A couple of months back, Chicago super critic Roger Ebert got under the skin of many, many, many internet frequenting gamers the world over with his now infamous Videogames Can Never be Art blog. 4,500 comments later, along with numerous rebuttals from gaming press and professional wrestlers alike, Ebert has finally written a follow-up piece entitled Okay, kids, play on my lawn. So did the outpouring of complaints make him change his tune, or is he as stubborn as ever? In reality, it’s a little of both.
Essentially, Ebert just regrets writing the piece in the first place, saying, ” Some opinions are best kept to yourself”. While he still thinks that videogames don’t have artistic merit, he admits that his argument was poorly constructed. “I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games”, said the former Chicago Sun-Times writer. He also admits that saying videogames could never be art was “a foolish position to take” and he conceits that, maybe someday, they can be “art” even in his eyes.
So what are the chances we see Roger Ebert with a controller in his hands anytime soon? Highly unlikely. According to Ebert, someone at Sony even offered him a free PlayStation 3 with a built in copy of Flower, but he declined. His reasons being, “(1) I had no desire to spend 20 to 40 hours (or less) playing a video game, (2) Whether I admired it or not, I was in a lose-lose position, and (3) I was too damned bull-headed”.
Ebert goes on to say that one of the largest criticisms levied against his article was his lack of a definition, and in his quest to find one that would prove videogames aren’t art, he couldn’t find one. Also, the reason it took him so long to reply was that he usually doesn’t reply to comments, and he’s also been somewhat busy at the Cannes film festival.
In short: He isn’t going to change his mind no matter how hard you try (and vice versa), but he is sorry that he angered so many people. Either way, it’s a very interesting and thoughtful read.