Phil Fish, performing an Andy Kaufman-esque villain online, can be seen as an asshole. And it’s perfectly reasonable to think so. However, many have pledged not to buy FEZ because they don’t like Phil Fish. They argue that buying his game would support his attitude.
This is a fallacy. Responding to Phil online is supporting his attitude. Buying his game is supporting his artistry. FEZ is a brilliant game, no matter the creator. It’s personally my favorite game of all time, considering it creates a realistic manifestation of how a real 2D world would work. Everyone not playing this game is robbing themselves of understanding video games on a deeper level.
So we need to approach this in a mature way. Do you know how to make a rotten child act better? You praise what it does well and don't play into their traps.
We need to altogether stop responding to Fish’s trolling and play his game. It’s safe to say that he needs some time away from the indie game scene. But never completing FEZ 2 is likely a huge blow to the history of games.
I am Phil Fish, You are Phil Fish, He/She/It is Phil Fish
I understand that I am extremely late (in modern internet terms) for the Phil Fish deal, but having just watched Indie Games: The Movie, I feel I may have a fresh perspective on the ups and downs of game design and the consequences of fame.
If you have not yet seen this film, I’d highly suggest you watch it. It’s available on Netflix streaming, and surely other streaming sites as well. The film follows the lives of four independent game creators: Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Super Meat Boy, Jonathon Blow of Braid, and, of course, Phil Fish of Fez.
I went in to the film not exactly knowing what to expect. I’m working on my extended essay for the International Baccalaureate program with a focus in the psychology of games, so I figured perhaps a beneficial procrastination would be possible by watching the documentary. However, it did not take me long into the film to realize that it clearly focused more of the psychological states of those creating the games rather than those simply playing the games; but, by that point, it was too late to quit. I was to invested.
I really connected to Phil Fish from his introduction. He seemed similar to me in an intrinsic way- passionate, dedicated, and connected to his work on a largely emotional scale. He was a hardcore fanboy, having loved games since his early childhood, and donning a fez to wear while accepting pre-release awards for Fez’s art way back in 2008. The more I saw of Fish, the more I wanted him to succeed. He essentially taught himself pixel art in the creation of Fez. He lost his funding for the game but kept working. He dramatically lost his business partner but kept trekking. An abundance of personal tragedies is scattered through the production of Fez. All the while, Fish carried on; perhaps not calmly, but carried on no less.
Fez is, by all effective terms, Fish’s baby. Years of work dedicated to this incredibly personal project. Glitches were overcome, big guys in the industry were impressed, and an amazingly beautiful and relaxing game experience was created.
That’s the thing. Can you imagine creating something so awesomely beautiful and having people barrage it with hate and NOT going absolutely crazy over that? Phil Fish put a piece of his freaking soul out into the world for other people to experience, and a lot of people practically ran it over with semis.
Phil Fish is a game creator. He is a public figure. At heart, though, he is, like all of us, a human being.
Human beings most generally do not take well to hatred. You can argue that there are people in the world that have handled hatred better than Phil Fish, and that would be a valid argument; however, you should consider that the majority of humanity, if placed in a similar situation, would have acted in a similar way.
A giant piece of your life is tortured mercilessly for years. Every single time you’re opinion is passionate or against the grain someone makes another mean spirited meme of you. The internet is a cruel place, and you know it.
So, Fish does what I’d have done. He leaves. He’s done. He’s done by what we, collectively, as the internet community, have done to him. We judged his every word and action. We tortured his baby.
It is often suggested that, when a situation becomes toxic, you should make an attempt to exit that situation. The toxicity of the Phil Fish situation is mind blowing. He did what every high school counselor or personal therapist would suggest one do in such a situation- he removed himself. I will not judge him for this.
It royally sucks the Fez II won’t come out, but we can’t blame Phil Fish for this. I know this is a cliche, but the problem’s not the single gear- it’s the system. The internet contributed to this cancellation at least equally, if not more, than Fish’s quirky personality ever did.
I know this post will probably be lost amongst all the Phil Fish hate, and amongst all the That’s 70’s Show gifs of Fez, but I still felt the need to put this out there. If one other person sees this, maybe he or she will realize that maybe that shouldn’t be such freaking jerks. You can have your opinion, but don’t use it to break people.