Video games have come a long way. baby, a long way, indeed. And luckily for us gamers, the image of the suspender wearing nerd who has to put his controller down every few seconds just so he can push his taped glasses back up his nose has faded away. Because now, even the cool, ruffled collared kids are playing games, as well as the loyal crowd that has been playing them since Battlezone and Frogger hit the arcades, making it a multi-million dollar enterprise.
But sadly, as with any fairly new form of entertainment, as gaming gets more popular as a genre, in come the naysayers who want to push it right back down its totem pole. And the most recent attacker (passively, of course) of this upward movement is Roger Ebert, who gamers have been crying foul at ever since he said that video games will never be art.
He claims that video games will never be as worthy as movies.
Um, hello! Wasn’t the same thing said about movies when THEY first arrived on the scene when compared with books? I’m sure some prissy, English chap with mutton chops that spiraled out of control and went down to his ankles probably said something along the lines of: “That new vulgar cowboy film all those degenerates are slobbering over at the nickelodeon cannot compare to the wit and grace of Mr. Dickens. Forthright!”
Films had to gain the respect of the critics, just like books probably gained the respect of some ancient Egyptians who were just fine and dandy with their wall murals of eyeballs and weird shaped snake dealies that spelled out utmost love for the pharoah.
And while games, this gamer must admit, HAVE been lacking in the story department, leading one to believe that they are not art but rahter just loud explosions and prostitute killing, there is hope.
The recent game Shadow of the Colussus is, if not art, then a beautiful represntation of what art can be. In it, you wander vast, pastoral plains on horseback and tackle beasts of epic proportion all in the name of rescuing your love from her somnolent slumber (actually, she’s dead.)
Your only indication of who your next foe will be is from a ostensibly heavenly voice from the sky that speaks in an awkward manner that sounds like somebody’s playing a Yanni record backwards.
The landscape, music, story, and character development (the protagonist, Wander, loses another piece of himself with every majestic monster he meticulously manhandles) are all as artsy fartsy as something you’d be privy to seeing in a Norwegion epic, and it truly is an engrossing experience that everyone should embrace.
And like many other elegant games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and other magnificent titles, Shadow of the Colossus IS true art, And if somebody can drag Mr. Ebert away from watching Mean Streets for the umpteenth time, maybe he could find that out for himself.
Video games, like books, like movies, like, I don’t know, Anime, will be accepted in time, just you wait. As long as there are examples like Shadow of the Colossus to push it forward, they will eventually get there in time.