Roger Ebert, Film Critic Who Challenged Gaming, Dies at 70


A young Roger Ebert pictured above.


After a long battle with cancer, film critic Roger Ebert died at the age of 70 today.

Mr. Ebert was a busy, prolific critic, whose work you’ve likely encountered in different media over the years. There was the 1990s TV show Siskel and Ebert at the Movies, which you’ve no doubt seen if you were alive and able to watch TV in the 1990s. Check out their review of The Terminator below.

Then there were Ebert’s written reviews, all of which you can read right over here. Full of knowledge, poignancy, but also an accessible, sometimes funny looseness, his written work was always a joy. For whatever reason, his review of Constantine sticks out to me.

And of course, there was Ebert’s essay in which he challenged the entire gaming medium, declaring that games could “never be art.” While few in the gaming press agreed, the fact that we all felt the need to respond is a testament the power of his critical voice. One that will surely be missed.

RIP, Mr. Ebert. See you at the movies.

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9 Comments on Roger Ebert, Film Critic Who Challenged Gaming, Dies at 70

MICHAEL

On April 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

R.I.P. to the man with the smartest quote ever said,”Video games can never be art” .

To those that disagree tuff because video games is a CRAFT nothing more.

Fifty Scent

On April 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Michael – I don’t agree that games can NEVER be art. I do, however, agree that it’s totally overblown as a concept. At the end of the day, games are a consumer product. They require skill to make properly, sure. They can have artistic elements to them, definitely. But that doesn’t automatically make them art. The worst examples are the ones that we witnessed with Mass Effect 3. The ending was awful, and technically broken from every standpoint, but so many clung to the ‘creative integrity’ defense mechanism that it lost what little meaning it actually ever had. Same can be said to a lesser extent about Heavy Rain – it has one of the most vapid, poorly-constructed and hole-ridden stories in any ‘story-driven’ videogame, but because it was moody and because people desperately wanted it to be a work of genius, they just ignored the blatant issues with it and said “where are the better game stories?” Which not only isn’t a valid defense of Heavy Rain, but also runs the risk of making sure that game stories NEVER improve, since the poor writing in Heavy Rain will suddenly be deemed the acceptable standard.

Anyway, regardless of his thoughts on games, Ebert was a legend and it’s sad that he’s gone. He and Gene Siskel were a fantastic double-act and Richard Roeper was a decent counterpart as well. He won’t be forgotten.

Goner

On April 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

So Video games can never be art…..
You got musicians working here,you got graphic designers working here,and all this staff is about crafting something that can give emotion, one shot : FF7 and THE Scene whit a big S who had shake so many people from each race, each age around the world in a same way, come on!!!
But….noooo you still got people who still thinking “this is not art”.
But maybe Robert Ebert by Video game was thinking about…. Pong, or maybe he was just trolling, sometime the best way to get attention is to do the opposite of everyone.
The fact is that where you are at last famous like many painter who can sell every think for any price.
Don’t trust no one but yourself.

David

On April 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Personally I think the whole argument is stupid. Who the heck cares if games are art? I’m not going to buy a game because I think it’s an art piece, I’m going to play it to have some fun, and maybe enjoy a decent story depending on the game. Heck, I’m glad they aren’t considered art right now, have you seen how overpriced actual pieces of art are? Dear gosh, why the heck am I going to buy a painting for the cost of a friggin house?

For that matter, I don’t care if anyone calls movies “art”. I reallyy don’t care if people think Star Wars is a work of art, I’ll be too busy having fun with lightsaber battles to care. I don’t really care if anyone thinks The Expendables ain’t art, I’ll be too busy enjoying all the explosions, and silly action scenes.

For that matter, I don’t really care if people say comics are “art”, I’ll be too busy enjoying reading the Avengers, and wishing that the writers of spider-man would stop messing with him already (first they try to retcon his marriage, and then make it so that DOC OCK is spider-man? What is wrong with these people?), and wondering how the heck they’re going to do a guardians of the galaxy movie.

For that matter, I don’t care if Broadway is considered “art” when I go to see Phantom of the Opera, or Wicked. I’m too busy enjoying the music, and watching the actors on stage act out the show. And convincing my friend not to sing along with the actors while we’re watching.

For that matter, I don’t care if opera is considered art, I just know that going to one that starts at 10 at night, that is all in another language, when I can’t even read the translator screen because it’s too bright for my eyes to get used to, and a 20 minute death scene is a great way to put me to sleep after a long bus trip.

If Mass Effect 3 for example (because that’s everyone’s favorite punching bag these days around here) had writers that weren’t so concerned about being considered “art”, maybe we’d have avoided the whole catalyst bullcrap. But no, we had to try to pretend we’re philosophers, instead of making sure what they were talking about made any amount of sense.

“Art” frankly is boring and overrated. That said, I like having a more complex story in my games, but for the sake of having a good story, not because “art”. Give me something fun and interesting any day, let everyone else try to play philosopher over the color blue. The sooner people quit whining over wanting to be called “art” and get over it, the sooner we might actually get somewhere.

The short version? I don’t want “art”. I want something that’s good.

DrChannington

On April 5, 2013 at 2:24 am

I like how after reading an article about Roger Ebert dying of cancer, all anyone can argue about is whether games are art.

Mr. Ebert, you will be missed.

Goner

On April 5, 2013 at 3:37 am

Some are believer and don’t even Know it , cause all the subtlety off some Art , is about felling not understanding, but i can understand that most people, just can’t explain what happened to them when they face the beauty , so just take a screen shot of reality and make a “fond d’ écran ”
Did you see the woman in red? huh…

Henman Grinding

On April 5, 2013 at 5:32 am

Come on Goner, a beloved film critic has just died. You may disagree with his opinion on games but at least show a bit of respect for the man right now, his views can be examined another time.

Goner

On April 5, 2013 at 8:32 am

Sorry if there is a misunderstood somewhere , i wasn’t trying to spit on the man grave.
But just trying to said that even a great man can sometime underestimate things and the era they living in,daddy’s toys vs kid’s toys ,maybe it was the wrong place.(this for the 1st post)

For the second post, the truth is ,that i was in a bad mood and by seeing, Action turbo G.I Joe,with is Duff in a hand and is D…ks in the other hand, pissing and smashing is boots on the work of people who just try to survive with they gift just drive me mad it just remember me people mind 600 year in the past .
I wish to said more but my English suck so munch and that make me feel naked .
I didn’t know Mr Ebert’ s Work but he was certainly a media lover like many of us, so R I P .

Wesker1984

On April 6, 2013 at 12:54 am

This make us three or four here with a bad english?