Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Roger Ebert vs. Gamers

Roger Ebert, the famed movie critic based in Chicago, is getting a serious drubbing on the Web by gaming fans after making the following statement: "I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control...To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic."

My two cents: 1) Video game designers place "fake control" in the hands of the players, namely, the players may experience the "sensation of control" during the gameplay, particularly after "beating" the computer to advance to another level, but the fact remains that video game designers are the ones who plot out the numerous routes for the gamers to "struggle" through the game maze. 2) Playing video games is more akin to playing sports, the part of the player's body exercised being the brain, and as in spending time on sporting activities, those hours aren't a "loss", because video game players gain by sharpening their capability in strategic planning and dexterity.

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