Stop the noise about video games

From Andreas Rønning, Oslo, Norway:

It absolutely pains me, as a lifelong lover of both cinema and video games, to constantly see people so in the know when it comes to one thing act so completely and utterly ignorant about the other. Whenever a film is a soulless piece of garbage obviously out to beat people across the knees to see if there's a jerk reaction and not much more, it doesn't simply annoy me to see writers refer to the spectacle as video game-like, but it is beginning to offend me. It's lazy and ignorant, and simple to avoid by not making the comparison in the first place, or at the very least, to refer to MINDLESS video games, because yes they do exist. They are however not necessarily in the majority.

It's not even a case of this expression being right 10 years ago and simply being a dated expression not yet run out of style. It was only right at the very genesis of video games. I'll point, for instance, to A Mind Forever Voyaging, a game that asked the player to do nothing more than to observe and detail the lives of human beings in a theoretical future America "for science". Or games such as Braid, which tells the story of a man working through a broken relationship and coming to terms with his past through the mechanic of always being able to reverse time and correct mistakes, sometimes playing off those mistakes to reach new conclusions.

Video games are more than bleeps and flashing lights; Hollywood hasn't understood it yet, to the collective groans of every audience member that has ever played a video game in recent times whenever a character on screen grabs a joystick and the sounds of the Atari 2600 blares out at us dumb folk to illustrate what he's doing. That doesn't excuse Pulitzer prize-winning writers from at least a perfunctory attempt at educating themselves about something before spurning it so readily .

I love reading your reviews and commentary, and seeing you drag up the old video game horse for another beating whenever you're trying to describe a noisy dumb spectacle is a truly painful sight, and far beneath you. I don't particularly care when other critics do it. I take you far more seriously, particularly as you've been at least peripherally involved with the games-as-art debate (which i don't want to get into). Whenever you talk about games it's always with some throwaway knee jerk comment, and it's like watching a world class cellist let off a loud fart on stage mid solo.

I wish you'd leave it alone, as a favor to those that care about both film and video games.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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