit. I may not think painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa is art, but it is part of an art movement and is in all the textbooks so yeah.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/22/2010 10:19:05 PM

Alienange
Alienange
12 years ago

@ NoSmokingBandit – You say "anything someone makes with intent of creating a response is art"

My previous comment was made with the intent of creating a response. Would you call it art? I wouldn't.

You can call Monopoly art if you want but you'd be mistaken. It's not art and neither is lawn darts or bowling.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

…and yet, somebody somewhere paid an artist to come up with the cards, box, and board art.

Snicket
Snicket
12 years ago

I think you are very close to the point Alienage, I think the main factor that is holding video games back form being called art is the game aspect. In many ways video games have more in common at its core with sports than with art. This is an argument that Ebert presents, while sports also can have art elements in them, Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods would never call what they do, "art". In the same way video games have many art like qualities in them, but that doesent make them art. Not saying I agree, but I can see the value in the arguments.

Anybody who says that Ebert is irrelevant is clearly just throwing names around, because that couldint be farther from the truth.

NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
12 years ago

Well, yes. Your post wasnt necessarily good art (nor are mine, just to make a point), but like all literature i would consider it an art form.
I'm not going to create an invisible line of quality that one must pass in order to be considered "art" in my book.

Like i said though, i suppose i have a large view of what can be considered art. You, obviously, do not. Not that either of us are wrong as i dont think something such as art can really be defined.

But when someone like Ebert (back on topic, yay!) dismisses and entire medium he is being closed-minded. He may not think that something such as GTA can be considered art by his "high" standards, but dismissing and entire medium is absurd. Thats like saying i've only seen ugly paintings, so i dont consider any painting art and i wont waste my time looking at any more. Its just plain absurd and i really cant understand how he could rationalize that in his mind. I'm sure people several hundred years ago would scoff at the idea of music created by computers being called art, but with bands like Daft Punk and The Album Leaf its plainly obvious that electronic music can be just as moving as something played live by a human.

So i guess i really dont care about how Ebert judges individual games, but that he shuns the whole industry without really taking the time to learn what its all about.

With that said, i'm going to bed, so dont think i'm ignoring you if i dont post again soon 😉

RadioHeader
RadioHeader
12 years ago

"Your post wasnt necessarily good art"

lol A new and cultured age of trolling 🙂 …No offence to anyone, I just like this thread.

Alienange
Alienange
12 years ago

@ NoSmokingBandit – Talking about art put me to sleep last night too.

just2skillf00l
just2skillf00l
12 years ago

I addressed this in an earlier article about games not being works of art. Well…I suppose it all depends on how you define art. Surely if art is just a visual or auditory creative representation of culture, history, ideas, etc…then art is simply everything. However, Hideo Kojima argues that art is something that expresses total freedom of expression. Not that Kojima has the right definition of art but the fact that he closely spends time directing and developing games he understands the process from translating a story into a video game script.

Censorship is a term that comes to mind when examining this type of predicament. If art is the ability to COMPLETELY express yourself via ideas, events, and imagery, censorship can't be apart of the equation. Although I enjoy video games I understand that game scripts are molded and censored for the targeted audience's sake. Even in God of War 3 there are some things they can't show. Of course boobs have infiltrated and survived censorship pursuits but a man's and woman's lower private parts will probably never successfully enter an accepted game's fantastic reality. Not that people even what them to, it's just that the idea that the option is not available. If you place restrictions and regulations on games, movies, and other mediums…how can they be considered art. If art is the freedom of total expression, shouldn't an artist be able to freely explore and express his/her mind regardless of the explicitness of the content.

Heavy Rain and God of War 3 instantly come to mind but both developers boast that they couldn't entirely embrace their visions despite how grim, bloody, and sinister these games were. Although God of War 3 was enough to make even the most vampiric of blood-lusters turn away from excess streaks of thick red the developers claim they had a darker desire than what came to fruition. Despite it being for the good of the consumer…censorship is censorship.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

I think the problem is that art as we are used to it is something we experience passively. You watch a movie, look at a painting, listen to music, read literature, etc. With games because we participate it must not be art.

I once attended an interesting exhibit in which you traveled down a narrowing faux apartment hallway and listened to the conversations and noises within at each apartment door. At first I was like, this is stupid, but by the end I got it. Definitely participatory art.

We don't just interact with games, they interact with us.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/22/2010 10:17:02 PM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
12 years ago

Comes back to the old question as to "what is art?" Ebert is not the determinant of what is or is not art. Art is if nothing else in the eye of the beholder. It's an expression of a thought or emotion that the viewer can experience or even interact with. In that sense all games are art.

Ebert might want to re-evaluate his statement lest he appear somewhat closed minded.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Artis the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression

Underdog15
Underdog15
12 years ago

Thanks for the Wikipedia excerpt.

But still, I can't help but notice that definition is remarkably similar to the process that goes into the development of many games out there.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

WIKIPEDIA SAYS: Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions.

Many games are deliberately arranged, affect senses and also stir emotions. Even on the most basic of levels.

As an artist I feel this subject should not even need debate. No one can dictate what I or any other individual considers to be art.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Thank you.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

Much obliged.

telly
telly
12 years ago

That's what i'm saying — I'm at a loss for how to argue in favor of "games are art!" because it's beyond obvious that they are, by virtually any definition of "art." If someone says the sky is green, what can you're argument be other than "you're wrong" ?

Phoelix
Phoelix
12 years ago

These kinds of people should be ignored. If he can't see what's right in front of his face, there isn't much we can do to sway his opinion. All (pretty much, right?) of our efforts to convince him/anyone else of the same mindset would probably fail.

I wish I were wrong here, but people aren't too big on reversing their opinions.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

I agree and also disagree.

I do not understand why some cannot see what is in front of them as well. But that is a matter of choice and taste. To each his own.

I disagree because this is exactly the type of person that we should never ignore. This is the type of thinking that has hindered the progress of humankind. Which reminds me of the Swartzenegger VS ECA petition.
It will begin with the games… which will create the small crack needed to infiltrate other industries.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Did you just get your "Thank you" email for signing that petition against Arney too?

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

@World. Yes. Down with SKYNET!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

hahaha

Hezzron
Hezzron
12 years ago

Give video games a little credit. It's ludicrous to see what other monstrous creations passes for art these days.

"Electronic Arts"….kinda says it all.


Last edited by Hezzron on 6/22/2010 11:13:09 PM

Temjin001
Temjin001
12 years ago

It seems the videogame and art debate comes up from time to time and during which I haven't spent much time to try and understand the debate. This is in part because I don't really understand what "art" is.

Pulling up my trusty dictionary widget it defines art as this.

noun
1 the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power : the art of the Renaissance | great art is concerned with moral imperfections | she studied art in Paris.
• works produced by such skill and imagination : his collection of modern art | an exhibition of Tibetan art | [as adj. ] an art critic.
• creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture : she's good at art.
2 ( the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance : the visual arts | [in sing. ] the art of photography.
3 ( arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects) : the belief that the arts and sciences were incompatible | the Faculty of Arts.
4 a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice : the art of conversation.

Unless I'm missing something I don't see how videogames couldn't be considered a form of art… I really don't see why outspoken critics would argue that. 'nuff said

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
12 years ago

Some of you guys above in the first few posts need to stop with all that "it's the older generation" bullsh!t.
Yeah right, like there's no "F"-up's out there in your own younger generation!!!!!

Not all of us "older" guys are as feeble minded, & farsighted as Ebert is.

I'm 57, and have 20 console & handhelds, and over 1500 games, & I'd call everyone single one of those games art, in one form or another.

Pong is art, Pacman is art, even silly little Army Men3D(the series was fun as hell though) is art. Must I really go on & on?

It's considered art by the one making it, but for some of us it tends to be only "in the eye of the beholder".
But what's truly unfortunate, is that Ebert seems to gotten his eyesight blinded by too many bad movies. Or else maybe he just never learned how to get off the pipe like the rest of us geezers did, way way back in the early eighties.

But just the fact that he won't even pick up a controller to at least try & prove his point, just proves that he's way too narrow minded to ever know what art is, even if Mona Lisa were to fall off the museum wall & re-frame his shoulders.

Ebert, you really need to stick to movies, it's the only thing you do that even comes remotely close to being semi-good.

FatherSun
FatherSun
12 years ago

Nail on the head.

It is not a matter of age or generation. It is a matter of refusing to accept the world as it changes around us. As well as allowing others their freedom of opinion and perception. Believe me. I know alot of 30, 40 even 60 years old children that have never grown up. Correction. Never MATURED. And yet I have also met younger people who have mentally matured well beyond their years.

Who knows… I will probably die with a controller in my hands. Or whatever form of input we will be using in the far far distant future.


Last edited by FatherSun on 6/23/2010 12:07:18 AM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

I don't think anyone meant to corner you Biker, just like not all of the younger generation are pinheads that can only twitch, but sometimes that's what we paint them as.