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Film critic slags off games

They're not art, says Ebert.

Top US film critic Roger Ebert has taken a pop at videogames and gaming in general in his Chicago Sun Times column, claiming that there's not a single game on the shelves which can match boring old plays, books and films in terms of artistic value.

Ebert was responding to a questioner who wrote in to say he was "saddened to read that you consider videogames an inherently inferior medium to film and literature, despite your admitted lack of familiarity with the great works of the medium.

"Was not film itself once a new field of art? Did it not also take decades for its academic respectability to be recognised?"

Ebert replied: "I did indeed consider videogames inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Videogames by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control."

Ebert went on to say that while he was prepared to accept that videogames "can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful," he believes that "the nature of the medium prevents if from moving beyond craftmanship to the stature of art.

"To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept.

"But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilised and empathetic."

So let the great debate begin: which is better, Super Monkey Ball or Beowulf? We say the former, but that's because we're so uncultured, uncivilised and whatever the opposite of empathetic is.

Also, we'd question the idea that films are inherently an art form, while games are not. Shadow of the Colossus versus The Boyfriend School, anyone? Yes, it's got Steve Guttenberg in it, but still.

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About the Author

Ellie Gibson avatar

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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