Are Video Games Ert?

I have no idea how anyone can keep a straight face and call half of the bullshit at MoMA art while claiming that NO video game deserves that title.

There has been a big debate lately between Roger Ebert and the video game community on whether or not video games are art. In short, Ebert is a troll and should be ignored. Rather than rehash the argument though, I thought I’d repost an insightful analysis from Magical Wasteland. Thanks to Zach Weiner (from smbc-comics) for the great comic and to Matthew Burns for the hilarious post.

The New Debate on Games as Ert

A raging war of words that never seems to disappear for long, the eternal question “are games ert?” has reared its many-spectacled head yet again. On the first side we find those who passionately believe in the idea that games are indeed ert, and wish them to be viewed as such. On the other, the stridently dubious, who feel that games are not ert, and either cannot ever be it, or at least have many steps to go in order to become it.

It is well understood that ert is important and a big deal. Many people pay respect to ert– and as such, if games became ert, then respect would be paid to games. This means we could talk about what we do in good company by saying “oh, I make video games,” and our interlocutors would respond “oh, yes, games– they are a kind of ert, aren’t they?” And we all know that this is certainly not the case right now.

To confuse matters further, there is also a contingent who have spearheaded a kind of backlash against the question itself– games, they counter, should be about something else– having “fon,” apparently, and thus it is lamentable that anything else (especially ert) would be the concern of those who make games, particularly because the quality of being “fon” interferes with, or somehow contradicts, the quality of being ert. Which begs another important question: can games be both ert and fon at the same time?

Many further symposiums, blog posts and ert-fon diagrams will be necessary to answer the question definitively.

One Comment

  1. This post came at a really interesting time – I’ve been thinking about this whole ‘games as art’ idea for a few days, after avoiding the subject for a while. I’ve just finished the first of a two-part article on the topic, trying to find a more constructive approach to the issue than the simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that we usually see.

    You can find the post at

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