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Books are not art, again.

Roger Ebert has posted once again a treatise on video games not being art. He has points, and he has unique perspectives. Nevertheless, here is the response I sent him.

Books are not art. The oral tradition is art. The idea that what is contained in performance — the grand gesture, the rising and falling of the voice, the vitality, the spontaneity, the ability to evolve and vary with each telling, the different spin created by each storyteller — can be recreated in the written word — with its inability to change, its inability to jump and speak aloud — is preposterous. Can you imagine a future in which children read The Odyssey out of books? It’s unconscionable! You don’t read The Odyssey! You have an experienced storyteller sing it to you!

Video games unquestionably contain several components that are art by definition. Digital painters design the sprites and environments. Animators design the movements. Painting with pixels, building with vector-based polygons. Composers and sound engineers design all of the sounds. Authors write story lines, dialog, and in-game literature. Why shouldn’t the sum total be a work of art? Or really, what would you require of a game, specifically, in order for it to be a work of art? Outline something here for us to show us what would be both a video game and a work of art in your opinion.

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