On Roger Ebert’s view of videogames
A non-edited transcript from a comment reply that was written a few months ago follows. While visiting my blog, I just thought it deserved a full post. [take into account these may not reflect my current opinions (people do change…)] This will probably become common practice in the future, in order to spike further discussions with my dear blog readers.
I agree with Roger Ebert. Movies are a far more superior medium than games. Most game storylines are just generic varations of other plots. Bioshock is basically Roger Corman.
“I agree with Roger Ebert.”
Well, first up, let me say I’m a big fan of Roger Ebert… as a movie critic. When it comes to games, he clearly knows nothing about what his talking about. Did he ever play a game on his own? Probably not. Did he ever play (or even watch somebody play) the best games in the means? Surely not. When he describes games, he dismisses much of the elements that make the experience unique and interesting. It’s like a theater critic bashing on cinema, without ever being to a movie-theater – would you believe that person? No matter how valid an opinion can be, if it lacks proper justification, it means nothing. And in Ebert’s case, it lacks.
“Movies are a far more superior medium than games.”
No means can be seen as superior to another. In my opinion there’s no possible comparison, because each artistic mean uses different semiotic vehicles to express their author’s ideas. Can you compare literature to cinema? Sure, you can say that literature has far more complex narrative structures, dialogs, and whatnot, but Literature lacks the impact and beauty of image and sound. So how do you compare? Music with literature? Theater with Sculpture? How? It’s simple, you can’t, they’re different languages, with different expressions, different focuses, different motifs, different genres, different everything! To compare just seems silly to me.
Now, what I do admit, is the comparison between means when it comes asserting the fulfillment of their potential. In that regard, I can see film as “superior” medium, but that is to be expected, it has had more than 100 years of history to perfect the craft, as opposed to 30 in the gaming means…
Most game storylines are just generic varations of other plots.
That afirmation is just completely generic and reductive, and the same can be said about most works of art. I bet I can reduce any movie to a composition of others works of art, and the same can be done with any other piece, because every bit of art that exists is always a product of previous works, either directly (when it is in the form of an adaptation), or indirectly, (when you can sense the artist’s influences and references). Artists are human beings and thus, a product of their means. They always take something from the past and use it to create their own unique expression. But that doesn’t make it unique, it makes it slightly different than his influences, but never detached from them. Art scholars do just that: examine a piece of art and conjure up the net of influences that rise behind and beyond.
So, when you say that “Bioshock is basically Roger Corman.” you’re probably right, but it is far from being detracting to the piece, quite on the contrary, it means its authors have good references and know how to translate them into other means, with added value and expression. Reducing “Bioshock” to a single influence, forgetting all of its brilliant art-deco flair, carefully woven script, claustrophobic ambiance and beautiful soundtrack is mean and unjustified, and I think you can understand why. I could say the same about “1984″, “Brave New World”, “Metropolis”, or any other work of art, and it would always be unfair. So be careful when you say… “A” is “B”, don’t you go forgetting what “A” really is.
So, anyone wanna comment through? Please? What’s your view on Roger Ebert’s thoughts? You can visit his blog here.