Thursday, April 22, 2010

Roger. Out.

Roger Ebert, film-critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, recently published a blog post that's ignited a firestorm of debate across the internet. In "Video Games Can Never Be Art", Ebert sets out to refute a TED talk by game designer Kellee Santiago. In point by point fashion he lays out his reasons why video games don't (can't) carry the same artistic weight as music, painting, and yes, film.

Not surprisingly, hordes of tech savvy gamers and enthusiasts have offered rebuttals, refutations, and counter-arguments to Ebert's essay. As of this writing, there were over 2700 comments to his post alone. Add to that the news stories, blog posts, and opinion pieces devoted to the topic and you've got something close to a full-on backlash.

As far as debates go, it's been a pretty lopsided affair. Ebert stands resolutely behind his post while the chants of "you don't get it" grow louder around him. Personally I find myself less perturbed by Ebert's assertions than by the ham-handed way he's delivered them.

"Video Games Can Never be Art" is, to put it plainly, internet attention-whoring. It's trolling. It's calculated and contrarian posturing that's better suited for a 24-hour new cycle than honest debate. And it worked. In a few paragraphs of not particularly rigorous musings, Roger Ebert is thrust into the spotlight again.

As if to fan the flames of internet hoopla further, he's been offering a steady stream of condecension via his Twitter account. He happily taunts and heckles those who disagree, all the while remaining proudly ignorant of the gaming medium (He admits to having not played any of the games he critiques).

I suppose then Ebert would be advised to enjoy the warm glow of all this pixelated attention while he can. I'm not sure it will last. You see, people have been saying this or that can't be art for ages. They said photographs couldn't be art. They said movies couldn't be art. They said videos, quilts, urinals, splatters, drips, rips, and ideas couldn't be art. They were wrong. They're always wrong. In due time, Roger Ebert will find himself on the losing side of history as well. His contrarian stance will end up being nothing more than a quaint footnote, hearkening back to a time when film critics had a say in what could or couldn't be art.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Obligatory "I'm Swamped" Post.


I think everyone who blogs is allowed at least one "I've been too busy to keep up with my blog" entry. This is mine.

For whatever reason, every deadline has converged on that sliver of time at the end of March and the beginning of April. I'm not sure how things line up like this, they just do. This past week I've prepared for and given a professional presentation in Kent, Ohio, participated in a 3 day professional development workshop, written employee progress reviews, helped engineer a puppet show, secured a commencement speaker, and baked cookies!

Next week I'll be running a committee meeting for the Ohio Library Council, helping script the aforementioned puppet show, preparing for our library's Electronic Resources Team meeting, and helping facilitate a library program on Wednesday evening.

It looks like things will be clearing out a bit by mid-April, which is good. I freely admit I'm the kind of person who likes to stay busy, but enough is enough!