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Trevor Wagner

GameGavel Discusses: Roger Ebert's "Apology"

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This week, GameGavel Discusses talks about Roger Ebert's "apology" for his earlier comments about video games not being art.

This week, Anthony Wastella, fellow GameGavel writer joins me to discuss this apology, and the comments that preceded it.

Trevor Wagner -
So, pretty much everybody's read Roger Ebert's, now infamous, comments about video games, which in short said that video games are in no way an art form. He caught a lot of flack from a lot of people, ranging from intelligent discussions about his points to "hurr durr" comments making accusations about his sexuality

Anthony Wastella - Mr. Ebert's continued to stand by and make snide remarks in perhaps on of the best instances of Trolling as it were this side of 4chan. Well Until today, Where he apologized about his comments, which Seems to me like he is either bored of this endeavor or trolling in another trenchcoat as it were

T.W. - To start with, his comments today reflected the sentiment that yes, he doesn't feel that games are art, but he doesn't have the experience with games that gamers do, so he shouldn't have commented. I wouldn't necessarily say that he was trolling, as much as he wanted to try to put the whole thing to rest. I mean, that's his opinion, which is fine, but a lot of gamers seemed really upset that someone didn't agree that games could be art.

A.W. - His ignorance of even playing a game should really stand out as a problem. I mean he views games as these 30-40 hour experiences which to the film critic in him seems like it's dragging out any sense of a story not to mention is a huge investment of time to put into something he already firmly feels he won't like. As for the fact that gamers want to use him as a pillar of acceptance for the whole "art" debate, is mostly due to the fact that he's probably the most recognizable critic of any medium in this day and age.

T.W. - I'm not saying that his lack of experience counts for any sort of defense, especially with skewed views from the mainstream media. I think the problem with people counting him as a pillar of what is art and what isn't is misplaced trust. You wouldn't expect a critic that specializes in sculpture to comment knowledgeably on literature or music. It's the same thing. I'm not saying he isn't a good film critic, but, like his comments today stated, he's not really "qualified" to comment on the status of games in relation to art.

A.W. - I'll agree with you there. It's the fact that people view him as a pillar I think does him a disservice really not to mention he is a very vocal person, who does lack a voice now aside from the words from his keyboard. I'm not going to call him too old to play games, but I think He thinks he Is too old to play them, which I think grinds his gears. He mentioned flower in his recent blog which to people who have played it I think best described it as a non-game- game (I haven't played it myself) It's one of the few I could thing might reach his definition of art had he tried it.

T.W. - I think the largest problem I have with his comments today is the hell that some people are giving him. People flipped out when he said that he didn't think games were art. That's fine, you disagree. But when he's willing to stop forward and say "this is my opinion, you may not like it, but it's my opinion. But you're right, I don't have the experience/qualifications to make a decisive comment on video games," at least give him the courtesy of accepting his "apology." He's caught a lot of hell about him admitted he's biased, and I'm not entirely sure why.

A.W. - maybe it has more to do with the very Nature of the internet. People find the anonymity easy to use to vent or try and take out their rage at a man who feels he's fighting a losing battle. Not to mention 4chan could easily be hijacking any sensible conversation he might try to have. I will admit for being mildly angry when this first appeared for his first blog, but since felt he was trolling for the sake of it, now I'm not so sure though.

T.W. -
I think that this whole thing hasn't even really been about Ebert's views on games as art, I think it's mores o about the fact that gamers aren't really in agreement about if games are art. People blame Ebert for it, but it's because they don't want to deal with fighting other gamers; fighting an old man behind a keyboard is easier.

A.W. - The fact that you can't objectify what art really is doesn't help things. Even in what people consider "art" there's a lot of stuff I feel doesn't qualify for the title. Using arbitrary definitions doesn't help matters either because that might exclude people's favorites, considering how one plays a game differs greatly from another person.

T.W. - No, I agree with you on that. My feelings, in short, on this whole things are that Ebert's entitled to his opinion. Whether or not you agree with it, disagree with him, or think that no one's right, that's fine. But giving him, or anyone else hell for it, is a waste of everyone's time. His "apology" was a decent enough gesture to try to calm people down, though I think it's a little late. I don't wanna insinuate that he just wanted to get more attention since the other conversation had died. but who knows.

A.W. - He should be allowed to have his own opinion and vocalize it here on the net where everyone is given equal say like some form of real democracy. I do agree with you that he shouldn't be lambasted for not apologizing the right way, whatever that is. He could have done this sooner I also agree with you on, but he also knew he couldn't win so I bet he figured to time this comment for when gamers were cooling down from the madness that was E3, which I bet even he has heard of. He might have been trolling or maybe he's tired, but I will say this, I hope that was the last of it.

T.W. - We can only hope that this is the end of this whole mess, since I don't think it helped either argument.

Well, this has been GameGavel Discusses, I'm your host Trevor Wagner, and we'll see you next week.

Trevor Wagner Writer

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Updated 13-08-10 at 09:55 by SteveSawyer

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