Friday, July 02, 2010

Video Games and Art

Roger Ebert has recently apologized for saying that video games can never be high art. I have no idea why.

He's right, 100%. Video games can never be high art as a function of their nature as video games.

A good example of this is the Halo games and Halo books. I was a HUGE halo player back in the day, so I read some of the Halo books. In the books, the star, the Master Chief, also the character that the player controls, is a near-unstoppable juggernaut who can run 50mph, lift cars, and pull off Matrix-like movies. In the game, he can barely keep up with ordinary soldiers, and if he kills enough of his own guys, they turn into super-soldiers and kill him.

Why the difference? Because the perfect narrative of the book allows things that the game doesn't. This isn't a deficit that better game design is going to overcome. The game will always be limited by the interactive aspect, which necessitates rules and consistency. A purely artistic narrative allows things like Finnegan's Wake. Just imagine something like that as a game!

Games as far as the narrative goes can be high art, but that's not the game, that's the controlled narrative. Games can be artistic, but there's a huge difference between artistic and high art. High art is the perfected expression of the artist, something that rules and controls render impossible.

Roger Ebert Apologizes: 'I Was A Fool For Mentioning Video Games' (The Huffington Post)

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