Part 1: It’s really not that insulting if Ebert doesn’t consider something to be “art”
As you may be aware, there has been a bit of a debate the past few years between video game nerds and Roger Ebert regarding whether or not video games can be considered art. It seems the battle was rather painful for a lot of the pencil necks because they previously had some sort of respect for Roger Ebert that they feel has now been somehow betrayed. From the beginning, Ebert only vaguely described his criteria for achieving “art” status and he gave very few examples of what sorts of things do qualify as art. He thinks of video games in the same way that he thinks of football, tennis, checkers, and Clue. In other words, he sees them as games. But that makes sense, at least from a certain perspective.
Ebert really isn’t is a snob, either. This is a guy that enthusiastically recommended the lowbrow comedy Kingpin so I don’t think you can call him an elitist, at least within cinema. However, I imagine that within his definition he probably wouldn’t call Kingpin art. My point is, I doubt that Ebert believes that only high art is worth anyone’s time. Most recently, Ebert admitted he shouldn’t have opened his mouth about video games and that he wasn’t truly qualified to make some of the judgments he made but that he stood by others, etc. etc. Naturally, the nerds rejoiced as if they had won some great battle.
Part 2: Video game critics think God of War is art (LOL)
The saddest part of this epic is that so many of the writers that so righteously defended video games from Ebert are the same people that give such excellent reviews to soulless stinkers like Halo, God of War, and Call of Duty (I picked these examples because I hate them in every way available to me and don’t find them fun or well-designed in the least but they are indeed quite popular). These are basically mindless franchise games that involve running around and destroying everything in sight. They do not make any real statements or emotional connections with the player. However, a lot of people think these games are fun. And ultimately, reviewers are only basing their reviews on a game’s fun level and production values. That’s fine and dandy, but they prove that they are not looking at the world, media, product and art the same way a typical film reviewer would. Giving God of War a 9 out of 10 would be the equivalent of Ebert giving Transformers **** (<—that’s supposed to be four stars). It’s just not going to happen. Mindless, soulless crap usually doesn’t earn widespread critical acclaim in the film world. In the world of video games, mindless, soulless crap gets great reviews all the time as long as it appeals to the fanboy writers between 25 and 35 that work for sites like IGN and Gamespot.
Was there a point to this post? Probably not. Just remember, in the year 2010, video game critics are complete fanboys that look at video games as games and grade them accordingly but then become enraged when an outsider also looks at video games as games and grades them accordingly.