So, video games’ most prominent gadfly returns to the subject of interactive entertainment this morning. But, wait! Before you roll your eyes, you should know this: Roger Ebert admits he was wrong.
Yep. The Chicago Sun-Times’ longtime movie critic wrote the following in a new blog post:
I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn’t seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.
I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games.
He then goes on to detail how his colleague Steve Prokopy endeavored to get a PS3 and a copy of Flower in order for him to play it. Ebert’s honest about his own hemming and hawing, basically saying he just doesn’t want to play the durn thing.
Sadly, Ebert’s evasiness seems to bear out the prevailing “old man” theory, which posits that he just doesn’t want to play today’s video games. But that’s his prerogative. The most important thing here is that he acknowledges that he shouldn’t have talked trash about a medium he wasn’t willing to engage with. (I basically said the same thing when I wrote a rebuttal to Ebert a few months ago and provided examples of games that echo off of other forms of art.)
Will this be the end of Ebert’s fulminating about video games? Maybe. I personally hope the next chapter in the saga is Ebert turning on that PS3 and playing through Flower. And then Portal. And then Bioshock. And then…
[Sidenote: Because he references “games ≠ art” conversations he’s had with Clive Barker, screenshots of the Clive Barker’s Jericho game accompany the blog post. That game, while decent as I recall, is not exactly an exemplar of the video game form. I kinda feel like he’s taking subliminal potshots at Barker. But that could be me.]