In our recent interview with Sam Barlow, he mentioned Roger Ebert famously (and infamously) slamming video games as artless, referring to a column he wrote in 2010. Obviously Barlow believes Ebert was dead wrong and insists there is an artful way to present viewers with an opportunity to interact with a story, but it’s all in the execution.
In a section that we left out of our interview for space, we talked about a long forgotten period in the 1990’s when interactive movies made something of a minor splash, but were mostly terrible. You can find a list of many of them here.
We laughed about films like Mr. Payback which implemented a kind of theater voting system, giving the audience some agency over mostly inconsequential choices in a rather slight story, and theorized that it was the wrong approach altogether.
Well, turns out we were not alone in this assessment. In doing some research for the piece, we found this old Siskel & Ebert episode where Roger Ebert slams Mr. Payback and interactive movies in general saying, “Interactivity looks as dead as a door nail.”
Suffice it to say that we hope with the rising interest in interactive movies and TV, the same mistakes aren’t made and some of IF’s big questions can be resolved to provide a rich experience rather than a disposable fad.