Perhaps. I respect Mr. Ebert greatly for his encyclopaedic knowledge of movies and movie history. But to his own admission, he has never played a single video game. It’s the equivalent of me looking at Gone with the Wind and saying it can’t be any good without ever having experienced it. It comes from a place of casual observation rather than true understanding.
And that’s fine. People can have opinions. I’m not looking to change people’s minds about whether video games are finally art. Not only is that not my responsibility, but it’s something that I should not be trying to force upon people. My goal is have people examine video games and determine for themselves whether or not they are art. It has to be a very personal conclusion.
I have a very serviceable definition of the word “art.” It’s served me very well. That definition is this: If I can understand the author’s intent and find personal resonance, it becomes art. I’ve found this in Flower. I’ve found it in Final Fantasy. I’ve found it in countless games that I’ve played. But I can honestly tell you that I would be very hard pressed to tell you about a single painting I’ve seen that has moved me in the same fashion.
What’s the next step? How will the medium evolve as a means of artistic expression? It seems to me the burgeoning indie game scene might have a large role to play...
Yes, I agree with you.
Democratization of technology, tools, and technique and dissemination of information have now put the tools for creation into the hands of anyone who wants to use them as a medium of expression. From that we’re going to see inspired works that come completely out of left field. They will change the way we look at video games, and will change on a social level the interactive possibilities that games provide.
I believe that in the next three to five years we’re going to see some of the most amazing video game experiences. And we can’t possibly determine where they’re going to come from. They’re going emerge out of this shared love of the form and understanding of what this medium can mean to the world at large.
The preceding interview was condensed and edited for flow.