It takes a man of strength and character to acknowledge when he is wrong, but Roger Ebert did as much today regarding his earlier statement that games are not, and never will be, art. You can read the full article here.
You may recall this story, as we reported on it in April of this year. Legendary movie critic and all-around "voice-of-reason," Roger Ebert, declared that, in his opinion, games would never rise to a standard worthy enough to be considered art.
It seems that our unified vocal "disagreement" with his comments were more than enough to address the issue, and gamers presented a valid argument that caused him to reconsider his stance on the matter.
Posting on his blog for the Chicago Sun-Times, Mr. Ebert wrote the following:
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.
He then went on to discuss the huge community response to his article, citing that 4,347 comments had hit his blog page since his article was published. Of them, roughly 300 people supported his argument, yet the remainder unilaterally disagreed. He continued:
If you assume I received a lot of cretinous comments from gamers, you would be wrong. I probably killed no more than a dozen. What you see now posted are almost all of the comments sent in. They are mostly intelligent, well-written, and right about one thing in particular:
I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games.
I remember this argument, since I believe I tweeted the same sentiment to him shortly after the article was published, as did many others, I'm sure. Again, I have been a stalwart fan of Mr. Ebert's direct and concise critiquing, of both movies and the world at large, but when I heard he had slammed videogames as never being capable of art - damning them through time and space, no less - my respect for him slipped. After all, that kind of thoughtless and inconsiderate comment is reserved for right-wing nanny-state champions, who cast their magnifying glass over Grand Theft Auto, while turning a blind eye to a failing war on drugs; or sending their sons out to hunt with their fathers while at the same time decrying that violence in games is teaching our children to kill.
The good news is that Mr. Ebert was willing to listen and is not above a little humility and honest self-reflection. What I find particularly impressive is the way our community stood as one to defend our hobby for the enriching and engaging pursuit it can oftentimes be. Apparently, Kellee Santiago, who's TED presentation sparked Mr. Ebert's initial post, offered to provide him with a slew of games for him to consider. Steve Prokopy - otherwise known as Capone over at Aint It Cool News, and Simeon Peebler, the chair of Games and Interactive Media at Chicago's Tribeca/Flashpoint Academy, did the same. They then provided a PlayStation 3 for Mr. Ebert along with the example games from Kellee Santiago, and put forth their best and most gracious effort to provide him with exhibits for our counter-argument.
Again, I respect Mr. Ebert for his raw talk. In a sea of advertisements and shareholder interests shaping the way we receive our entertainment these days, his untainted voice is a welcome one. That he made statements that wrankled us, and then sought to retract them for no reason other than to remain true to his morality is worth prasing him for.
Ranters, honesty here, please. Did Mr. Ebert's initial comments bother you? Did his apology go far enough for you? How do you feel about the way he retracted his comments?
Source: Roger Ebert's Journal