A Way Out developer Josef Fares has talked about Roger Ebert's views on video games as art, refuting the critic's views on the medium as a whole. Ebert stirred up controversy in in 2010, when he stated that "video games cannot be art," and his article on the matter opened up a discussion on the matter and whether video games as a whole could ever be considered art.
This view has grown more outdated by the year, and some of the work Fares has created certainly points towards video games as art. The developer, who was previously a filmmaker before turning to video game creation, made 2013's Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which is considered one of the best examples of art in video games. This year's A Way Out follows suit, with the cooperative-only multiplayer game from Hazelight Studios and EA packing a major emotional punch.
Clearly, Ebert's opinions on video games are something that Fares has felt the need to dispute. Speaking with IGN, Fares discussed Ebert's views on games as art, stating the critic "was absolutely wrong" about the nature of video games. "Nothing personally against him, but that was - I don't even talk to people who say games are not art. It doesn't even make sense. It's so insanely stupid," continued the developer.
Fares went further, criticizing the idea that video games can never be considered art. "It's like saying to me, 'Hey, I'm stupid. Do you want to talk to me?' 'Yeah, sure. Let's talk, but about something else.' So I don't even take that seriously." The developer has always been willing to speak his mind, so such strong opinions shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, this is the same man that called out EA and the Oscars in a profanity-laden speech at The Game Awards.
In truth, the idea that video games can never be art was effectively debunked by the time Ebert made his well-known argument. Every year, multiple games see release that could be considered art, whether underrated indie gems heavy with aesthetic beauty and nuanced imagery or blockbuster releases. Indeed, the level of interactivity that video games require means that they can reach levels that some other art forms cannot.
A Way Out is a prime example of this. By keeping the game as a cooperative experience, the player is always relying on the support of another party, meaning there's an emotional impact greater than what could be created as a lone participant. When married to a great story, it's no surprise to see Fares having an intense reaction to the video games as art argument.