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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ebert: video games still can’t be art

Film critic Roger Ebert recently reiterated his position that video games can never be art.

Thus far, there have been 3,660 comments on his blog entry, along with countless other replies elsewhere on the web. But the question remains: why? Ebert himself seems curious about this, saying, “Why aren’t gamers content to play their games and simply enjoy themselves? They have my blessing, not that they care. Do they require validation?”

For some (game designers, for instance), it’s perhaps a point of pride. Or perhaps people are just irritated that Ebert (once again a film critic) has seemingly declared himself an authority on art, in all its forms. The truth of the matter is that expecting a film critic to have a coherent opinion about video games makes about as much sense as asking for marital advice from Larry King. Ebert knows next to nothing about video games, so what makes his opinion worth listening to? He’s seen thousands of films, so one can infer he knows a thing or two about the medium. How many video games has he played? Two? Ten? Less? He doesn’t say.

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“The Pacific” not living up to expectations?

Variety critic Brian Lowry’s review of The Pacific – a miniseries about World War II  – was posted well before the series premiered; however, since half the episodes in the 10-part series have now aired, one can start to analyze his viewpoint.

Lowry’s reaction is mostly lukewarm to negative. His biggest complaint about The Pacific is it’s lack of cohesion. As he puts it, this disconnectedness, “makes the hours play more like loosely assembled snapshots of the war without a compelling hook to pull the audience along.”

His point is well taken. Though The Pacific really only has a handful of main characters, their personalities are slow to develop. For example, John Basilone is essentially a blank slate after the first episode – none of his character traits or defining characteristics are revealed. The second episode sees him perform a heroic action, but it comes out of the blue. We know what he did makes him a hero, but we don’t know anything else about him. His character is a cardboard cutout.

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