Friday, February 22, 2013

A letter to Ebert Jun 06, 2007 12:46AM PST

that won't be sent, but since I'm the only 1upper who has yet to do the games as art debate here goes: Dear Ebert, First of all sorry to hear about your condition and hope you get better soon. Despite some potshots which will be taken in the following paragraphs, I really do hope you have a safe recovery. I wanted to dispute with you the nature of your argument that videogames are not and can not be art according to whichever card you pulled out of the magic hat of ways to define art. I believe you stated something to the effect of being that game developers do not have complete authoratative control over what the gamer experiences, videogames can not be considered art. In games like Area 51 and House of the Dead that's a ludicrous claim being that the gamer is "on-rails" and cannot move anywhere the developer has not designated him to. Then again no one above the age of 5 with full mental capacity would argue these games as "art", so moving on. In games like Legend of Zelda where the gamer can explore vast virtual areas, the developer still has rendered all of whatever areas the gamer sees to his liking and given the gamer a limited set of things he can do in the world. Games like this are pretty much accomplishing (or getting closer to accomplishing) what my favorite artist, Salvador Dali was trying to do: bring people inside the world of a painting. Speaking of paintings, does any painter have control over what area of their painting I decide to look at and in what chronological order I view parts of the painting? No. So that would give them much the same lack of authoritative control game developers experience: they control what's there (the what), but not how and when the admirer wishes to experience artwork. In the case of books (which you do consider an art form), the author has only as much control as the reader feels like. Example: for a decade now, Harry Potter has had an American accent, gotten it on twice with that Asian chick, Snape is French and all magical disputes are solved by "Hummer-fueled dragonfire" because that's the way our President likes to read it. (Unbeknownst to him the Asian chick takes over Hogwarts in the 7th book). As for movies, they're basically videogames with better graphics and no controller. Here it's not a parallel between games and other art medium, but more a question of potential. The main thing movies do that games don't is tug at our heart strings. Then again while I've never played the game, fans of Final Fantasy VII apparently got teary-eyed at the plotline.... which would help my argument if the heart string pulling moments weren't executed by a cutscenes(mini-movies)... damn RPGs. But then you think about what God of War director Daid Jaffe was going to do with Heartland and you realize games have potential to go above and beyond what movies can do in terms of emotional appeal. The idea was that you would be stationed in Iraq and decide who you did or didn't kill, sometimes being forced to look your potential victim in the eyes while deciding. That would make the experience of war much more intense than Saving Private Ryan ever could. This isn't really to argue the whole "authoritative control" thing as it is to say "damn, our media could potentially do some pretty heavy stuff that your favorite media couldn't dream of touching. Neener, neener neener." But more than your flawed reason for why videogames can't be art, what bothers me about your seeming dislike of the medium is your limited experience with it. I'll tell you right now, if you're going to judge games by the games-to-movies adaptions you've seen, you're going to hate the medium. Of course you gave both Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy thumbs up so apparently you don't hate all game-to-film adaptions.... you just have very poor taste in general. But for the rest of those movies keep in mind how craptacular many book-to-movie adaptions are, multiply it by 3 and you get the gaming community's Final Boss Enemy: horrible game-movie Director Uwe Boll. Yes, he's the captain of what experience movie critiques like you have with media related to videogames... and we hate him for it. Mr. Ebert, you wouldn't judge a movie by its previews, you can not judge an entire medium with never once finishing (possibly never touching) one of its products. Your reason for games not having potential to be art is a severely flawed argument, but more importantly until you or your colleagues experience at least one videogame in full you have no valid opinion on the matter whatsoever. Furthermore, you gave the movie Garfield and I believe even its sequel a thumbs up. You know exactly what I mean by that. Note: I did have a much more professional letter with less potshots in it but a mistake with copy/paste made me rewrite and I wanted to inject more unfunny humor into the second draft. I would not send this version to Ebert because it's somewhat juvenille and would not improve gamer image. I don't think it's quite as bad as the swear-filled messages he's gotten though. Remember if sending anything to anyone arguing in favor of the image of videogames or videogamers, keep the internet speak blue streak out of it. It makes us look respectable or something. Now listening: Local H- Copasetic, Megadeth- A tout Le Monde, Fuel- So Far Away Now watching: Seducing Dr. Lewis Now Reading: EGM, Harry Potter 6, applications.... so many applications Now admiring: Salvador Dali's trademark pink elephant, which was used as an analogy for gaming Easter eggs in the first draft of this blog What are you currently listening to, watching, reading, admiring/ how was this blog?

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