Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ebert: video games inherently inferior to film and literature

Ebert: video games inherently inferior to film and literature

Film critic Roger EbertRoger Ebert is arguably the world’s best-known movie critic, but his knowledge of video games appears to be nominal at best (and blatantly ignorant at worst).

Consider his online response (3rd question down) to a fan who asks why Ebert won’t broaden his horizons for games as he has for comic books and animation: “Yours is the most civil of countless messages I have received after writing that I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control.”

The second paragraph of his response demands direct quotations as well: ”[T]he nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship [however elegant or sophisticated] to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers…. for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available tomake ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.”

Wait, so Roger Ebert is unfamiliar with the linear storylines and cutscene extravaganzas already cliched in console RPGs these days? Has no one deigned to show him a Metal Gear Solid or even the original Xenosaga yet? Or did those wacky endings in fighting games turn him off from the possibility of games with cinematic storytelling forever?
[Via Joystiq] My Thumb is Down I remember when I was watching Ebert and Roeper once, they were reviewing Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Ebert said "This movie is based on a video game, so I suggest buying the video game and boring yourself instead of paying this movie to do it for you." That really rubs me the wrong way. I understand why he wouldn't want to play video games, but to insult them without research is unprofessional. Ebert has this attitude of "If you play one game, you've played them all." And assumes that all video games have a plot equivalent to Pong. He really bothers me, but then again, he's no Jack Thompson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I respect Ebert, but his comment on video games is completely ignorant and unproffessional.