Cave Paintings Be Art?

By John Walker on April 21st, 2010 at 12:10 pm.

Depiction of event. Not art.

Me Ugg. Me angry ’bout current societal acceptance of cave paintings as art. Art no painting on cave wall. Painting on cave wall practical communication between non-verbal tribal group. Me explain.

Art is poem. Like Ugg’s favourite:

Me hunt deer.
Deer taste nice.

Or art weeing on fire. Or installation pieces. But cave painting no be art because it new and me not fully understand it. It depiction of previous events to record history. How that art? Art be other things. Less new things.

Thank you for listening at Ugg. Ugg go wee on fire now.

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111 Comments »

  1. ShaunCG says:

    ME AM PLAY GOD.

  2. Amqz says:

    Ah yes, another jab at mr. Ebert. But why is everyone so interested in his opinion anyway?

    • abhishek says:

      Honestly, this wave of articles and editorials discrediting Ebert’s opinion seems to be an overreaction to me. It almost feels like overcompensating.

    • Wilson says:

      @Amqz – I imagine it depends. If all your friends like/are open-minded about computer games, then it obviously doesn’t matter. If you don’t care what other people think about your hobbies, it doesn’t matter. But if you do care (you don’t have to be obsessed, but I would think most people care a little bit) then respected individuals like Ebert (who I admit to never having heard of before, but I’m not a big film fan) may persuade people who you will at some point interact with that something you enjoy and value is limited.

      I think this post is poorly written, but basically he might influence some people, and some of those people might have a lower opinion of games and gamers than is really deserved.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      He is a brilliant critic, never afraid to say wether or not he likes something, even when those movies would be trashed by all other critics.

      I think he was named as one of the most influential Americans, recently.

      As for his opinion, grand he does think games can be art. I probably have the same impression of some things myself (Gerald Barry’s “music” and much of modern art)

      Good for him, meaningless to us.

    • John Walker says:

      I think Ebert is brilliant. I disagree with him on the subject of gaming and art. But this post is more about how daft the discussion is, really.

    • dethgar says:

      I think its a bad sign that people don’t get the point of this article. Maybe we deserve to be belittled completely unprovoked.

    • MartinX says:

      I guess it’s because he’s a fairly respected dude with a big audience.

      The response seems largely excessive though, I mean he’s a movie critic, not the art police.

      His opinion changes nothing at all.

      Art is a pretty subjective concept, I don’t think there’s an iso standard for it and if you go back through history you will easily find periods where “traditional” artistic forms were not accepted as such.

      It’s just a thing.

    • subedii says:

      I think Ebert is brilliant. I disagree with him on the subject of gaming and art. But this post is more about how daft the discussion is, really.

      Not to be supercilious, aren’t posts like this just perpetuating that daft discussion?

    • Cunzy1 1 says:

      I promised myself I would post this comment after 15 minutes if I couldn’t come up with a humourous way of highlighting that Ebert is almost Q*bert except with one letter difference and some punctuation.

      If you are reading this then I guess I failed.

    • AlexW says:

      Walker, you think the man’s brilliant? He liked The Happening, and gave Knowing 100%. If a review of that movie isn’t just three paragraphs of sniggering and outright belly laughs, followed by the whispered word “Paedophiles!” it’s not an accurate depiction of that terrible, awful, hilarious movie.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yes, boiling down a man’s contributions down to 2 bad movies he liked is completely rational.

    • panik says:

      He also rejoiced at the bum rape of Indiana Jones with a Crystal Skull.

    • Boldoran says:

      The new Indiana Jones movie is a masterpiece compared to the horribly awful trainwreck of a movie that is knowing.

  3. FatRat says:

    Brilliant.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    Hahaaaaaaa

    The reason computer games are an art whereas cricket/basketball etc. are not is because the creation of games involves creativity, where as in a sport there is extremely limited potential for creativity – is that not very obvious?

    • dethgar says:

      I wouldn’t say that. Sports do require large amounts of creativity, especially when things aren’t going as planned. In a lot of ways, this is the same reason I consider games to be an art form, and maybe even playing them to be. They require spontaneous creativity to achieve an affect. Plus, both are learned skills(the only people that believe good athletes are born and not self-made are the same kind that are eating cheeto’s while browsing the internet), that take practice and discipline. The creation of a sport is as complex as the creation of a top flight video game. Just look at curling, a sport that is becoming more and more popular. Even if it is boring, there is a certain art to it. Basically the short version is that both inspire thought, by those doing and those watching. It’s the kind of deep thought that to me, is the essence of what art is.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      But the purpose of sport isn’t (usually) just to externalise creativity, it’s to compete, exercise, and see who is most skilled at the activity, creativity is usually just one small part of a whole plethora of skills; whereas games, films, etc. that I would consider art are created primarily just as an externalisation of creativity. Of course there are plenty of examples of films and games that aren’t primarily externalisations of creativity, but I wouldn’t consider them art, just a product.

    • dethgar says:

      I can agree with that. There are plenty of games that aren’t art. And I will concede that there are sports that aren’t art. I just think its unfair to throw the “is not art” blanket on sports, or anything for that matter.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Sorry, didn’t mean to sound as though I thought no sport could be art – it’s just that I would consider most current forms of it not to be. Something like ballet is art, at least when it predominantly involves creation.

    • bob_d says:

      Art isn’t just creative, it conveys meaning, it’s a type of discussion, even if it’s just about aesthetics. (In film this “discussion” is not the same as the narrative of the film, or the views of the characters.) Sports don’t (usually) have this extra layer, but certainly can: there are contemporary artists who have done work using sports “as a medium” if you will; their manipulations added an extra layer. In some sense computer games are in a similar situation: most don’t care about conveying meaning in this way, and so, in a way, Ebert is right: these games aren’t art. Ebert’s big mistake is to look at those games, not see art, and assume it’s a condition of games in general, rather than those games in particular.

  5. Langman says:

    There are 3 groups:

    Those that say ‘Games are NOT art! DEAL WITH IT!!’

    Those that say ‘Oh but they are, THEY ARE I TELL YOU!!’

    And those that don’t care either way, they just enjoy playing games.

    ..

    Most pointless non-argument of all time?

    • dethgar says:

      I fall into the 2nd category, but I’m not going to kill myself if someone else has a different opinion. So maybe there is a 4th category, just like there are 4 lights? Personally, I find games to be art and anyone else’s opinion is completely trivial to me.

    • Wulf says:

      I fall into category #4 as well:

      “Art is whatever the hell you think it is. If it’s an act of expression/creativity, it’s beautiful, it moves you, it makes you think, and you decide it’s art… then to you it’s art. Who gives a shit whether anyone else thinks it isn’t? Everyone has their own definition of art, and those things they hold close to them, like shamanistic fetishes, to identify their sense of art to others.”

      One day, we’re all going to understand this, we’ll be able to wander around and examine art as it is to others, to see all fetishes, and accept how imaginative, varied, and magnificent art can be. I all ready do that myself, as you can learn a lot about a person by discovering the things they see as art.

    • bob_d says:

      The problem is that the definition of art is complex enough that hardly anyone outside art school knows what it is (and yes, that definition covers the small sub-category of the Arts known as “Fine Art,” but generally speaking the definition holds for the more super-category as well). There are actual arguments to be made if you know what defines art, beyond “yes it is,” or “no it isn’t.”
      There is a popular usage of “art” to mean something that is good or well done; this is not a useful definition. Art is communicative: meaning is encoded within the object and sometimes the context in which it is found; it may be simply a formal, self-referential message about aesthetics, and the object’s place within that history. The definition is always fuzzy and always changing, because art is defined by the culture, but particularly by institutions within that culture, which themselves are always changing. Art is not a value judgement; whether something is good or bad, emotionally moving or intellectually engaging has no bearing on whether or not it is art. It does. however, have some bearing on whether or not it is *good* art. The intention of the creator is not relevant; something can function as art without having been intended to.

  6. Stromko says:

    A very well reasoned piece, I hope it will finally put this matter to bed. Cave paintings can no more be art than tanned and cut animal hides and natural fibers that we use to protect ourselves from the elements.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s your opinion, yes. But if you can’t accept the possibility of art in cave paintings then you must live in a very small and narrow world… shame, really.

  7. Srejv says:

    It really does matter what canvas you use.

  8. Richard Beer says:

    Actually they’re both art. CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? AND PLEASE SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    I have a lot of respect for Ebert, but the main lesson here is that even someone who is an acknowledged master in his field can make himself look really stupid straying outside his area of expertise. That’s a mistake everyone can learn from.

  9. Tei says:

    Art has this atributes:
    – It could be decorative
    – It could transport a message
    – It could change pre-perceptions of ideas
    – It could make people feel emotions
    – Is created by artist
    – The above is more important than his utilitarian

    On games:

    – [check] It could be decorative
    – [check] It could transport a message
    – [check] It could change pre-perceptions of ideas
    – [check] It could make people feel emotions
    – [check] Is created by artist
    – [???] The above is more important than his utilitarian value

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Problem with those statement is mostly the definition of an artist. If you say “the guy who makes art” we’re on for a conundrum.

  10. Ian says:

    Roger Ebert isn’t art.

    There, I said it.

  11. Gap Gen says:

    I think Ebert’s opinion raises ire because of his status in the media. He’s a respected film critic, and his foray into criticising a medium that he has no experience of, nor any interest in exploring to any extent, is worrying because it may well provide fuel for arguments in news outlets that hold a less than favourable view of gaming.

    The biggest problem with Ebert’s argument is that he knows nothing about games, and yet seeks to criticise them. He’s like the Creationist physicist trying to disprove evolution, or the oil engineer publishing papers trying to disprove anthropogenic climate change. It’s intellectually dishonest and closed-minded. There’s nothing wrong with stating opinions about subjects that you are not an expert in (so if it’s good science, then an oil engineer can by all means submit papers on climate science) but maintaining the level of honesty that says “I can’t really comment authoritatively because I haven’t played many games, but…” is crucial.

    Personally, I like art games. I also like games where you throw many bullets into the faces of your hated enemy. I suspect Ebert is the same with films (I gather he liked Avatar?). Penny Arcade is on the money, no doubt, with the comment that we’ll surely find something to hate about what the youth of 50 years’ time find to do, but I hope that I’ll at least have the good grace to realise what it is I’m doing as I spout baseless comments about a medium I have no experience with.

  12. Grunt says:

    Ooga-booga. Me think Ugg shoud go see um collection of dead things me made with club. Is Grunts commentary on futility of war with other tribes. Also lunch.

    • Rich says:

      Me chop up big cow beast and put in water. Me artist now.
      Me second works is unmade patch of straw me sleep on. Me deserve Turner prize.

      Also me object to being called ork.

    • Grunt says:

      Me thinks me saw your pieces on Ugg’s regular website: Rock, Rock, Rock. Apparently they been critiquing Cave Art since 1874 BC.

      Then me ate your piece. Grunt sorry.

  13. Feste says:

    I think Ugg’s had the most pithy response about this I’ve seen yet, will he be a regular RPS contributor? I also look forward to a future poetry collection of his.

  14. Rick says:

    Ron Gilbert’s response to Ebert is the best I’ve seen so far.

  15. Schmung says:

    We’re still talking about this? Really?

    Does anyone actually give a monkeys?

  16. Rob Lang says:

    Games are art, thinking otherwise is generational snobbery. Time always proves people like this wrong.

  17. Vague-rant says:

    The only way this debate would be productive is if there was some kind of tax dodge existed. Like the jaffa cakes, “Is it a cake is it a biscuit” thing.

    Perhaps, with the introduction of tax breaks for games developers, we’ll see an influx of “artists” claim their works are games…

  18. Clovis says:

    I don’t think Roger Ebert, or any other non-gamers, will think that games are art in their lifetimes. I think art usually builds on itself and communicates through an historical “language”. I can accept that I can’t completely understand a piece of abstract art because it I’m not that familiar with art in general. I don’t really understand form, composition, etc. I can’t look at a particular piece and say, “Oh, hey, that’s like , or that’s commenting on “. I can still enjoy it, but I’d probably get more out of it if I’d study the subject.

    So, the problem is that as video games become “better” art they will probably heavily rely on having a basic understanding of video games. Braid is a perfect example. Ebert’s understanding of Braid was as accurate as Soulja Boy’s. Even if Ebert actually played the game a bit, he still wouldn’t get it. He’d still think you are “just taking back a move*.” But any gamer who has played platformers immediately understands the basic concept. If Braid does have a real artistic message, it is conveyed through an understanding of that mechanic, not the mediochre text in the books.

    * It is annoying that Ebert didn’t understand that the time mechanics were required to WIN the game. Not just to fix mistakes.

  19. Dreamhacker says:

    When artists cannot agree on the definition of art itself, how can journos decide what is art and what isn’t?

    • Rich says:

      Sod it! If you can’t measure something quantitatively, it isn’t real anyway.

    • Wulf says:

      @Rich

      Does that also count for love? I just feel that our approach for trying to quantify some things at the moment is perhaps a bit wrong, due to the almost pi-like complexity of them, and in my opinion that includes art and love, but I wouldn’t say that neither is real.

  20. robrob says:

    It’s 1993 again!

  21. drew says:

    What it boils down to:
    Computer games are valid as an art medium. We just haven’t seen a game that is an example of good or worthwhile or meaningful art yet (though imo I’m not too sure we will either, but I won’t go into that and it’s certainly possible).

  22. The Sombrero Kid says:

    “Art isn’t art so how can anything else be.”

    The Art Paradox by The Sombrero Kid.

  23. Janlengben says:

    Thanks for summing that up for us John, made my day.

  24. CapitanObviouso says:

    Will someone just sit his ass in front of a game and convince him to play it instead of sending him youtube trailers of gameplay, screenshots, and text descriptions and articles?

    Gameplay is something you experience not read about.

  25. Ybfelix says:

    Any non-video game been claimed to be art yet?

  26. Rich says:

    Which games does the hive mind think are art?

    VVVVVV or something like ‘I Fell in Love with the Majesty of Colors’? The second of those seems to aim for it.

    Is it in anyway possible to consider the likes of Modern Warfare 2, as art?

    • aDelicateBalance says:

      If something contains art, then surely it is art, at least in part. Since MW2 contains lots and lots of artwork – textures, models, sounds, etc – inarguably art. I’d love someone to try to argue that someone employed as an “artist” is not producing art.

      When I look at a screenshot from a game like Just Cause 2 or the original Monkey Island, does my eye not perceive fine works of art? Images (at the very least) which have been finely crafted to portray a certain atmosphere to an audience. The artists have used their medium with exquisite ability in each example – in the former squeezing an entire archipelago’s worth of detail into 4-5GB and in the latter working with every pixel in the limited resolution and colour palette of the day to create environments that sucked you in, despite their pixelly facade.

      What prevents these games (say) from being called art? Well, let’s look at it this way – Ebert says films are art, but games are not and cannot be, because of their structure. Ebert gives examples such as “you can win a game, you can’t win a film” even though this is not always the case – you cannot “win” Sim City or Microsoft Flight Sim X (unless you’re metagaming of course).

      Nevertheless, following this argument, the distinction between art and not-art comes down to the interactive nature of a game, because that is all which separates a game from a film, at the most basic level.

      You can’t interact with a film, but you can (and are expected to) interact with a game. By this logic, if I FRAPS footage of me playing a game, this (since it lacks interaction) could count as art, but the game itself is not! It really makes no sense whatsoever to argue that adding something (interaction) to an existing medium that is regarded as (good or bad) art could make it not-art.

      Surely
      art + x != !art
      art + x = art++

      Art++ is pretty much what I see games as and hope they continue to flourish into the dominant medium of the 21st century.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Really depends on how you define art, doesn’t it?

      There seems to be two incompatible definitions being used; the definition used by those who like their terms to be empirically verifiable and define art as “something with no practical use in human life/existence,” (I’ve got some sympathy with this one. It at least allows us to decide one way or the other, and to say conclusively that X is indeed art, and that X is art is GODDAM FACT. On the other hand, it’s an utterly terrible definition, as things are defined as art which don’t really seem to be art at all. I’ll leave that to your imagination);

      The one used by Ebert which goes for the traditional “something which makes us become more or less complex, thoughtful, insightful, witty, empathetic, intelligent, philosophical (and so on) by experiencing [it]“(makes us feel or think. Note that I’ve gathered this from what Ebert has written. I can’t actually find him defining art in any of the articles I’ve read, except for separating ‘art’ from ‘high art’, which doesn’t help matters much. To be honest, if I was reading a philosophy paper about art which didn’t define or at least discuss defining the term in the very first paragraph I’d put it down, because you won’t cover any ground that way. Regardless, onwards).

      The ‘controversy’ is pathetic because we can clearly see Ebert’s definition is hopelessly subjective – it calls for a value judgement by it’s very wording. Seeing as we can’t ever provide evidence one way or the other in that kind of realm, the best Ebert can hope to say is “games are not art to me, and here’s why.” As such, it’s of limited use as an argument, especially when we consider Ebert’s background with games.

      PS:
      There’s a supplementary criterion Ebert uses along with the quote above by way of definition, which we might as well consider.

      “I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist.”
      Doesn’t seem quite right to me. The way we experience a work will always be personal to us, in the same way that the way we experience anything is personal to us. While the finished film, sculpture or painting is a cohesive and complete, we won’t be able to experience it in the same way as the man standing next to us, who is deeply affected by the piece’s gentle melancholy and is put in mind of that summer 32 years ago when he loved and lost on the hills of Montbéliard.

      The point being, subsequent to creation, the artist has no control over how his audience experience the work. The ‘interactive’ nature of games is, quite frankly, no different.

    • bob_d says:

      @Lilliput King:
      Yeah, it’s funny, Ebert’s notion of art seems to go back to the 1950s and Abstract Expressionism; that art is about The Artist’s Vision and Self-Expression, encapsulated in a discrete object/experience. Ironically, the world of fine arts got over that idea about 50 years ago. Beyond that problem, Ebert seems to also have a strange idea about what games are capable of doing and where art can reside. Ebert talks about games as if the player can do anything with them; as if the game was some parallel reality that gamers access through the computer, rather than a system that provides a discreet set of rules determining what sorts of actions and experiences the player has with the game. Ebert seems to think that art can only reside in “content” and (pre-determined) “experience” which can, indeed, change for each player of a game. For games, the art must reside in the system, however, and if Ebert read some contemporary art magazines, he’d see artists working with systems as they have for some decades.

  27. the wiseass says:

    Please tell me Ugg will be hired as regular writer, please!

  28. Smokingkipper says:

    In soviet Russia…

  29. CavemanofDOOM says:

    Stop wee on fire, Ugg. Smell worse than dead mastodon. Make me want wee on Ugg’s not art paintings.

  30. armlesscorps says:

    Cant resist the urge to comment even though I dont really like the “are video games art” debate. Roger Ebert doesnt play video games (to my knowledge) , in his article on video games he hadnt played any of the games he mentioned yet he still felt he could comment that they werent going to have any effect on his emotions when he did.
    Why do we care about his opinion on video games again?

    • Wulf says:

      Whenever I see him argue about games, I’m reminded of this one bloke I knew in art class back in college because of how similar he was. For some reason he’d insist that sculptures aren’t art. He didn’t like doing sculptures, he hadn’t viewed many, and his reason was that you can’t view sculptures from all angles at once, so they can’t make an immediate impact, and therefore there’s no possible way they can be art.

      Ebert’s argument reminds me so much of that, so much.

      Now, I’ve seen sculptures and games that could be art, and I would never try to deny their existence. If I were to do so I’d just be living a sheltered life, refusing to experience everything that’s out there, but I suppose it’s because I was willing to look at games and sculptures. I think that any person might see art in games, if they’re willing to give games a proper look.

  31. MultiVaC says:

    It might not seem like it really matters to us weather or not games are considered art by mainstream society, but the perception of games being somehow “lesser” than movies, music, literature, etc. is a key point that’s is brought up in debates over things like Australia’s R18+ rating. There is a belief that games aren’t a valid form of expression or that the medium as a whole is childish, and is for kids or socially inept young men. It’s not just Roger Ebert who claims that games are not art; these things are also said by powerful lawmakers who are backed by legions of clueless voters who have never heard of games called “Braid” or “Planescape: Torment” but are really concerned about hooker murdering simulators and that Satan-worship game that the Columbine kids loved so much.

  32. Rick says:

    Grim Fandango[/argument]

  33. R Clifford says:

    There’s an unpleasant tone to this article, and others written elsewhere, regarding Roger Ebert. He’s hardly gunning for the industry and has to my understanding only ever written a couple of articles on the matter over the years. Yet we’re vilifying him.

    I just read the article that kicked off the latest barrage. I thought it was actually quite an interesting point of view whether one agrees or not, and it helps illuminate the generational perspective on games. That is surely helpful to both parties.

    I not sure I can quite articulate why, but the responses to him have really left me melancholy.

    • dethgar says:

      The entire point of this article is that the entire discussion is both blown out of proportion and largely unimportant.

    • aDelicateBalance says:

      I read the article too, and watched the talk he based it on. Certainly the reason why I care (or not – and I do) about Ebert’s opinion is because a lot of people do listen to what he has to say. It doesn’t matter to me that he’s perhaps “not said a lot” on the subject of videogames and art. It doesn’t offend me in any way, that he has an opinion about them, but I would prefer it, in general, if people who know nothing about a subject area, particularly those with a relatively powerful voice, either educate themselves (even just a little) about the subject in question or, frankly, stick a sock in it until they can.

      Of course I wouldn’t want to put people off asking questions but it doesn’t really matter to me whether it’s Ebert talking about videogames or Jenny McCarthy talking about childhood vaccinations causing autism – neither of them are in any way qualified to be spewing their opnions on these subjects and expecting to be taken in any way seriously and yet that is exactly what they do expect (and will get) and not in small part becaues of their celebrity status, this opinion will be much more widely and highly regarded than that of someone who really does know their field – (e.g.) any of the RPS guys or Tim Ingham, when it comes to games.

      It’s an obvious fallacy, but I guess a lot of people would rather just lap up bullshit from someone they “know” than consider a good argument from an expert in a field they have never heard of.

      So to conclude – those who know nothing… should say nothing. When it comes to Ebert and videogames, he knows nothing.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t have a problem with Ebert so much as the way he represents his argument. Search for sculpture and read what I said above. The problem is… I’ll provide a comparison:

      What I wouldn’t have had a problem with: I’ve played games and I’ve not yet encountered one that I’ve found art in, this isn’t to say that games can’t be art, but simply that I haven’t perceived art in games yet, and I’m more than willing to look.

      That’s not Ebert’s argument.

      What I do have a problem with: Games can never be art! If you think they are then you are WRAAAUUNG! My perceptions are factual and the only worthwhile ones! You are all serfs, listen to me! I’ve never really played any games, no, but I’m telling you factually from my point of inexperience that they can’t ever be art, and if you think they’re art then you’re below me, serf! RAAAAR!

      This I do take umbrage with.

      I think you might be able to understand now why I don’t like Ebert’s argument, maybe…

  34. Lilliput King says:

    “If games ARE art, does that mean artworks are games? I don’t know how you get a hiscore on Michelangelo’s David, but I want to see someone try. Maybe record it for later.”

    …What?

    If rabbits are animals, does that mean animals are rabbits?

    This way of thinking clearly has much to teach us.

  35. bwion says:

    I don’t know if games are art or not. I do know that I largely get the same things out of playing games that I do out of reading books, watching films and television, listening to music, looking at pictures, etc. So if any of those things are art, games might as well be too.

    Besides, as far as I’m concerned, all art is participatory. Art is, in fact, the act of participation; art isn’t the painting, it’s the thing that happens when someone looks at the painting and forms a response (internal or external) to it.. So, by that definition (which, like all definitions of art, is highly subjective and personal), why wouldn’t games be art?

  36. Oozo says:

    I respect this guy, I respect his writing on film. Read a lot about it, online and in book-form. Still, I can’t help wondering why he choose this specific fight – I mean, he seems to get more and more mild in his judgement on film, so his aggressive take on games is all the more stupendous.
    (I do care, simply because I think highly of him and can’t figure out that paradox – how can a liberal and open-minded critic of one medium be that narrow-minded in another one? There’s a lesson to be learned there, I think. Or maybe he just likes to piss off people and has figured out that gamers seem to be a nice target for it. The man deserves his grumpy ol’ man-days, even though I wished he would be grumpy in his own back-yard, or any place else where nobody could hear him shout. Nobody who doesn’t know better, anyway.)

    Funny thing:
    Back in the day, Mr Ebert wouldn’t even shy back of writing a review of a video-game (shock) for Wired-magazin! And even a favourable one at that.
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.09/streetcred.html
    Nobody seems to remeber, though. Not even himself.

    • edosan says:

      Yes, he reviewed it and he liked it. I bet he’d say that doesn’t make it art though.

      That’s why I don’t understand why everyone’s so up in arms about this. He didn’t say video games are bad or that they’re corrupting our children or anything. There wasn’t really any value judgment in his articles.

    • godwin says:

      Exactly, it’s as if games SHOULD be art, somehow, but nobody can point out WHY exactly; nobody can point out what constitutes art. Everything is subjective, let’s just leave it at that. He’s one man with an opinion. If your opinion differed to begin with, you wouldn’t find yourself suddenly accommodating his view.

  37. Rosti says:

    Games Journalism is Art, See Above.

  38. jalf says:

    As long as no two people on the planet can agree on what art *is*, I think the discussion is meaningless. But not as meaningless as statements like “games can never be art”.

  39. The Great Wayne says:

    Hmmmm, the old philosophical debate about what is art. I kinda wonder how Ebert could still want to put the toe into this one, especially talking about a phenomenon that is new enough so that we have almost no cultural perspective on it.

    Imho, while it’s true that the modern concept of art lies mostly in the eye of the observator, one should wonder what’s the function of it. As everything in human development art must have had, at one point and therefore could still have, a practical use to our development as sentient, social and sensitive beings. Answering a precise need by this function (to each his own definition, I got my own) is what makes something art imho, and because of that you can find art in many more ways than usually advocated.

    In the same way, I think there are “arts” where not everyone is an artist. There are painters who are deploying amazing skills and techniques in their craft, but will never produce a piece of art. They’re artisans and not artists, and I say that in a not-pejorative way. I myself find more art in a Willendorf venus than in the Mona Lisa, for example, but the Mona Lisa is a feat of technique worthy of a genius.

    Because of that, not every game is art, but it’s a perfectly viable support. Thinking that something can’t be art because you have to “act” in it following a set of rules is completely dull, because every time you’re put in front of a piece of art that’s exactly what you’re doing. Interpreting it with your own references while guided by the artist vision and the sociological boundaries.

    Nobody’s staying idle in front of art, and therefore Ebert should not expect art to be defined by weither or not you’ve to involve in it to get its point. Winning is irrelevant most of the time, as we’re now used to it and the road is, most of the time, more important than the goal in nowadays gaming.

  40. Schmitzkater says:

    Heh, actually had a decent chuckle at that one.

  41. Scoopsy says:

    I propose we conflate this into the biggest kerfluffle in RPS history.

    “IS PIRACY ART?”

  42. Pow says:

    It’s hard to take a medium seriously as being art when people give them ratings.
    Like film.

  43. Wulf says:

    @LP

    I was thinking the same thing, pretty much. For the sake of curiosity, my brain tried to make all animals into rabbits, about this time something in my brain went *CRUNK!* and I’m afraid to try any more. I’m also mildly disappointed in myself. *coughs.*

    But yes, you do make a fantastic point.

  44. Antsy says:

    Its only a matter of time before Damien Hirst puts a bejewelled turd on display at the Tate Modern. Or Tracy Emin’s pube encrusted dildo. That’s art….apparently.

    Not games though, nosir. Although some guy sitting on a sofa playing Sonic in his underpants is, if said sofa is on display in the Tate and he gives himself a preposterous and oblique name that sounds like it means something. You know, so tossers can smirk and nod to themselves because it speaks to them

  45. DMJ says:

    Cave painting corrupt tribe children.

    Thog clan kid bash Ugg clan kid. Must be new cave painting fault.

    Blame new cave painting “Vague Figures Wave Sticks At Blurry Outline That Looks A Bit Like An Antelope”.

  46. Network Crayon says:

    Well by now it looks like my opinion is probably not really relevant, enough other people have said similar things already.

    I dont really think video games are ‘art’
    but then I dont really think comics or cartoons
    fall under ‘art’, art is something that exists for its
    own sake, seperate from everything else.

    Video games arn’t like that, theyre entertainment.
    but dont get me wrong, theres TONS of art in video games,
    but it constists of beautiful moments and details Within a game,
    not the game itself,

    Personally i am in the video games Are art camp,
    but the artful parts of a game, are never the entirety of the game.

    And if games were completely artistic, would you really wanna
    play through the MMO version of
    tracy emin’s unmade bed?

  47. Bassism says:

    This debate reminds me of photography in the early twentieth century, when Kodak came out with a camera that every regular Joe with a buck could afford and carry around. The purists said these people could never make or understand art, and retreated to make art with the large format cameras and albumen prints.
    Now we look back and find brilliance in the work of amateurs and consider the ‘artists’ of the time to have been stuffy, ridiculous, and boring.

    My own problem with Ebert simply lies in the way he makes his argument. He doesn’t give a satisfactory definition of art before claiming that games are not art (note: nobody in the history of the world has given a satisfactory definition of art, even those who have spent years of grad school writing about what art it). In the same paragraph as he claims various games that have been hailed as art are not so, he mentions that he hasn’t played them.

    Suppose I submitted a paper for a music class about how the Beatles didn’t produce art because they only used three chords per song, which I’d verified by listening to the 30 second samples on itunes, and those praising the song structure of the Beatles as brilliant were surely wrong. Suppose I went on to argue that this “rock” music could never be art because it doesn’t invite an intellectual response coupled with emotion from the listener like the great masters.
    I would fail, horribly. And not because I wrote that the Beatles weren’t art.

  48. Bassism says:

    Oh, forgot to mention that I think Ugg’s commentary is quite insightful.

    • Network Crayon says:

      Why isn’t Ugg covering the election?
      (because its boring?)

    • NotDes says:

      Ugg talk UK election.

      Yellow tie man say he bring change. Blue tie man say he bring change. Red tie man say he bring change.

      No tie man agree on what change best. All tie man say same words many times. News people get shiny pennies. Cave people told choose best tie and paint on paper. Cave people not know what do. Ugg not know what paper is. Cave people watch picture box for know what do. Ugg wishes Ugg had pretty tie. Ugg bored. Ugg want play TF2.

      … Ugg Steam no work. UGG SMASH!