Barker vs. Ebert: The Battle Continues
The saga continues, as the Clive Barker vs. Roger Ebert debate has escalated to the point of blatant name-calling. If you weren't familiar, Ebert sparked a firestorm amongst the gaming community earlier this year when he said video games could "never be considered art." Afterwards, at the Hollywood and Games Summit, Barker shot back and refuted Ebert's claims, which caused Ebert to issue a clarification. Unfortunately, all Ebert did was say games held more traits of sports than of art, and that didn't really help matters.
And now, Barker is at it again. In speaking to Scott Steinberg on the latest Digital Trends podcast, he got all personal-
"[Ebert's] a pompous, arrogant old man, and he's not going to stop us from making games or enjoying them or... making them art."
Furthermore, Barker said earlier in the interview that he had actually written a pretty nasty letter with the intention of sending it to Ebert. But once Barker learned of the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic's illness (Ebert has suffered with cancer for quite some time), he tore it up and tossed it away. We're not sure what made him go a little crazy and issue the aforementioned comment, but hey, he did it. Barker added that he believes games have the "potential to take us everywhere; the same places all art can take us."
He concluded with the following-
"If you walk into the National Gallery in London, you are presented with masterpieces of impressionism and glorious Dutch miniatures and so on... countless styles and forms of genius represented. One day it'll be like that for games... and we will be looking at these things the way we look at the great animated cartoons of Disney."
Clive Barker's Jericho is on the way to next-gen consoles, so Barker certainly has a reason to support the game's industry. However, considering Ebert's accomplishments and pedigree, we find it difficult to side with Barker...despite the fact we kinda agree with him, to some extent. Perhaps we could convince Ebert to agree that at least some aspects of video games are art? Like the visual development, storytelling, design, etc.? That would be a nice step in the right direction.
9/26/2007 Ben Dutka