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Games definitely not art - Ebert

Critic snaps back.

Respected US movie critic and grumpy old man Roger Ebert has stuck by his guns, insisting that videogames are definitely not art and have "more in common with sports".

He was speaking following comments from author and writer-director Cliver Barker at the Hollywood & Games Summit. He'd described Ebert's view as a "prejudiced vision of what the medium is".

"The word 'prejudiced' often translates as 'disagrees with me'," retorted Ebert, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. "I might suggest that gamers have a prejudiced view of their medium, and particularly what it can be."

"Games may not be Shakespeare quite yet, but I have the prejudice that they never will be, and some gamers are prejudiced that they will." Yes, he's saying that it's all opinions so ner-ner.

For him, the emotional destination is picked by the artist, and being able to change that devalues it. We should all just be quiet and accept games for what they are, he reckons; as entertainment.

But that's not to say he doesn't enjoy things that aren't high-art, as he calls it. He loves a good crime book, for instance, and has probably read The Da Vinci Code.

"That said, let me confess I enjoy entertainments, but I think it important to know what they are," Ebert continued.

"Barker is right that we can debate art forever. I mentioned that a Campbell's soup could be art. I was imprecise. Actually, it is Andy Warhol's painting of the label that is art.

"Would Warhol have considered Clive Barker's videogame 'Undying' as art? Certainly. He would have kept it in its shrink-wrapped box, placed it inside a Plexiglas display case, mounted it on a pedestal, and labelled it 'Video Game'.

And Undying was pretty good, too, back on the PC in 2001.

It seems the pair will never see eye to eye.

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About the Author

Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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