By MrMazz 63 Comments
What we need, as I said in an earlier column, is our own Andrew Sarris, Leonard Maltin, Pauline Kael, Judith Crist, Manny Farber, David Thomson, or Roger Ebert. We need people in mainstream media who are willing to fight with each other (not literally, of course) about how games work, how they reflect and affect culture, how we judge them as art as well as entertainment. We need people who want to explain games, individually and generically, as much as they want to judge them. We need what might be called mainstream critical theorists.
Warren Spector dreams of an age when places like the New York Times (beyond the Totillo stuff) covers video games the same way they do film. While I think hoping that video games in particular find their Ebert to be a bit misguided, I really wouldn't mind more coverage of Games in the LA times.
Video Games can't have another Ebert because no one else is getting another Ebert. Which is a shame. I LOVED Roger Eberts writing and TV work. If it weren't for him I wouldn't be going into Film/media studies at this very moment. But what he represents, a highly accepted critic embedded in the mainstream, isn't likely to happen again or at least not on a large scale. He was also a LOT more than just the thumbs up or down guy on TV. He was a great writer who spent years writing for Chicago Sun-Times and published many books. Than once his voice left him made the jump to the digital space better than anyone his age ever did. Guys like that don't come along very often.
Video Games don't really make for good TV. No, it isn't that G4 failed. The regmimented way broad and cable cast television is presented has strict deadlines. Unless you have perfect demos that encapsulate a game in 30 seconds of montage, it would be hard to encapsulate a game in a 5-10 minute conversation. Also the amount of time necessary for both hosts to just play all the games they were going to talk about would be emence. These things create lag in production and an inability to change midstream to talk about recent developements. Things Adam Sessler, now at Rev3Games, has complained about his time at G4. Even than with his weekly shows like Spoiled Games (on the Internet) it's hard to do.
Maybe if things started small there would be enough lead time to work out the kinks. Ebert started out on a public broadcast station where the show grew and eventually became syndicated nationwide. With his co-hosts Gene Sskel and Richard Roeper he had frank thoughtful discussions on the latest (and some older) films. These weren't high falutin discussions they were ones everyone could understand.
I would love for Gaming to have it's Roger Ebert. I'm just not going to wait holding his bag. Where Warren gets it 100% right is the want for video game writing like he sees in the New York and I see in the LA Times about Film,TV, and Art. Print is dead but those are still institutions that will stick around, giving their content prestige and validation.