Hey Ebert, Play This Game

Roger Ebert did a brave thing today, a terrible thing today: He admitted that he was wrong and said he has no plans on rectifying that.

Ebert, America's movie critic, has long held that video games are not art. This morning he gave up; not his notion that games aren't art, but his right to espouse an opinion about the subject.

I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

Ebert throws himself on the sword not because his opinion was incorrect, but because it was uninformed. Bravo for that, but then moments later he tells us that, with what I as a gamer can only perceive as disdain, he has no interest in playing games that could very well be art because he has better things to do with his time like read a book or watch a movie.

I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like quitting. This is the critics version of flipping over the Monopoly board and stalking from the room.

Ebert watches plenty of movies, bad movies, movies he knows he will hate. Couldn't he skip one and play a game for two hours instead? Or maybe it isn't that he has better things to do with his life, but that he's afraid of what he'll find. That he knows deep down that video games can and are supplanting his medium of choice in many ways.

Either way I think it is disingenuous for him not to at least play a game, give it a chance.

Here's the deal Ebert. We're going to come up with a short list for you of quick, deeply interesting games that you can pick from. Play one and then don't tell a soul what you think.

But what game? If you had one chance to convince someone that video games are meaningful which game would you pick?

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time because of its beloved status among critics? Uncharted 2 because of its movie-like nature? Flower because of its delicate aesthetic?

It's akin to asking someone to name one movie, one book, one album that summarizes everything good about that medium.

It's an impossible task. So let's agree collectively as gamers to drop it. We can't make a person love games like we love games. And that's OK, they're the ones missing out.