I examined Ebert's comments back when he made them and thought about them after the initial knee-jerk reaction of "YES THEY ARE!!!!" and, sadly, also agreed.
My reasoning is that video games *contain* art. but can't be considered art as a *whole*.
Think about it. A museum *contains* art. However museums themselves, as a whole, are *not* art. Walking through a museum isn't a piece of art, although there are quite a few pieces of art within it. The art within the museum, however, can be removed from the museum and *still* contain as much of that quality deemed as artistic as they did within the museums. Video games, then, are containers of various bits of art. Be they the graphics, the storylines, the music or what have you are each *individually* easily labeled as art, however the video game as a *whole* was not something I could consider to be art.
Of course, this is just based on the dozens/hundredish games that I've personally played. Perhaps, out there is a game where the very control scheme, the experience as a whole, not the story, not the designs, not the music, but a combination of them all in tandem with the gameplay mechanics/control scheme/what have you combine in such a way that there's some form of gestalt, delivering a final experience with resonates with my very soul, but I don't see that happening with anything I've played as is.
Yes, some stories are amazing and touch the soul, but that's merely the story. Yes, some of the graphics are evocative of something ephemeral, but that's just the graphics. Yes, some music is truly awe inspiring and shakes the foundations of my being, but that's just the music. The story or the graphics or the music or even the combination of the three does *not* constitute an actual game. Those things could be separated from the game itself and still hold the same power as they did within the game, perhaps even becoming *stronger* without the necessity of gameplay interrupting the story. Games involve gameplay, anything else is just a movie. And I have not ever seen a game where everything, *together*, combined into something that reflected the human spirit.
Sorry friends. Games are not art. Games *contain* art, and some are quite amazing. However games as a whole are not art. Or...at least not yet.
You should play "Flower". It's pretty much a "everything comes together" experience.
Base 8 is just like base 10, if you are missing two fingers. -- Tom Lehrer