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Film critic Roger Ebert on his journal

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  1. Great to see Robert admit fault, even if he never changes his mind. Everyone is indeed entitled to their opinion, but stating it as fact (ie: videogames can never be art) isn't the best way to go about it.

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  2. The thing that bugs me most about the sort of concession that I have a feeling people will just take Ebert caving as a sign of vindication and then completely forget all the really valuable arguments he made. Even if he drew the wrong conclusion he provided a wealth of good criticism (some not so good, but oh well) for gamers and developers to think about. Because let's face it, if video games are an art form, their value as one is monumentally dwarfed in quality by literature, film, music, etc.

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  3. @Nels Those mediums have been around much longer though and thus have gained maturity over the years. This will eventually happen in video games, it's just that we need some geniuses (like Orson Welles, James Joyce, Bela Bartok etc) to push forth that maturity in this industry. Warren Spector is on the right track in this regard.

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  4. @Pugz Fumito Ueda is one such genius if you ask me, but I'm the type of fanboy that has nothing but glowing words to type about Team ICO games. Should be interesting to see what Ebert thinks. The man needs to check out Rez as well.

    edit: damn, after actually reading the journal I guess this is more like a "okay, I was wrong fling assumptions around but I still don't give a shit about games" thing as opposed to "let's see you guys try and prove me wrong." Shame, but still pretty funny to see the guy dedicate that much text towards covering up a little ignorance.

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  5. @Kanji I think the keyword in the quote above is "Someday?".

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  6. @Pugz I completely agree. Which is why I don't think my statement should be upsetting to anyone.

    However at the same time, because these other mediums have had such a head start there is a wealth to learn from them as gamers. Comparatively, our progression to a respectable place should be much quicker (like film). I really hope developers start taking cues from the classics of literature and film on how to tell a story. Composers and graphic artists all ready doing quite well for themselves in their departments comparatively (Not that video game music concerts are up to snuff yet with the rest of the pops, but they're getting there).

    This is actually one of the most profound critiques Ebert had to offer: Why are so many gamers arguing for video games as a art at a complete disconnect with how they fit into the rest of the art world? When I still tried to follow his last blog I noticed as soon as he made this comment in the discussion a deluge of gamers tried to present such an argument (comparing games to Shakespeare, etc.). Let me tell you, not a sound argument among them before I stopped keeping up. Not to say one can't be made (my friend Camille has given me a pretty awesome one), but their attempts didn't impress upon me that Ebert's assessment was inaccurate. Most gamers trying to make the argument (even industry professionals) have no idea what they're talking about.

    Ebert's drawn the wrong conclusion but has an argument made of silver. Gamers have drawn the right conclusion but have an argument made of dirt.

    Note: Sorry Pugz, just started ranting. Clearly this isn't all directed at you

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  7. @Nels

    Most gamers trying to make the argument (even industry professionals) have no idea what they're talking about.

    Oh man, I would like to commend you a thousand times for saying that because I feel the exact same way. I agree we should be taking note of such mediums, these will help to inspire depth and definition in video game narratives. I would also like to say that we should also acknowledge that the approach should never be taken from said mediums, as games challenge a different narrative experience altogether.

    My biggest concern with video game narratives is the general consensus on how it should stray away from linearity. This concerns me because it's not about having multiple choices for multiple outcomes (though it's a valid approach) that defines an engaging story but, more so on HOW endogenous the narrative actually is regardless of dialogue trees, choice-determines-outcome etc. Kanji mentions Famito and he's on to something there, as the many subtleties in Shadow of the Colossus through the game's progresses gives some breadth to the narrative (that's entirely linear), it's more than the sum of it's part, it has an immersible element that is brought on by choice (i.e. killing the Colossi).

    Ultimately, it's about how we can connect the narrative to the player's experience and convincing the player that it has meaning within the narrative itself. Linearity/non-linearity does not apply to such things imo.

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    • Tue January 19, 2021
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