Ebert: "I was a fool for mentioning games"

Infamous games-as-art critic back-tracks.

Roger Ebert, the infamous film critic who claimed videogames weren't and could never be art, has rethought his position after thousands of people argued otherwise.

"I was a fool for mentioning videogames in the first place," he wrote on his blog. "I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that videogames can never be Art [sic]. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself."

Ebert admitted that he never provided a definition of art against which to compare videogames. He also insisted that the majority of the 4547 comments on his blog were "intelligent" and "well written".

"My error in the first place was to think I could make a convincing argument on purely theoretical grounds," Ebert deduced. "What I was saying is that videogames could not in principle be Art. That was a foolish position to take, particularly as it seemed to apply to the entire unseen future of games.

"This was pointed out to me maybe hundreds of times. How could I disagree? It is quite possible a game could someday be great Art."

In those thousands of comments, "three or four" games were recommended "time and time again" that could challenge Ebert's theory. No one example was considered an "unassailable masterpiece", but Ebert noted that Shadow of the Colossus came closest. "I suppose that's the one I should begin with," the film critic wrote.

Alas, Ebert has "no desire" to play videogames. He was offered a PlayStation 3 pre-loaded with games but turned the gesture down.

Ebert conceded that artistic merit lies in the eye of the beholder; what a book or a film does for him, a game may do for someone else.

"I had to be prepared to agree that gamers can have an experience that, for them, is Art," he wrote.

"I don't know what they can learn about another human being that way, no matter how much they learn about Human Nature. I don't know if they can be inspired to transcend themselves. Perhaps they can. How can I say? I may be wrong.

"But if I'm not willing to play a video game to find that out, I should say so. I have books to read and movies to see. I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place."

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