Roger Ebert Says Games Are ‘Getting A Lot Better,’ But Would Rather Knit Than Play

Earlier this week I mentioned that I’ve been participating in Slate’s second annual Gaming Club, a year-end exchange of e-mails by video game reporters and critics.

Who knew that one of gaming’s harshest criticsRoger Ebert — was reading it?

In one of his entries, my Slate Gaming Club counterpart Seth Schiesel of the New York Times had cited Ebert as an inspiration. On Ebert’s blog, a reader asked if the great Chicago film critic had seen it.

His response:

“Yeah, I saw that. I am still not sure video games can be ’art’ in the sense that we use it in this thread, but I am convinced they are getting a lot better. However, if I had at the beginning of my career been told I would spend the next 41 years playing video games, I would have taken up professional knitting.”

Don’t worry, Ebert. I’ll keep the gig.

If you haven’t been keeping up, check out the Slate exchanges, which wrap up today. We’ve been covering a lot of ground. For example, here’s something I wrote about in the middle of the exchange that has generated interesting feedback:

Gamers abandon games—even games that they like—before finishing them. Gamers get angry at games—even games they like—for being repetitious or derivative or for falling short of being as good as it seems like they could be. That’s what you get when you, the gamer, indulge in a creative form that was created to convey satisfying-but-repeatable, controllable bits of action for a quarter per minute. This is the creative form that has somehow evolved into a medium of 25-hour, $60 collections of satisfying-but-repeatable, controllable bits of action without inventing many successful strategies for telling stories, figuring out how to develop characters, or turning into a more interesting way to spend an hour than listening to Beethoven or watching The Wire.
And you thought the people voting for the Grammys, the Oscars, and the Booker prize might have missed some of the glorious works in their fields?

Gaming people often lack the time, the money, and the patience to really get into a year’s worth of games. Playing lots of games can be pretty unpleasant, not unlike going to the gym a lot. You like what you get out of it, but you’ve got to put in a lot of work, much of it tedious.

There was, however, plenty of good gaming in 2008, for those of us who have structured our lives in a way that allows games to dominate our entertainment-consumption food pyramid. You just had to dedicate lots of time to get to it.

I went on to talk about some of the great games of the year. You get the idea…

Related Posts:
We Debate The Year In Games With The New York Times, Slate, Newsweek