Phil Fish: And Something of Value Was Lost
So, that's all, folks. Phil Fish left the game industry, cancelled his game, and that is that. Some might say "good riddance. Nothing of value was lost. What a crybaby". Others might be upset at the loss of Fez II. But what caused all this?
Most people who know the indie game scene know about Phil Fish. He's very outspoken, very rude, and very full of himself. He's received a lot of hate which some people might say he brings it on himself, but this latest debacle hardly seems like something he "brought on himself".
The provocation came when Marcus Beer of Game Trailers gave a non-stop 5 minute rant on the Invisible Walls show, not to comment on the game industry, but to personally attack two talented developers, insult them, curse at them, and assert that these two were terrible people just because they told Game Informer to stop asking them for comments on every weekly topic that sprung up. It wasn't even Game Trailers or any site Marcus Beer was affiliated with! Talk about journalistic white knighting of the most awful sort.
Beer's behavior was unprofessional and he deserves to be taken off Game Trailers. I know that sounds harsh, but we're talking about a paid staffer of Game Trailers who hijacked a show watched by tens of thousands simply to personally insult two people. What's worse is that he didn't show even a tenth of this outrage for actual gaming topics that matter, you know, like Microsoft's DRM fiasco or Sony charging for online multiplayer. Talk about integrity. And to make matters worse, he went on to say that because Phil Fish and Jonathan Blow refused to give quotes at the beck and call of the gaming press, all game press should boycott these two and not cover their games. Arrogant, ignorant, and terribly self-important. And if anyone STILL feels the need to defend Beer for his unprovoked attack, this is the same guy who said this about Hideo Kojima after Kojima showed off Metal Gear Revengence:
"If you wanna come and present a video at the video game awards in the US learn the ****ing language so you can say your speech...learn it...biggest ****ing insult of the night was him up there ****ing around not able to speak the language."
But my blog post isn't about Beer. What's done is done.
This blog post is about the avalanche of hate that poured out against Phil Fish from thousands of angry gamers. Between Steam, Fish's personal Twitter, here on N4G, the Polytron Co. website, and various gaming sites, tens of thousands of "who cares? F*** you" were uttered against him. People were quick to accuse Fish for "rage quitting" in response to Beer's unprofessional hack-job of a video, but that wasn't it at all. It was the thousands of people who flooded him with some of the most childish, inexcusable insults I've ever see on the internet, and we're talking about the INTERNET here. That's a pretty high bar to surpass.
Now, I'm not ignorant to the fact that Phil Fish replied to Beer (over Twitter, not on the main page of Gametrailers.com like Beer had) with his own brand of rude comments, but the fact remains that Phil Fish (and Jonathan Blow) was attacked, unprovoked. And the result wasn't just a nasty video posted on Game Trailers. It was the internet mob that grabbed their lengths of hanging-rope and took up Marcus Beer's mantle.
Here are a few choice quotes that came from Fez's Steam page, N4G, the Polytron site, and Fish's own Twitter (before it was taken down), and despite their edits, I actually tried to pick some of the 'cleaner' quotes. These aren't the worst quotes, believe it or not.
"Cry me a f***ing river you piece of s***"
"Nothing of value was lost"
"You are an embarassment. I hope you kill yourself with no friends to mourn you"
"Leave the game industry and never come back"
"Hahahaha get f***ed you pathetic f***ing blowhard. Fez was s*** by the way"
"Fez was s*** who would want more of your s***?"
"he deserves all the hate because he acted like such a f***ing d***"
That last one really got me. Really? It breaks my heart that people in this world actually believe someone deserves to be hated simply due to rude comments they made online.
This whole situation shows that on all sides - from the so-called "game journalists" like Marcus Beer all the way down to the common gamer - we have a lot of growing up to do. Have any of you met Phil Fish? Have any of you talked to him and gotten to know him? I'm not excusing his incredibly rude comments, not just recently but over the course of his entire career as a public figure in the indie scene. It's quite clear that he has a temper, but does that justify hundreds of people dog-piling him with thousands of vitriolic comments? Where's our sense of decency?
The sad thing...no, not sad. The downright disgusting and pathetic irony of it all is that we have an industry of journalists who leap at a chance to, for example, talk about how games can be art or stand up against "female oppression" in the videogame industry, but when it comes to Phil Fish? Oh, that guy said some rude comments on Twitter. He DESERVES this unprovoked attack. He DESERVES any hate that he gets. It's a terrible double standard. When a sexy female cosplayer gets harassed at a gaming convention, does the internet cry out with a unanimous "she brought it on herself"? When tackling gender equality issues, do our esteemed journalists say "well, women do a lot of dumb stuff, so it's not like they don't deserve the discrimination they face in the game industry".
But somewhere down the line, we can justify an ongoing, personal, vulgar assault against a game designer. Fish deserved it, right? It totally justifies people acting like schoolyard bullies, starting with Marcus Beer and ending with every single person who wrote "and nothing of value was lost". We justify our hate because Fish said hateful things, too? I mean, because Phil Fish said some really mean stuff a long time ago like "gamers are the worst f***ing people", that means it's completely okay for gamers to act like the worst f***ing people, right? Makes sense to me...
I already know the excuses. I already know the stuff Phil Fish has said. And I agree that it was totally childish of him to rage-quit the game industry. But then again, the guy has been putting up with nearly-daily verbal abuse for over a year and a half now. No human being deserves to be treated this way, especially not by game industry "journalists" whose jobs can only exist when people create videogames. I'd probably get fed up and quit, too. What's even worse is that this Phil Fish situation occurred during another prime example of stunning journalistic integrity. Several days ago, a Tweet came out saying Eurogamer/Digital Foundry had a story about the PS4's RAM coming out and it would cause some drama, but they were waiting for Sony to comment. But then, the story comes out anyway, saying that PS3 has 4.5 Gigs of RAM for gaming. Well, then the author stealthily changed that after Sony's reply came (you know, the reply Eurogamer was supposedly waiting for). And even after Digital Foundry's edit, there are still PS4 developers and industry insiders saying "nope. That number is still too low". My point is that all of this paints our esteemed game journalists in a poor light.
I guess I have to ask those who thought it was okay to attack this guy: what did he do to YOU? Yes, YOU, specifically YOU! What has Phil Fish ever done to you? And if your excuse is the rude comments he made to the public (but not to you, specifically), gee whiz, kinda ironic that gamers everywhere are telling this crybaby rage-quitter to "grow a thicker skin" and "deal with it or leave". Kinda sad that you justify the ongoing hate-parade against another human being just because that person said some really rude stuff to the internet. Grow a thicker skin indeed.
What's done is done. The children went outside to play, they bullied the loudmouth and pushed the loudmouth down to the sidewalk, and the loudmouth went home crying with skinned knees and took his toys with him. And then the other kids laughed and pointed their fingers. The bullies won, and the loudmouth finally went home, never to come outside with his toys again. "Victory!" the children chanted. "Victory!"
But the tragedy is that no one won. We're not supposed to be acting like children, not us, not journalists, not Fish. There's no excuse for anyone who participated in this mob-lynching. I've seen rampant fanboyism and shilling and blind loyalty in the game industry, but this was different. This was a disregard of basic respect for another human being. This was a mockery of any shred of "journalistic integrity" our industry had. This sent the message that it doesn't matter what sort of games you make or what you contribute to gaming, because f*** you Phil Fish you made rude comments on Twitter and now you deserved to be verbally assaulted by hundreds of strangers for months on end until you snap and quit your job, depriving people of the chance to play your next game.
But he deserved it, right?
The game industry - from journalists to gamers to Phil Fish himself - should be ashamed. Phil Fish rage-quit the game industry.
And something of value was indeed lost.
Our human decency.