Videogames Vs. Film


Registered Member
Roger Ebert responding to a Reader's comment in his column:

Comment from Reader: "saddened to read that you consider videogames an inherently inferior medium to film and literature, despite your admitted lack of familiarity with the great works of the medium. Was not film itself once a new field of art? Did it not also take decades for its academic respectability to be recognised?""

Eberts answer: "I did indeed consider videogames inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Videogames by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. [Videogames] can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful...the nature of the medium prevents if from moving beyond craftmanship 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. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept."

"But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilised and empathetic"

Hmmm...what does everyone think about this?


Registered Member
I think Ebert is an ass.

In those series of quotes, he starts out good enough, but gets more assoholic as he goes on, finally ending with the big mistake of taking "most" gameplayers and holding that as a stereotypical opinion for the rest. It's not that it's not true (and usually I'd be tempted to overlook it), but in this case, he's clearly used that stereotype as a factor of reasoning to support the rest of his negative opinion on videogames, which makes it more than just a simple innocent observation. Sure, I could sit here just the same way and say "yeah, videogame players are mostly potheads, and a lot of them are wasting their life with these things", but I won't associate that with any of my opinions about videogames because those can stand on their own grounds with their own reasoning. I think that's what Ebert lacks here. Another big mistake he's making is assuming that there's something inferior about games just because no games have been "looked at" the sameway as masterpiece works of art. And that's stupid because that's just a matter of lack of recognition, which says nothing about the games themselves. I'm sure if you get some serious gamers together and dump a list of games in front of them, they can quickly pick out the ones that are like art from those that are the movie equivalent of cheap games made for marketing schemes. There are direct analogies EVERYWHERE.

But as I said before, he gets stupider and stupider as he goes along here.


Registered Member
Ok. I'm done with work, so I can add my two cents now.

Usually, I end up agreeing with many of the reviews that Ebert gives. But this viewpoint, I dunno. It upset me. It's like he's almighty and he is looking down on gamers. I can see his point on video games relying on user input for the end result. You don't have that luxury with film or literature (well, except those Choose Your Own Adventure Books, but I am sure he is not counting those as literature).

But to say that people who play video games are less cultured is rediculous. I believe those who choose to play are actually influencing culture. Isn't culture a reflection of everyone within a society? Don't people who play video games fit in there??


Registered Member
I also like Ebert as a "general" critic (and I do emphasize the word GENERAL) but the thing that really bugs me about him is his tendancy to occassionally harp on the most stupid and insignificant of things in a film and hold it against the entire film. There is many a good film out there that has been damaged by this kind of review, and it bugs the shit out of me that he wouldn't be able to see through things like that and instead turns them into stereotypes, such as what he appears to be doing here with videogames. Not cool. He's like the Rudolf Arnhiem of our times. I'd expect him to know better.