Roger Ebert, arguably the world's most influential film critic, passed away this Thursday at 70. Ebert wasn't a video game critic, except for when he was, and I like to think he had more influence on our industry than many who worked in it.
Ebert caught a lot of flack a few years ago when he postulated that video games could never be art. But by taking this abrasive opinion he inspired thousands of comments and countless blog posts of thoughtful criticism and arguably did the industry a favour as everyone rushed to prove him wrong.
Of course, he was wrong. "It is quite possible a game could someday be great art," he later admitted before the argument got so tired that no one wanted to go near it with a 10 foot pole.
Unbeknownst to many, Ebert even had a brief foray into video game criticism where he reviewed The Cosmology of Kyoto for Wired. "This is a wonderful game," he concluded, speaking fondly of the medium he was always so critical of.
For whatever reason Ebert never got into games. I guess he just wasn't in the mood. But his insightful criticism, strong writing and colourful character inspired a generation of journalists in whatever their field.