A better question is if video games can be art. Roger Ebert says no. Almost everyone else in the world says yes.
Copying isn't art, it's craft. A really good craftsman can make a really convincing copy. Stencils are easy to copy because someone already made one, and all you have to do is make a copy of it.
What's the fucking controversy here?
Do you consider Warhol Campbell's Soup cans art or craft?
(Not picking a fight, trying to keep this thread on art)
Roger Ebert is a douche. Bioshock was a work of art, and I don't even like videogames.
Yeah, thus far the responses have been along the lines of painting Ebert as the stubborn old generation refusing to recognize new media. It happened with any major art movement. Cracked has a really good response up by Robert Brockway, and Tycho from Penny Arcade made a pretty compelling argument along the lines of if a hundred artists come together and create something, the idea that it somehow doesn't become art is an odd one.
But yeah, Bioshock is beautiful, everything from the art deco style of the city to the voice acting and storyline. I do like video games, and there's plenty of crap out there, but how is that different from movies?
I respect Ebert. He was among the first, and still really one of the few, critics who judge a movie on what it is meant to be instead of its actual worth. A generic action movie might get a good review from him if it's attempting to be a generic action movie and succeeds. He recognizes not every movie is meant for the Oscars or acclaim, and I think that's an excellent distinction to make. I think that's part of why the backlash is strong for his statements - he's a big name for sure, but he's also done a lot to make movie reviews accessible to everyone and not just snobs. And here he is being a snob. Essentially by his standards Transformers 2 is art, albeit failed art, and Bioshock doesn't even warrant being measured on its level.