This past weekend Phil Fish, creator of the popular Indie game “Fez,” has announced that he is quitting production of Fez II. While he says it’s not the result of one thing, the announcement came after harsh and vulgar criticisms by Gametrailers’ Marcus Beer during the Invisible Walls podcast, which resulted in a Phil Fish meltdown on Twitter (caution: foul language), protecting his Twitter account and resigning from the gaming industry entirely.
There are multiple sides to this whole debacle, many of which muddle the lines between support for either Marcus Beer or Phil Fish. First, there’s the criticisms from Beer. Yes, he was overtly harsh in his words against Fish over his belittling interviews over Xbox One’s proposed self publishing news. Nonetheless, Marcus Beer is allowed to give his opinion, especially on a podcast discussing everything that is gaming news. It is not his responsibility to protect the feelings of those in the gaming industry. It may not be wise professionally to attack the indie game developer in such a way, but at the same time it’s increasingly rare for someone to express a negative opinion about a member of the gaming industry in such a public way. He should be able to speak his mind and deal with the consequences, positive or negative.
It’s not exactly like Phil Fish is a saint, himself. In fact, on numerous occasions he’s answered detractors with harsh vulgarities, and even responded to Beer on Twitter with the suggestion of killing himself (caution: foul language for both). He’s an arrogant, egotistical man who constantly puts himself above others, even to the point of slamming modern Japanese games in the face of a freelance Japanese game programmer, before Fez was even released as a completed project and despite Fish admittedly being inspired by Japanese games. This recent outburst is just one in many instances where Fish can’t rein in his own emotions to the point of flying off the handle.
The fact is that Phil Fish is a grown man in his late-20′s who has experience in dealing with people in a personal matter and in the online domain. If you go on internet forums, on Twitter or even speak in interviews and sling vulgarities, display selfish and egotistical behavior or insult your customers and fans (especially when the game you’re so high and mighty about isn’t even completed), people are going to react to that in kind. You can’t play the victim card when you are putting yourself out there in such a negative light. He should absolutely know better than that by now.
I understand that Phil Fish has received an onslaught of hate, some of which has been going on for years. However, he is not a special case. There are literally thousands of people who are more visible in the entertainment industry which thousands more online detractors than him that are much more critical in their harassment. Phil’s problem is that he takes it upon himself to respond to a lot of them, often going over the top in retaliation and stooping down to the trolls’ level. The inability to carry himself with tact, understandably, multiplies the numbers that become angry with him. That exact reason is why so many companies hire public relations professionals and social media gurus; to have a third party representative be the voice who won’t take the indignant vitriol thrown at them personally.
I hope that Fish stays off Twitter completely, maybe even shutting down his Twitter account. Being active in social media has not done him much good in the past, nor will it do him any good in the future. If he truly wishes to leave the gaming he has a golden opportunity to do so. The game Fez did wonderfully in terms of sales, more so during the Summer Steam Sale. If he does plan to return to complete the project I also hope that he does so behind closed doors, for his sake. That way, he would be able to slowly restore his respect within the gaming community and attempt to create a remarkable follow-up to a fabulous game. But, if it turns out that he publicly quit to return later as a deliberate, childish marketing ploy, may he reap what he sows.