Never mind games as art, how about games as AI?

Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, got a lot of press in gaming columns last week by reiterating his views that games are not art. (Basically he thinks it is very key to art that the creator and not the viewer/player/reader should be in charge of the experience.)

And last week, a player created a structure in Dwarf Fortress that is a vast Turing Machine. Perhaps we can argue now instead that games are better than art. I’m also now pondering a set of posts documenting my attempts to learn to play Dwarf Fortress, since that is one of my goals this year.

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9 thoughts on “Never mind games as art, how about games as AI?

  1. Like you I have wanted to play Dwarf Fortress a bit…tried once and failed. I know a few other folk actively playing so….hmmm. Compare notes and versions etc?

    Like Angband its on my list of things to do (although I beat Moria so thats one ASCII under my belt)

  2. When will people learn to stop feeding the troll? I think Roger Ebert knows he can get a whole lot of attention from a young audience by beating that tired, old drum. Of course, young people have poor impulse control so many start foaming at the mouth to the sound of that drum.

    What he believes is immaterial in the long run, just as early naysayers of cinema aren’t relevant today. It’s funny, I was watching the Director’s Cut of Dark City where Ebert and other people directly involved with the film give commentary. A few commentators mentioned that a lot of what goes on in the movie happens not only in the minds of the creator (directory, writer, etc.) but also in the audience. So, it’s funny that Ebert will criticize games for focusing a bit more on the audience side. Most observant people will see there is still authorial intent found in “traditional” media, meaning that the creator is still a vital part of the process.

    In a way, I can’t believe that Ebert would be so stupid not to see that. So, I think at this point he’s just trolling. He just has the platform as a writer for a paper to troll on an epic scale.

    • Oh I agree. He’s already lost this argument, and in any case the question people should be asking is simply, “Would treating games as art help us produce better/more fun games?” (And I think the answer is yes and that it’s already happening.)

      But that turing machine is just the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen! When art can do that, we’ll do this discussion again properly.

  3. If you use Dwarf Fortress as example, um… I hope I will be able to follow you. My buddy Zweistein tries to explain it to me, but I always utterly fail to get wtf he is doing and why. :)

  4. I really wish public figures would stop commenting on subjects they have no knowledge of. Roger Ebert knows nothing about games and knows nothing about art. It’s no different than Jenny McCarthy speaking out against immunization.

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