Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic — and video games as art opponent — Roger Ebert has died after a long battle with cancer, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. He was 70.
Ebert died Thursday, two days after he announced he was taking a "leave of presence" from the Sun-Times, the newspaper for which he had reviewed films for more than 40 years. Ebert wrote he was decreasing his output after doctors diagnosed him with cancer, which had resulted in a hip fracture. He wrote he was undergoing radiation treatment and detailed plans to return to work on new projects.
The film critic had previously battled cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland, which resulted in the removal of his jaw bone and the loss of his ability speak and eat.
In addition to being a prominent, celebrated film critic, author, screenwriter and liberal activist, Ebert was also an opponent in the argument that video games were an artform.
"To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers," Ebert wrote in 2005. "That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic."
Ebert's position lead him to spar with gamers and the occasional game developer, including thatgamecompany's Kellee Santiago. She wrote in response to Ebert's dissection of her "Video games ARE art" TED talk, "Art is in the eye of both the creator and the beholder. And as those two groups of people grow and change, so will the definition and perception of art."
In 2010, Ebert amended his position, writing, "I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself." He wrote about his inexperience with video games, but praised Softedge Inc.'s 1995 CD-ROM title Cosmology of Kyoto in Wired.
Earlier this week, Ebert wrote that he was planning to bring back the TV show "At the Movies," the film criticism program he once co-hosted with the late Gene Siskel. He announced his intention to launch a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter, adding, "And gamers beware, I am even thinking about a movie version of a video game or mobile app. Once completed, you can engage me in debate on whether you think it is art."
Ebert is survived by his wife Charlie "Chaz" Ebert.
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