The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on July 8, 2010

Hoo boy, what a way to come back to substantive posting.

Ebert’s little ‘Video games or Huck Finn‘ turned up some pretty ‘interesting’ results. Well, even a sarcastic ‘interesting’ overstates it, since the results were pretty obviously skewed so the voters could prove a point. What the point could be, aside from ‘easily manipulatable polls are easily manipulatable’, is a little lost on me. Even Ebert recognizes that an online poll is essentially worthless.

The main problem I see with his recent campaign is that seems to be, as James Urbaniak posted on Twitter (I refuse to call it ‘tweeting’), just comparing apples and oranges. The question of whether someone ‘valued’ any great video game over Huckleberry Finn just seems pointless. Value in what way? It also seems strange to use one specific novel, even if it’s one of the most influential American novels in history (and no, I haven’t read it. Maybe I will one of these days. Maybe. I’m not making any guarantees.)

Even so, if I were to have voted in the poll, I would vote for Finn. To use another one of Ebert’s scenarios, I too would sacrifice every game in existence for Shakespeare. Not that these exaggerated A-or-B questions are particularly insightful, but I still have a stand on these things. The thing is, as much as I have loved video games and continue to be an avid game enthusiast, I know their place in the canon of human thought.

I tried reading the comments, but within the first dozen I found myself pained by the pro-game arguments. I see the ‘you need to play them to realize they are art’ bit (Ebert already admitted that he shouldn’t comment on them without much play time, much to the delight of slow news day blogs everywhere), or the ‘well, GAME X is art’ (which, as has been established isn’t how it works; if one game is art, all games are art), or bringing pop culture into a discussion about art (the two are intertwined, but not the same thing). Worse, we get a bunch of people saying Huck Finn isn’t relevant to today’s youth or whatever, which is all kinds of fucked, whether they’re right or not. In any case, I see the same whining, the same illogic, and the same need for validation, even among people who seem generally more intelligent.

In short, video games are the worst.

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