Clive Barker vs. Roger Ebert: Are Video GAmes a Form of Art?



Recently at the Hollywood and Games Summit, Clive Barker made remarks challenging Roger Ebert's statements about a year ago that video games are not a form of art. He recently responded. Click here to read Ebert's response to Barkers remarks.

Reading this got me thinking. I may not have the qualifications of Clive Barker to make an argument either way, having only a high school education so far, but I am most definitely a video game fanatic. I love them, and have been playing them, and digging deeper into that form of entertainment for the past 14 years (I started with Doom in 1993 for those keeping count). I also like to consider myself something of an artist. I have been drawing since I was a kid, and I attended several art classes in high school. I also have a webcomic that I update weekly. That atleast qualifies me as a non professional cartoonist. I would like to think that I atleast have a somewhat valid opinion on the subject matter.

Anyway. first off, it seems to me that Ebert is taking a few of Clive Barker's statements a little out of context. For example, he made it sound like Clive was saying he was going to rewrite Romeo and Juliet or something like that. I cannot speak for Clive, but it sounds like that is not the case at all. It seems to me that he used it purely as an example. Furthermore, art is subjective, right? Who is to say what "high art" is? One man's trash is another man's treasure, right?

Barker studied English and philosophy at Liverpool, is an accomplished artist and quite possibly knows more about art in its many manifestations than the average gamer does. How can I say that? Only a guess. This statement bugs me a little. It appears to be making a broad generization about gamers and edges a little too closely to an insult, I think. I also find it interesting that he mentions plotlines as one reason why video games cannot be high art. He does review movies, and there are many games out there that walk the line of interactive movie. Indigo Prophecy springs instantly to mind

As for my own thoughts on it, art is subjective. This much is true. It is very hard tio define, and may not even have a definition that nails it 100%, but I think that games should be considered a form of art. Movies and books are both art, right? Well, games are a more interactive way of doing the exact same thing that those two do: telling a story. There is, of course, some art that is better than others. There will games on both ends of the spectrum, of course, but bad art is still art, right? I also do not believe it is correct that games cannot be high art, especially with more and more games focusing on unique looks and designs on them. To me, atleast from a visual standpoint (maybe not from a story telling or audio standpoint), a game like Okami or Shadow of the Colossus could be considered high art. The beauty of such a game is alot more than just skin deep. The developers went the extra mile with that and delivered more than just pretty graphics. I agree with Clive Barker on this one. Games are a form of art in my opinion

What do you make of this? Do you agree with Ebert or Barker or do you have a completely different opinion on this entirely?

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