I know that Corvus is tired of all the discussion concerning Roger Ebert's spurning of videogames as a viable medium.
But I have to add some things.
The conceit that, since Mr. Ebert reviewed a single videogame years ago, he was thus gifted with the insight to write off an entire medium is the ultimate in snobbery.
I saw the movie Leprechaun 4. Based upon that viewing, it is clear to me that movies cannot be art. There were a few scenes of visual artistry (a leprechaun wielding a lightsaber), but all in all movies represent time wasted when I could have been bettering myself and culture by chiseling naked men out of marble. Shape them glutes!
The idea that authorial control is the dividing line for art is nonsensical. The idea that mutability of a medium is the dividing line for not-art is also nonsensical.*
He'll never visit my site, but I've compiled some very basic coursework with simple descriptions. Playing through a good deal of games on this list might give him a single leg to stand on:
Visually Awe-Inspiring Games
--Shadow of the Colossus
Not only for its unity of visual elements but also for the way it completely understates its very sequential narrative and puts the player in a state of moral ambiguity, subverting the dominant thrust of typical heroic videogame archetypes.
Fully psychedelic, creates an interactive synaesthesia.
Games That Maintain Strong Authorial Control
--Metal Gear Solid and its sequels
Well-known for its incredibly strict interpretation of story. My favorite is the third game, which was the most coherent -- the exploration of cold war themes, escalation and shifting alliances that connected with modern issues.
--Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
The twist with this one is that within its linear structure there was a strong element of time-manipulation -- one could call it postmodern, if one wished to be a prick.
Games That Assemble An Implied Narrative From Disparate Elements
Almost like abstract art. A Picasso, perhaps, wherein familiar yet loosely-defined elements lead to the viewer filling in the blanks, building up detailed backstories. With time always moving forward and the interplay of reaching historical milestones there was never a case of stagnation.
Similar to the above, though at a largely tactical level. Had one of the best unseen methods of constantly and consistently raising the challenge without relying on fixed points.
Games That Encourage Empathy
Yes, it's a glorified tamagotchi. Yes, that actually matters. People do form empathetic connections with them. Deal with it.
--The Sims 2
Well, this one probably encourages both empathy and sadism. Still, even if it's not your cup of tea, it's pretty easy to figure out that a living freaking dollhouse is an appealing idea to lots and lots of people.
Games That Are Even Now Altering Society
--World of Warcraft
You can't get that many people together without changing something. For better or for worse. Or both.
The creative side of the online gaming scene. Some artists would scoff at considering anything modeled on a computer to be art; Those artists are idiots.
--Pretty much any MMO
And it's only going to get worse. Worse as in farther-reaching.
Most of the games I've listed are somewhat recent. While I'm sure that Ebert could gush for hours over the simple propaganda of Potemkin, he probably would be completely unable to see anything of merit in any videogame classics. So that can be saved for a later class.
Then he needs to travel over to Grand Text Auto and brush up on interactive fiction and different varieties of text adventures.
Then he should go to Water Cooler Games and read up on games that explore social, political, educational and other issues.
Then try Avant Gaming and see what is happening on the cutting edge.
Also, he could go out on a huge limb and at least take a peek at some pen and paper RPGs. And I advise him to go beyond anything strictly munchkin or swords & sorcery.
Of course, none of this, I suspect, would alter Mr. Ebert's view. I assume some kind of cultural blind spot, a gut-reaction on his part that would lead him to conclude that videogames cannot make people more cultured, civilized or empathetic; On the flip side of this, then, is the assumption that somehow all dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers automatically make us more cultured, civilized and empathetic.
My hats off to you, Uwe Boll.
*I use mutability instead of interactivity, the latter seems to be the word most commonly employed when defining games. However, I feel that all media has interactive elements -- even if it's as basic as yelling at the screen MST3K style. Mutability, of course, has its own problems -- what to make of a DJ re-mixing songs on the fly? -- but that's a subject for another day.