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Phil Fish: The Misunderstood Man

Public exposure.

For those of us of the creative and artistic nature, it’s downright impossible to get noticed without exposing some of your quirks that, in all the strange aftermath, you’d rather have kept hidden. If there is any hope of success, you’ve got to continually put yourself out there, but such an act often leaves one quite vulnerable. Inevitably, you will receive criticism. Some of it will highly vitriolic. What matters is how you handle it. Some are able to withstand the immense pressure of maintaining a public persona, while others crumble. Phil Fish — creator of Fez — is apparently a crumbler.

Since Day One, Fish bared the brunt of hate the gaming community has stored in its deep emotional well. Think about it. What single person in the development community has been targeted the way Fish has? With all the hate swirling around him these days, it culminated in his most recent Twitter breakdown — which included the cancellation of Fez II.

I have one thing to say: why?

Well, he came off a bit unlikable in Indie Game: The Movie. You know, that film that covered probably the most stressful time of his life. Of course, there’s his poorly timed and crude critique of the state of Japanese games. A fair slight against the man. But do you know what his true fault is? His one big flaw? Well, since I’m so kind I’ll let you in on the secret.

He’s socially inept.


Time and time again, Fish has shown he can’t take criticism well, whether it be of the founded or unfounded nature. What’s worse is when one of the numerous loons in our community attacks him. Rather than shrugging it off and just accepting such things come with the territory, he ignorantly stoops down to the accuser's level. This was made very apparent in one of his most recent Twitter "debates."

Kevin Dent is despicable — if you don’t know who he is, look him up. It suffices to say that he is one of the most vile faces in the industry. Dent deserves every last drop of the criticism he receives, yet rather than properly critiquing, Fish belittled himself and joined in on Dent’s childish games. Now, he had some noble and respectable points. Fish was adding himself to the list of those who were fed up with Dent’s body of "isms" and went on an all out attack.

More recently — and what apparently caused his mental breakdown and eventual cancellation of Fez II — were the remarks made by Marcus Beer, AKA Annoyed Gamer. Once again, someone slung petty insults at Fish. Rather than ignore it, Fish lashed out, telling Beer to kill himself. While it was obviously one of those stupid things you say and regret a moment later, it was too late for Fish. The hate came rolling in, and the socially awkward game developer was experiencing a whole lot of social interaction of the not-so-pleasant variety.


Listen, I’m not here to claim Phil Fish isn’t childish, arrogant, or downright foolish at times. He is. What I’m trying to say is this: let’s take a moment to think about the situation before we outright damn the man. What is he known for doing that is so terrible? He doesn't handle being hated well. Yup, the man just wants some love. Sadly, he just fuels the fire for all those against him; every time he didn’t let something go and responded in a childish manner is just another log.

Honestly though, I think he’ll be back. He’s done this whole "I’m done" thing before. When he doescome back, what he needs to do is distance himself and learn from his mistakes. Look to people likeThomas Was Alone’s creator Mike Bithell. He’s been called a slew of filthy names, the nicest of which might be "pretentious." What does he do? He laughs it off. Or even Jonathan Blow, who was also targeted by Marcus Beer. How has Blow responded to Beer’s name-calling? He hasn’t.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t hate Phil Fish. Rather. I recognize that he is a man who struggles with some rather large issues, issues that I would like to see him overcome.


So my fellow gamers, here is what you need to do. Give Fish a second chance. There are people out there far worse than he that still operate within our beloved industry. Racists, bigots, sexists, homophobes, and all other sorts of wretched people who should be the ones on the firing end of your criticism. Notice I said criticism. Not hate.

When it comes down to it, Fish is simply that stereotypical nerd who has a tough time interacting with others, and so long as he works towards fixing the issues — which it appears he is already doing — I have no problem supporting any of his future creative endeavors. Fish, like all of us, isn’t perfect. It would be a real shame to lose a talented developer with so much potential because we failed to recognize and accept someone with real issues. 


This article was originally posted on Plus10Damage.com.

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