I wonder if Mr. Ebert expects expects films to be viewable in their original media in 500 years. What with periodically-changing film sizes and speeds, and now digital video codecs, Ebert's own favorite art form doesn't seem particularly "eternal" either. In fact, just like video games, the only ways to appreciate old films are to 1) preserve the associated film player, or 2) convert the film to the new format. Sure, you could bust open the film reel, hold it up to a light, and look at it frame by frame, but that goes against the artist's intended viewing scenario, something Ebert considers extremely important.
Perhaps Ebert realizes all this, but thinks that the contents of the film (if not the physical medium) is safe from the ravages of time. After all, there are works 100 years old which can be enjoyed by film buffs even to this day!
Mr. Ebert might notice other points where video games are plainly different and not-at-all-identical to film:
- Most of the best-selling titles are devoid of artistic statement, and simply exist to entertain audiences and make profit.
- The market is currently (and has been for most of its history) controlled by a handful of big studios, who often re-hash ideas, bring back "stars" from previous titles, and inflate prices in order to make an extra buck.
- Studios think that new titles must provide ever-increasing levels of special effects, features, and gimmicks in order to continue to attract new audiences.
- Only a small number of independent producers exist, and most indie titles fly under the radar of the general audience, with only the very occasional title getting noticed and becoming a "cult classic" or even a public sensation.
Which brings me to my point: does Ebert intentionally ignore the obvious similarities between film and video games, or is he simply too ignorant of the history of video games to see them in the first place?