You happy now, guys?
Thanks to an unrelenting onslaught of hate speech on par with anything that results in a teen’s suicide, Phil Fish, creator of beloved indie game Fez and one of the main subjects studied in Indie Game: The Movie, has not only canceled the sequel, he is quitting the entire industry.
Let’s forget for a second that gamers, no matter how often or not they play, can be some of the nastiest motherfuckers on the planet when it comes to discussion. Take a minute to look at YouTube comment threads about something as simple as which Halo is the best of the series.
Now Google “Phil Fish” and see what comes up.
I have talked more than enough about how much I enjoyed this film, and while there is more than one side to Phil Fish’s story, the way he lays bare his deepest fears and personality flaws in front of the camera truly resonated with me. Fish is not an athlete or a blue-collar guy with a degree or work experience to fall back on if Fez did not succeed; he is a game designer, period.
While Team Meat seemed much more approachable than Fish or Jonathan Blow, none of these people asked to be celebrities with sudden spotlight on their every action. The very concept of a documentary on independent game makers sounds like a stretch, and for it to have become as popular as it has is as amazing as the three games profiled in the film. This put the developers on a pedestal and made them the go-to voice for quotes on their end of the industry, a role they are not interested in filling if you look at any of their Twitter accounts.
This past Friday, an episode of the “Invisible Walls” video podcast from GameTrailers featured a tangent from Marcus Beer, aka Annoyed Gamer, a generic tagline if there ever was one. Regarding Blow’s and Fish’s negative reactions to Game Informer’s attempts to get comments from them, Beer threw around the terms “tosspot” and “fucking hipster” after begrudgingly uttering the phrase “INDIE game designers” as if it were Voldemort’s name.
That, by the way, was a science fiction/fantasy reference, something Beer and a lot of other people did not appear to recognize when Fish decided to respond to Beer and all of his critics before telling us all to fuck off and rage quitting the industry.
How much does a person have to put up with? Ever since the film was released, Fish has been vilified, slandered and bullied by anyone with an internet connection and a smirk in their fingers. It gets really fucking old and, above all, kind of sad when a game designer’s choice of clothing and headwear are more known and criticized than the actual game they made.
I shouldn’t be too surprised at this, considering our frothing at the mouth over the birth of a fucking royal child, but does this nonsensical utter shit have to ooze its way into the world of gaming, and indie games at that? How many of these “gamers” spend more of their time commenting in threads than actually playing the fucking games they enjoy shitting on in threads?
Fish took a giant risk in exposing himself the way he did. He had already closed his Twitter account once previously, citing the gossip on him from social media users and saying it made him feel “so fucking naked and constantly under attack” after everyone formed a perception of him based on Indie Game: The Movie. He is obviously uncomfortable with the amount of attention he now gets, positive or negative, from the entire community and industry. I cannot be the only one to notice this, and I have a hell of a hard time believing Beer didn’t pick up on this himself.
Fez was meant to be a joyous experience, a place to go to be happy. You don’t shoot anyone in the head, you don’t bash anyone in the balls and nobody says “fuck you” to anyone. Fish shared that part of his creative vision with us and gave us a game that was, simply, a joy to play. I was looking forward to seeing what else Fish had in mind for us, and while I will not attribute the game’s cancellation entirely to Beer, he sure as hell lit a spark.
If this was the “Annoyed Gamer’s” idea of doing his job, from one creative person on the goddamn internet to another, get another act. There is a way to pull off humor when playing or otherwise experiencing games; Jim Sterling, Rooster Teeth and its spinoff Achievement Hunter have been doing it for years and doing it well. I would ask if I am getting too old for the gaming industry if I think being a hard-drinking ranter is old hat, but I’m pretty sure Marcus Beer has been around for longer than I have.
Fish said one thing in particular that I thought interesting: the fact that Beer, other than spewing bile out of his mouth in the form of a video-enhanced commentary, has never contributed anything to the industry himself. Fish went on to engage in the same sort of mudslinging Beer himself started, but at the end of the day, who is Beer aside from yet another “opinionated” writer/journalist/whatever the fuck you want to call this sort of person in regard to gaming? Were I to change this column into a video about nine minutes long with a drink in hand, I would be on the same level, minus a few thousand Twitter followers.
Finally, Fish asked Beer for an apology on camera. Whether or not this request remains on the record is uncertain; if Fish is indeed done and Fez 2 is no more, I see no reason for him to appear at PAX in September. Again, I do not accuse Beer of sole responsibility, but if retrospect kicks in, maybe a simple “mea culpa” on Twitter would suffice.