Roger Ebert hates video games and everyone knows it. After writing a lengthy rant about why video games will never be art on his blog, Ebert has come under fire for his statements, but has never really backed down from his position on the matter. Many, including myself, have found his distain for video games confusing, since more and more games like Uncharted or Heavy Rain are becoming akin to interactive movies rather than mindless beat-em-ups. I firmly believe that video games and cinema will contiue to merge in interesting ways as both mediums continue to develop, but not so Roger Ebert. According to him, video games just don’t stand a chance of becoming a legitimate art form, even though they already are, and his critiques of the medium actually sound a lot like the critiques of the the people who decried cinema as a flash-in-the-pan novelty when it began its rise to popularity and legitimacy as an art. But where does Ebert’s distain for video games come from? The guys at Gammasquad have figured it out. Ebert loves video games. He just hates being so engrossed in them. Here’s a quote from Siskel and Ebert’s 1989 Holiday Gift Guide (which can be seen in the clip above at 4:30):
I got one of these sets (The Nintendo Entertainment System) at home, and I started playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with it. And after a while, after a week of this, I’d find that every time I had a spare moment and every time I came home, I was in front of the set playing with these mutant turtles. It got to the point where it was making me quite unhappy, because I was so obsessed with it, and I finally unplugged the machine and said, “That’s it for Nintendo.”
So there you have it, folks. Ebert doesn’t actually hate video games – he just doesn’t have any self-control. His spite towards the medium of the video game comes not from some “angry old man” complex, but from the fact that he knows that if he started playing them, he just wouldn’t be able to stop. A movie only lasts a couple of hours, after which you can just turn it off, having completed it. But video games can go on for days, weeks, months, even years! This explains so much. It’s really a shame that Ebert is so set on not giving video games a second chance, though, because man, he’s missing out on some great stuff. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go indulge in some gameage.