Personally, (and this may or may not surprise you) I struggle to effect any interest in this debate either way. So what if games aren't art? And I certainly think that Ebert is correct when he asserts that:
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.
At least as far as the most mainstream or mainstream-styled are concerned, games are almost universally immature and/or simplistic. (I might actually point to Galatea and some other interactive fiction games as possible counter-examples.) But what's really grabbed my attention here is just why Ebert considers that games aren't art: because they're interactive. Because the artist creates something which is then altered by the person who attempts to appreciate it.
Cards on the table: I don't really understand what art is in the first place. As Wikipedia snappily puts it:
The most common usage of the word "art," which rose to prominence after 1750, is understood to denote skill used to produce an aesthetic result. Britannica Online defines it as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others."
By these definitions, the term 'art' is definitely inclusive rather than exclusive. Computer games are certainly 'art' in this fashion, as are Mills and Boone romances, newspaper comic strips and pornographic movies. The exclusive variant of the word 'art' on the other hand, never fails to confuse me in terms of what it chooses to allow under its umbrella and what it turns its nose up at. Jack Vettriano's paintings aren't allowed into the club, but an unmade bed is. By Ebert's decree of non-interactivity, however, an unmade bed upon which visitors to the exhibit were encouraged to lie down would also fail to measure up.
To me, as someone whose first love is external reality (and by extension, science), this can't help but seem hopelessly subjective, relative and personal. No-one can really define art in objective (mathematical, for example) terms, so 'art' is whatever it means to you. Why then, do people make factual pronouncements like 'art can't be interactive', instead of providing personal opinions such as 'something that is interactive can't be art to me'?
Does anyone have any wisdom to offer me? Do you believe that art can't be interactive, that it's sole purpose is to provide a one-way conduit of ideas from creator to consumer? Do you have a definition for art that is both objective and exclusive?