Hitting Its Targets: The First-Person Observer

New Black Box Recorder! Go to their MySpace! DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD? HOW ABOUT EUTHANASIA. I love them so.

Since it’s been pointed out by a whole load of people, I was going to Sunday Papers this, but it’s just too good to bury. While not the funniest thing I read about videogames today, The First Person Observer left me with considerably more goodwill towards my fellow humans. The Onion model of satire on videogames has been tried before, of course… but rarely has it hit its targets this well. Even all the headlines made me at least smirk, which is more than The Onion has managed for years. The work of Christopher Livingston, I suggest you read it with your eyes and comprehend it with your mind, via this link. Or, if you prefer, this one. But not this.

101 Comments

  1. Ygtdf says:

    Great site. The comments are just as awesome as the articles.

  2. Miker says:

    God bless Christopher Livingston. I’m still a bigger fan of First-Person Shouter (and 1Fort!) than the First-Person Observer, but it’s still fantastic writing nonetheless. Then again, FPO has been around for about a day, so I’ll give it some time.

  3. john says:

    I wonder what it is that drives Roger to keep harping on that topic. He obviously doesn’t play games or have much of an appreciation towards them. And out of every possible argument someone can choose to make about games, that particular one is one of the least interesting, productive, or relevant.

    • dethgar says:

      I don’t think he truly has a personal understanding of what art is, or even means for that matter. Reading his article was like watching Fox News channel. Full of self-contradictions and absolute arrogant smugness, elitism if you will.

      I gotta agree here, the total article was irrelevant. He not only failed to make any true point, but he showed that he isn’t willing to open his mind to new ideas.

    • 1stGear says:

      His basic argument is that games aren’t art because the viewer is actually involved in them. Clearly, art should only ever be held at arm’s length.

      Stick to movies, Roger.

    • Lewis says:

      Games critics have a lot to learn from the likes of Ebert. The likes of Ebert have a lot to learn from games critics too, but it’s probably less relevant for them to keep up. Can we leave it at that?

    • DMcCool says:

      The man is just an idiot, thats all, writing articles that play up to people’s prejudices. Gotta make a living somehow I guess (actually I confess I have no idea what he actually does, nor care)
      Anyway, always an oppertunity to link to this link to escapistmagazine.com Rohrer basically ending the arguement.

    • Lewis says:

      DMcCool: He’s probably the world’s leading authority in film criticism and a damn fine journalist to boot.

    • Langman says:

      Yeah, but Ebert gave ‘Knowing’ – the Nicolas Cage abortion of a film – 4 stars out of 4.

      So it seems he still has a bit to learn about film-reviewing too.

    • DMcCool says:

      Wow. Just goes to show then, doesn’t it? This is just what old media vs new media prejudices do. I guess his gleeful ignorance of what the art-form of gaming is actually about is a sort of feel good moment for games journalists. Sorry if I seem bitter, its just exactly this sort of dark elitism that makes me have to grimace every time I explain to someone my life’s passion. It coming from the most respected voices in other media’s journalism is both depressing and exciting in that childish punk-rock sort of way, though. I kind of feel that as long as Ebert says what I want to do with my life isn’t art, its probably worth doing. Man.

    • Gunhover says:

      Where he really lets himself down is when he drops the pretence and blurts out his underlying thought – “games are pathetic”. To dismiss an entire form of media, let alone one so broadly diverse as games are, is obviously ridiculous.

      The whole article just reeks of elitism, intellectual masturbation and ignorance to me. I’m disappointed in Ebert, but not entirely surprised.

      Ultimately, if he is unable to take any enjoyment from a single game out there, then we should feel sorry for him; he is has and will miss out on many great experiences.

    • qrter says:

      He shouldn’t have made such a silly statement on games, it was more than a bit embarrassing.

      But I agree with Denby, he is a great film critic. (And that doesn’t mean he should always give the films you personally like/dislike the corresponding scores.)

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      I just find it amazing that an early proponent of films being art when most considered it wasn’t can’t see the irony of this situation…

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      For those of you harping on Ebert: leave him alone, he’s a fantastic journalist (as several people have already mentioned) and by far the best film critic in America at the moment. So he has juvenile or ignorant ideas about video games: fine. Maybe for him it is the distance of film, it’s objectivity and its grandeur, that inspires the shared experiences we call “art”, not the thrill or immediacy of interaction. So what? He’s something of a snob about it, but so were theater critics to film people, and poets to novelists, and painters to calligraphers, and so on and so forth for all of history. I enjoy my Shakespeare as much as my Scorsese, and my Picasso as much as my Portal — but I don’t get what people see in opera. Does that make me a philistine, or just inspired by different things?

      (Well, probably it makes me not-bourgeois, but that’s besides the point.)

    • dethgar says:

      When did Ebert become a journalist? A critique is not a journalist. A critique gives opinion and advice. A journalist presents news and facts. Unless he does work as a legit journalist, he’s just a guy with a degree in journalism that writes opinionated columns.

    • dethgar says:

      Bah, I meant critic, not critique…damn grammar.

    • SofS says:

      @dethgar

      Ebert partly made his name on being quite good at interviewing and writing about people in film, giving insight into how their lives influence their work. I’m not sure if you’d consider that journalism, but I think it counts.

  4. qrter says:

    “Even all the headlines made me at least smirk, which is more than The Onion has managed for years.”

    Seems a bit overly harsh.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Well, they gave me a bad review last week.

      More seriously, I meant “It’s been years since the whole of the onion front page was good enough to make me smirk”. They’ve been hit and miss, at least for me.

      KG

    • Lack_26 says:

      I find the videos are generally more hit than miss though.

    • Auspex says:

      Here’s a snippet from said bad review in case anyone else was curious.

      “Weighed down by ridiculous dialogue (“What is that?” “Sounds like The Gossip.” “I love The Gossip! We must dance.”) as stiff and plastic as the artwork…”
      link to avclub.com

      Just think back to the days you’d have been delighted to have your stuff reviewed at all Kieron…

    • qrter says:

      Well, they gave me a bad review last week.

      Ha! Good for you, for owning up to that one. :)

      But to be fair to The Onion, most of the headlines on that First Person Observer site didn’t make me smile, most of them seem very obvious. Still, first few days, give it a chance to grow, personal taste, etc.

      (Just to finish – to be completely anal, although The A.V. Club came forth out of The Onion, they have very little to do with them these days.)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Auspex: Nah, I’m always happy to be reviewed, good or bad. Singles Club reviewed ludicrously well, generally speaking. Can’t win ’em all.

      I do wish they hadn’t quoted that bit, just because I’d have taken the review more seriously without it. Accuse me of Stiff Dialogue and I’ll nod and think about it. Accuse me of stiff dialogue then quoting a character who’s foreign and speaking in broken English to prove it, just makes me think you’re either dim (Not realising a character’s not a native English speaker) or malicious (Having an opinion, and choosing an unfair example to prove it, which you’re fully aware isn’t applicable) , and either way I can dismiss you. Which I don’t particularly like doing.

      KG

  5. bleeters says:

    “Commander Shepard could not be reached for comment, as she had once again placed her primary mission on hold to share a bottle of brandy with her ship’s doctor”

    That was embarassingly one of my favourite moments :(

    To Joker!

  6. Name says:

    link to joystiq.com

    and this ladies and gents, is reality

  7. Plinglebob says:

    Thank you RPS for pointing this site out to me. Its always good to find websites, comic or otherwise, where the comments thred continues (or starts) the running joke.

  8. Jaz says:

    Ebert didn’t actually play any of the games he critiqued there. “From the box blurb and this other guy’s review, I can say this movie probably sucks.”

    Chris Livingston is much nicer than Yahtzee, to boot. Yahtzee is probably much nicer than Yahtzee, actually.

    • Mr_Day says:

      I did try to read Ebert’s column.

      But I must have gotten a bit confused. He claims that Kellee is wrong for believing games will evolve into an artform, but just one paragraph earlier had covered his arse by claiming they might manage it anyway. Probably not, but might.

      I have to wonder, do film-makers actually despise games as much as film critics do? And why does the argument always come down to “but yours is silly and pointless” anyway.

      Half the arguments levelled at gaming you could level at films or television, which manage to be just as mindless and exploitative of controversy for the sake of entertainment. I could get really angry, but I realised that the argument would become “my chosen method of fantasy bullshit is less childish than yours. Discuss!”

      Reading that back, I sound like a dick. Oh well.

    • Wulf says:

      Not to me. Actually, my mind summed that up as: “Everyone likes what they like, there is no solid argument for X being better than Y, even the attempt is dickish, and thus acclaimed and opinionated critics are fairly damned useless, anyway, generally speaking.”

      That actually seems pretty fair, to me, since I get most of my opinions from average joes who run blogs or hang around comments threads.

    • Wulf says:

      I also want to add that it’s my feeling that there is no ultimate opinion, it doesn’t belong to anyone because it doesn’t exist. That’s why a good sampling of opinions is usually the best way to go, listening to a lot of people can often provide clearer results than one hoity wordsmith.

      In fact, in this–the era of the Internet, such critics are pretty much dinosaurs since their opinions have to compete with the opinions of everyone else out there, they can’t attribute quite the same level of importance to them as they used to be able to, and they too can be easily critiqued in return.

      So I don’t give much stock to the likes of Ebert, really, for he is but one voice amongst many, and he’s not saying things that I find particularly interesting. I’m sure some will find him interesting, and some will find others to listen to, but again, welcome to the Internet (which is pretty much the great equaliser). People listen to whom they wish to listen to, and these days, it’s actually true that everyone’s a critic. It’s no longer a special thing to be.

      I’m reminded of that Frank Turner quote from a bit back: “Because there’s no such thing as rock stars / there’s just people who play music / and some of them are just like us / and some of them are dicks.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Somebody a little further down does say words to the effect of “art is subjective” and I find myself being quite happy with that assessment.

      I can’t remember who he was quoting, I’ll try to look it up before I hit reply, but Clarkson said he was told that cars could never be art because they have a purpose, and art can serve nothing but itself. If we accepted that as a vague, catch all as art definition, we might be happier with our chosen passtimes (and regardless of acceptance, both films and gaming are entertaining distractions) – but that does mean masturbating is artistic.

      See, I have lowered the tone, I’ll shut up.

  9. Jimbo says:

    In his introduction on First Person Shouter, Chris mentions he’s having the most fun writing the Observer that he’s had since writing Concerned. I totally understand and support his habit of starting and abandoning various projects, but hopefully him having fun means the Observer will be around for some time. Yes.

  10. Lack_26 says:

    I really hope he manages to keep this updated. It’s good to see everyone keeping it up in the comments as well.

  11. Steelfists says:

    A comment on the article on Roger Ebert’s site:

    ” I’ve even heard people say that art has to be controversial to be artistic. This is rot. (Worse, it’s rot imported from the UK, where they think nothing is of any value if it isn’t delivered with a revoltingly arrogant smirk.)”

    O_O

    Wow. The Great Ebert sure attracts some strange people.

    Anyway, fuck you Charlene.

    • James G says:

      Ahh yes, I was just switching tabs back here to post that one. Utterly bizarre, makes me tempted to come up with my own irrational xenophobia.

      Bah! Just like the Norwegians, who wont praise a film unless they were allowed to torture the person sat next to them with a combination of wood ants, honey, and rabid badgers!

  12. negativedge says:

    The headlines are cute, but the writing is awful. Couldn’t stomach a full story.

    • Bret says:

      You may be a good and decent person in day to day life.

      That does not change the fact that here, you are dumb. Also wrong.

      Also, comments at the Observer are generally fun. People take things in the right spirit and such.

    • negativedge says:

      People like to accuse those that know more than they do of being stupid, because it makes them feel better. I’m a writer. Those articles are poorly written. Satire must be well written or it is pointless.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Well yes it WOULD appear poorly written if you have no sense of humor.

      Or maybe you’re secretly Roger Ebert?

    • dhex says:

      eh, they’re definitely kinda oh ho ho ho overall. “did you know the economies of rpgs are ridiculous?”

      i know ebert punches all the nerd rage buttons but for a guy who is 3/4ths dead he does seem to be at least giving it an honest go.

    • qrter says:

      How well something is written (or not) has nothing to do with anyone’s sense of humour.

      Personally I think the humour seems a bit too obvious (and therefore pretty dull) to me – so you may now accuse me of having no sense of humour.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      negativedge: You know who never makes “I’m a writer – I know what’s badly written” statements of authority on the Internet?

      Writers.

      KG

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Come to think of it, it’s more likely he’s an editor.

      Personal experience: Editing is super easy, writing is HARD.

    • negativedge says:

      Well KG, most of them don’t make that claim because they, like you, are actually poor writers that can’t tell the difference. Luckily you can all band against Roger Ebert in your idiocy while being contracted to shovel out third rate comic books.

      Hey look, I can be snippy too.

    • Bret says:

      And yet, you can’t be snippy well enough to convince me you’re, you know, a good writer.

      Such is life.

  13. h4plo says:

    ““He threw one grenade but dropped, like, twenty N-Bombs,” he added.”

    …hahahha

  14. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    give ebert a break will you, he’s old, old people will never truly get this stuff like us younger folks do. they’ll never understand us with our skateboards our ex-boxes, and that hip-hop music.

  15. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    it’s like when your grandpa says “rap isn’t music, it’s just a bunch of monkeys hollering!” and you’re like “oh grandpa, you and your racism.” and shake your head knowingly.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I know what you’re getting at, but rap hasn’t actually been any good since the late 80’s.

      You know, when you had to be able to rhyme. Freestyle, yo.

      Seriously. Making up words does not count.

  16. Tauers says:

    “Waco Resurrection” may indeed be a great game, but as potential art it still hasn’t reached the level of chicken scratches

    This can`t be serious … lol

  17. Dzamir says:

    I tried the last link and it didn’t worked :'(

  18. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Roger Ebert article is in my opinion very well written. As is usual of him. And he offers a strong and much better defended opinion than that of those in here calling him an idiot. The fact he explains and defends his opinion already makes him a winner in the face of everyone else preferring to call him an idiot.

    I’m, however, biased. It just so happens I agree with him entirely. Games aren’t art. I could never fully qualify a game as an art form. No matter what game I played to this date, no matter how good, beautiful, inspired, or awe stroke I was, games do not speak a universal language that is capable of breaking cultural barriers the same way art forms as music, writing, film, photography or painting do.

    Games are an art form only among gamers. And within that group of people, it is fair to call them as such. But gamers should not expect it to be easy to “export” this concept to the more universal concept of art. Neither I would ever dream of comparing any game made to this date to the Beethoven’s 9th, or The Unbearable Lightness of the Being, or Citizen Kane, to name three distinct works.

    And because this comparison cannot be made (even against smaller and less significant works of art) in terms of the cultural impact and emotional response to a much wider audience, games — if indeed an art form — are a crappy form of art.

    And there’s nothing in this that diminishes a game. It’s perhaps the fact some prefer to attribute games with a value they still don’t have, that makes them think not being an art form somehow is an insult.

    • Stijn says:

      Neither I would ever dream of comparing any game made to this date to the Beethoven’s 9th, or The Unbearable Lightness of the Being, or Citizen Kane, to name three distinct works.

      But would you compare Beethoven’s 9th with the Jackson Pollock’s Number 1, 1950? Not that I disagree with your point, on the contrary, but comparing artist of wholly different disciplines from different centuries is odd to begin with. Sure, you could look at their cultural impact, but I’d say that’s an area where games at least can “compete” with other cultural works.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I agree Stijn. But the meaning of “comparison” here is loose. Meaning simply the act of evaluation the cultural impact and emotional response on a universal and intemporal (sp?) audience.

      Which does bring us to another point. The fact games — assuming them as an art form like any other — lack this ageless property. This general idea that they will be admired, loved and respected in a thousand years as individual works of art. In fact, if games are an art form, we, the gamers, are their worst patrons. We demand revivals, we demand better graphics, better sound. Like the X-COM debate lead many to agree that while they love the original, they would prefer to see it redone with more modern graphics than having to play it with the old. It’s for no one to say how our games today will be looked at in a thousand years. But we do know that many other art forms will keep being reveered in thousands of years. Like a Raphael painting will always be eternal.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @ Stijn

      I believe Kieren made that point in the rpg rant article he made – Worth a read even if the focus is a little different, just after a Sleep is Death article.

      It is kind of amazing that even within genres there are angry lines being drawn in the sand. Both that, and this film/games deal, puts me in mind of Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans having a punch up.

      “But your is geeky and nerdy!”

      “But so is yours!”

      “Don’t be so silly! Ours is socially accepted!”

      Am I guilty of it? More than likely!

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      On another note, however, I think Kellee Santiago made a very poor case for gamers. She didn’t help at all. Because, what Roger doesn’t seem to understand is that indeed for gamers, games are an art form. And this much he should accept.

      She should have started by challenging Roger to agree that a game results from a creative process. She should have then challenged him to accept that there are elements to a game that can be evaluated in subjective terms as “beauty”, “composition”, “style”, “expression”, “meaning”, etc.

    • Bret says:

      But Mario, early games weren’t Rembrant or Raphael era works, they were, well, more Altamira cave painting. Renaissance art had millenia of practical studies, whole civilizations rose and fell.

      It’s not a fair comparison.

    • Stijn says:

      @Mario

      But the Lascaux cave paintings still continue to fascinate us 15000 years after they were made (though their mystery probably has a large part in that), despite their objectively inferior technical merits. Games may still have lots of room for improvement in the technical aspect, and indeed in the mainstream blockbuster genre there’s some sort of arms race towards photorealism, but at the same time myriads of people are hooked to Bejeweled & Co and games like The Void or even Grim Fandango prove that one doesn’t need photorealism to be emotionally touched by a game.

      A Raphael painting will always be eternal because it’s an exquisite example of mastery in painting, in 1520. The Lascaux cave paintings continue to amaze us because it is inconcievable how a caveman could make them with the materials he had, in 15000 BC. Why shouldn’t a game like, say, Duck Hunt, still be respected in hundreds of years because it was a brilliant piece of work given the possibilities its creators had with the hardware and knowledge of 1984?

    • DMcCool says:

      Ebert’s idiocy..his mistake isn’t saying that the games of today won’t stand up to history like Raphael, Beethoven or so on, that is an easy arguement and one I wouldn’t totaly disagree with. His falllacy is saying that no art is likely to ever come from gaming. It is just a ridiculous position, which there is no point in even adopting other than to play up to another generations disapproving grumblings over what kids entertain themselves with nowadays. As people have pointed out, calling a computer game aristically vacuous without playing it is like rubbishing a Shakespeare from a plot synopsis. The artform is the playing and anyone could’ve told him that and no doubt have. But Ebert doesn’t want to listen, he has an agenda to push, or prejudces to stroke. Its not like we have anything like a work of Shakespeare yet, but you can guarantee that every baby-step gaming makes towards artistic integrity and beauty will be fervently ignored by men like Ebert.

    • Boldoran says:

      In my opinion games can be art but not all are (most arn’t obviously).

      Also your point about gamers wanting to see remakes of classic games could also be applied to cinema. Granted the remakes are usualy of films that are not widly considerd art but still if I recall correctly even painting went to an evolution that brought on greater realism with every new school of painting until it eventualy became abstract.

      I don’t see how one can say that games can’t be art when you can just as easily tell a story through that medium as you could through a movie. Not all games are just about getting the highest score.
      None of his points can convince me. (Art has a single auteuer -> I don’t think this is true but even so there are Indie games with single authors). His point about games being commercial is equally strange. Shakespear did write for a living too. Even indie movies that are considered art often have a marketing budget.

      His takes on Braid et al where inconvinving because he obviously did not play them to the end. The most intresting thing in Braid is not the time reversal to correct mistakes per se but the way how it is used to make a point.

      All in all I get the feeling that he is trying to argue about games even though all he has done is watch some youtube videos. If that is what it takes to be an esteemed journalist nowadays maybe I should reconsider my career choice.

      Sorry for the incoherent rant its getting late.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Are games art?

      Well,
      are games such that they comply with my definition of art?

      Well,
      what is my definition of art?

      Ebert doesn’t know, or doesn’t clarify. He needs to, if he’s going to frame a meaningful discussion. Otherwise we’re still at the stage where we’re asking “Are games xycjh?” and it’ll take us nowhere.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I agree the cave paintings argument is suspicious. And I agree too Roger doesn’t make the best of his intelligence on this matter. He has proven to be more shrewd before on other matters. I attribute much of his argumentation to a genuine lack of knowledge on video games. But contrary to others, I don’t think this necessarily disqualifies his most important arguments. Neither it makes him someone who shouldn’t be talking about video games as an art form.

      The cave paintings argument is weak. As you guys say (and I have to agree) it works better against him than for him. My only argument on this particular aspect is that I find the whole argumentation flawed, no matter what side we are on. Cave paintings are admired mainly for other reasons and not for those we usually attribute to art. I can however agree they have an artistic impression which have generally placed them as works of art. Much like a child drawing can be considered as a work of art within a specific context. I think gamers however tend to attribute their games as more elevated art forms. Not child drawings or cave paintings. But Rembrants and Mario Puzos. They clearly are not.

      And yes, DMcCool is right too. Suggesting that games will never be an art form is of very poor taste. But Roger does add a disclaimer to that if you read his article again. In any case, because we can agree art lacks a formal definition, when that happens it is usually better to ignore any attempts at coming with one. Something that Kelle’s technological background has an hard time dealing with. Because she’s often forced to argue in formal terms in all aspects dealing with her profession, she does not conceive the fact that she can really talk about art without trying to define it. She just complicated her case even further. Because, being Roger, he wouldn’t miss an opportunity to pick at that.

      Summing it up… games aren’t art forms in the sense of universal forms of art we came to know. Gamers who keep insisting on this really need to stop smoking that stuff. As an art form, games are only meaningful to gamers.

      HOWEVER, technology has a way with things and the minds of people will become increasingly more accustomed to games as new generations keep adopting them from a tender age. Like movies (something Roger decided to hide from his comment), who took a long time to be considered a form of art, games will eventually have their time too. All it will take for games to be considered forms of art is for… and allow me the crudeness… a lot more people to say they are.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Ebert’s problem isn’t a lack of knowledge about gaming, it’s willful ignorance. He refuses to entertain the notion that gaming could ever elevate to the level of art, and he can’t or won’t interact with games on the level that it would require to appreciate as an artform. It’s akin to a blind man reviewing films based solely on the sound design, and what people are telling him is happening on screen. Who turns around and says “well Avatar was an auditory spectacle but it was no 1812 Overture”. Any statement he makes on the topic must be taken with a heavy dose of salt.

      The thing is he has a massive audience that respects him, and rightly so, for his work in his field of expertise. Of course, if he started making controversial statements about astrophysics or anthropology or, indeed, Broadway Theatre after having only seen YouTube videos about those subjects, nobody would pay him any mind. But video gaming shares enough in common with film that he can almost fake it, and people listen and take his word as gospel.

      The best thing a sensible gamer can do is simply ignore him.

    • oceanclub says:

      “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions.”

      Sounds good enough to me. Any definition of art that includes a urinal and the works of Pauly Shore, but excludes Bioshock, sounds daft to me.

      P.

    • Ed from Brazil says:

      It’s very easy to prove any form of human expression as being “not art”, just make up a definition of art that excludes that form and BAM.

      It’s also pretty stupid to say “Form X is not art because Beethoven’s 9th/Citizen Kane/Hamlet is better”. Seriously? That’s not how you define things, friends.

      And I do think that Planescape: Torment is as good at being a game as Citizen Kane is good as being a movie. So there. Opinions, assholes. laugh out loud.

  19. Chaz says:

    The headlines are funny and made me chuckle, it’s just a shame the stories aren’t quite as snappy. I liked the Oblivion one and the one about the Spec Ops guy’s RPG accident. Overall though the articles could all do with being shorter and punchier, as the joke quickly wears thin about half way through them. It doesn’t help that a lot of the comments then try to stretch and already worn joke even further.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      You can actually make your own comments, so blame the readers.

      I made one in the one about the astronaut combining items thing. Mostly because I had nothing useful to add because I have never heard of The Dig.

  20. panik says:

    The “humour” is too simplistic. I groaned throughout.

  21. Uhm says:

    I’m not convinced the majority think in terms of anything outside a gallery as being art.

  22. Yougiedeggs says:

    Hah, Dwarf Fortress reference in the comments for “I Don’t Know What I’ll Do With All This Used Armor I Keep Buying.” This site is win.

    ” Heinzy says:
    April 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    You should be THANKFULL that you never have to deal with any dwarves. A couple of years ago I was a travelling merchant in The Planes of Time and was heading for a small Dwarven hamlet called Ruthlesspants. Could be a nice place, I thought. Dammit, I was a fool.

    The goddamn broker at the place was drunk and dressed in nothing but silk thongs, five of them! He then tried to sell me over 200 rock flutes and toyboxes and a cage full of frenzied cats in exchange for all my booze and seeds. Suddenly he threw a tantrum and punched a purple guy so hard that he flew atleast 200 feet and exploded when he hit a tree.

    I’m still in theraphy.

    Last goddamn time I ever left Erectedpigs.”

  23. IvanHoeHo says:

    The DIG one and the RPG accident are my favorites, but even the ones that fell flat really aren’t grating at all.

    Maybe I’m just in a good mood today.

  24. Vitamin Powered says:

    I was expecting a bit more from the Ebert article to be honest. The initial part of the article was semi-interesting; an examination into how Ebert defines art, but it breaks down when he tries to show how games aren’t art. Which is a pity and annoying; I want a good decent article from him on why he thinks games aren’t art, but with the games he does examine he seems to skim, not even really taking them in.

    There is material to be had in taking art as the mental / spiritual influence of a product on an audience by a creator, a definition that doesn’t sit well with games’ interactive nature. That is, we take as separate the roles of creator and audience. The roles of creator and audience aren’t quite as set for games, where our interactive nature sets them apart from regular art. We are different in this regard.

    Attempting to forever compare ourselves to other forms of art will mean that we’ll start seeing games through the lenses of said other media. One of the most cited to back up our artiness moments of gaming is a freakin’ pre-rendered cutscene of a chick getting a sword pushed through her. A scene that can’t be changed, altered, or hell, even seen from a different angle. Instead of forever trying to cite examples that dwell on games most ungame-like moments, perhaps we should try a different tact and acknowledge our separation and uniqueness.

    We should, for a moment at least, embrace the concept that games aren’t art, and see where it takes us.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Take note that isn’t Roger trying to define art. It’s him trying to play with Kelle’s attempt at defining art. He never tries to define it himself. It must have been a satisfying moment for him, because that’s a weak point of her argumentation. And he fully explored it over 20 lines.

    • tycho says:

      My response to anyone who has said to me over the years that ‘games are/cannot be art’ is to hand them my Grim Fandango disks – end of argument.

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      @Mario Figueiredo

      I think I might have missed that point somewhere on the second read through, thanks. I also might have attributed someone else’s comments on why games aren’t art to Ebert.

      He does seem a bit desperate in his scrabble for points at the end though, morphing her desire to talk to the various groups that produce or are involved in the production of games into ‘games as art will be made by Finance, Publishing, Marketing, and Executive Management’.

    • Wilson says:

      @Mario – Doesn’t that make his argument not that games are not and never will be art, and more that Kelle’s argument for games being art is wrong? A point which I think many would agree with.

      I think a lot of people want to argue for games as art because a simple argument is easier to persuade people of than the more nuanced, perhaps more accurate one. I would suggest that some games are art, others aren’t, but if I was arguing with someone who strongly disagrees with the notion of games as art, I might be less likely to focus on and bring up the non-art games. I appreciate that isn’t a good reason for not making the more nuanced argument, but since when have people needed good reasons to do things?

  25. JonFitt says:

    That site has a very nice mobile comaptible view.
    HINT HINT

  26. MadMatty says:

    Yet another article on “is games art?” this one saying no. I always thought that this discussion was pointless (im saying yes ofcourse it is ya dim tw*ts!) serving more as filler for journalists who havent got anything else to write about.
    Even in the Credits of a game, they list the graphic ARTISTS who´ve worked on the game, and the MUSICIAN/SOUND EFFECTS guy…. its mostly production art, ie. they need to make cars and boxes and shit to blow up, and its not always inspired, but every game has a bit of its own uniqueness.
    I´ve certainly spent more time playing Another World than staring at the Mona Lisa, so who´s the genius then*?

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      But the music and drawn/rendered art are just components of games, not the games themselves. Just as movies aren’t considered art due to the contribution of a soundtrack or excellent lighting, so games will or won’t be considered art due to a music score or pre-rendered cut scene.

    • MadMatty says:

      Its a collaborative art, including technical work. Its like they see Michelangelo´s technical drawings, and hes a genius, but if you program a supersmooth 3d engine youre not !?
      It is true that theres components of ark, instead of “just” being art, but when exactly are you not being presented with some form of artwork when playing a game?
      Last i heard, acting and films in general are still being considered art.

    • MadMatty says:

      sorry for typos

    • MadMatty says:

      the least artsy game i can thinkof, in the vein of emotional expression, would be something like a straight F1 driving game or Microsoft Flight Simulator

    • MadMatty says:

      i think theyre trying to say, is video games FINE art like you see in the museum.
      And, no it isn´t, its a different artform- a bit like pop art usually.
      Anything involving the creation of objects, or displaying momentarily, ideas and/or emotional expression, can be considered some form of art.

      the almighty wikipedia says:
      Art is 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, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.

      only reason computer games arent included is that theyre relatively new in composition, but they do i must say, clearly contain stuff which lies within the encyclopedia definition of art, which is as you can see, rather wide.
      End of Story

    • MadMatty says:

      damn me for not having anything better to do tonight….but … i think computer games has a “toy” component which confuses some people.
      Many toys are artfully done, even if they do not qualify as Fine Art.

    • MadMatty says:

      and the Michelangelo comparison was a bit fail- sorry i always feel the urge to piss off classic art lovers.
      The poor sod didnt have much to work with at the time, and i think his engineering/mathemathical work was regarded as seperate from his art output.
      I think a better example of how art is technical in certain aspects, is the work of M.C. Escher (link to en.wikipedia.org) , who combined his twisted ideas and logic to draw pictures with visual illusions/distortions. While clearly art, nearly none of his works wouldve work without the application of logic and or mathemathics, so i think this clears the games programmer as an artist aswell.

  27. manintheshack says:

    Holy moly, that was awful. I get the feeling the articles are written to support the initial headline so any apparent humour is bludgeoned to death the further you read. It’s like someone telling a simple joke and then repeatedly explaining to you why it’s funny.

  28. feighnt says:

    i have a terribly difficult time understanding anyone who argues that games arent/cannot be art, when essentially *every* argument one can make, you could find at least a few odd games here or there that break that argument. in particular, look at what Ebert mentioned in the article, where he cited games which dont involve “points or rules” are just not video games – which is only technically true, since the term “video game” is just a signpost pointing towards a particular medium of (more or less) interactive motion pictures. the name hardly matters for anything, much like how a comic book is no less a comic if it’s not a comedy.

    and even in that case, it seems dubious to put a video game which *does* have challenge, and end, etc etc (ie, genuine game components) on a level no different than a sport or a game of chess, considering that sports or (most) boardgames exist for nothing BUT competition, and have absolutely no attempt to tell a story, depict something beautiful/ugly/ominous/etc. it’s as disingenuous to compare these two things as it would be to dismiss, say, tv shows as being able to be art by comparing them to tv commercials.

    what *really* strikes me as weird, though, is this – Ebert once reviewed (or made an editorial about) a little-known videogame during the ’90’s. “Cosmology of Kyoto,” a bizarre, creepy, surreal adventure game about semi-mythological life in medieval Kyoto. in his article, he basically says everything BUT that the game is a great work of *art*! why does he never mention this game when he brings up this topic? or, why dont people bring this up to him – i cant be the only one who recalls he wrote this!

    see the review for yourself: link to wired.com

  29. Jahkaivah says:

    In contrast, Roger fully agrees that Video Games are Ert.

    • MD says:

      Who cares! I would prefer to discuss whether established ertforms like painting can be fon.

  30. mbp says:

    Did any one else get the advertisement

    “WARNING Do not click this is you are a wussy pussy” (or words to that effect”.

    Turn on your speakers and click it.

  31. JonnyBase says:

    This is genius!

    Sorry RPS…it’s been emotional! xxx

  32. Magic H8 Ball says:

    I swear, the so called “enlightened” gamers remind me of furfans sometimes in the sheer amount of whining they can procure on topics nobody else gives a damn about. There should be a term for this – just like “Fursecution” deals with furfans being ostracized for “no reason”(“no reason” being “I believe I am really a fuchsia-pink colored bi hermaphroditic wolf-turtle, anyone wants to cyber?”). And just like said furfans fight for being accepted, there should be a term for gamers fighting for “artistic video games” being accepted. They could have conventions where they dress up as artistic video game characters and have a lot of unprotected sex with strangers also dressed up as artistic video game characters. No, wait… I mean where they can have serious discussions about their hobby and artistic video games.
    Like so:

    .

  33. Alastayr says:

    I admire Ebert for his double-standards (which he managed to keep up over his entire career) and as a film critic. He’s been very consistent in his output so regardless of actual verdict, I knew if that movie was for me or not.

    But he is so fundamentally wrong when it comes to games. He doesn’t play games. We can stop here and ignore all of his output because you can’t comment on Dix or Remarque until you’ve experienced their output in as much as you can’t comment on Braid and Passage until you’ve been there yourself.

  34. Frye says:

    I’d buy Flower (behind Ebert link) right away if it were ever released for PC. One of them annoying good PS3 titles that I will probably never play.

    • cjlr says:

      PC to the core though I might be, I split for a ps3 this year to make the roommates happy.

      Flower is a masterpiece. The end.

      It’s worth a substantial part of the $300 outlay all by itself. Plus, it very nearly convinced my mother (who has never played a video game in her life) to buy a ps3. No joke.

  35. Alez says:

    Thank you mister Kieron for the lovely site. A new one for my bookmarks.

  36. Robert says:

    Lovely site.

    On the subject of Mr Ebert, I will copy my reply:

    “”Obviously, I’m hopelessly handicapped because of my love of cinema, but Melies seems to me vastly more advanced than her three modern video games. ”

    With this sentence you made your whole article a fallacy. By -indirectly- dismissing her opinion on Méliès, you introduce your high horse in the article which frankly reduces your argument to mere rhetoric.”

    I hate snobism if the snob’s tongue is not in a random cheek.

  37. logizomechanophobe says:

    “Maybe he’ll link to us when he’s inevitably the new Yahtzee and we can have some hits. We do like hits”

    To be fair, I’ve been hitting RPS for well o’er a year now, and I was originally linked to this fine establishment by none other than Chris Livingston his holy self!

    Just sayin’!

    Cheers,
    -CJ