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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Phil Fish Affair: Why both sides are acting like children.

If he actually ate a bullet next week, you wouldn't be surprised.

So anyone remotely interesting in gaming journalism has heard about Phil Fish's (developer of Fez) dramatic departure from the industry. A twitter exchange that will live in infamy (for 6 months at the most) exposed a raw nerve of an already outspoken independent developer. It all started with GT's podcast "invisible walls" particularly with Marcus Beer's segment on how Jonathan Blow (braid dev) and Fish chose to comment on Xbox One financially embracing the indie scene.

Fish and Blow acted like jerks, no question. They both appeared in the wonderful Indie Game: The Movie, officially making them even more prominent public figures in the gaming world. In fact its fair to say that its at least 60-70% Fish's movie. They're free to decline to comment, but they bit the hand that fed them so hard its a news story in of itself. That's where Marcus Beer comes in, a hilarious commentator with the best BS detector in the business. I agree with everything he says, but in this case I do not agree with his methods.

Years 2, my journalism professor drew me aside after I had turned in a review for The Other Guys. He liked it well enough, but he had issues with how I referred to Mark Wahlberg. You see, I called him by his real name once in the beginning, but for the rest of the review he was "Marky Mark." I told him I just thought it was funny, he shrugged and said, "Yeah but is he funny in the movie?" I said yeah. "Does he hold the movie back?" I said, no. "Well then, you're being a jerk for no reason."

A futurama reference, sure, but this is still miles away from stable behavior.

Beer makes a point about calling Fish "BlowFish" which is a pretty damn funny couple mash up name, but like "Marky" serves no real editorial purpose. Yes, if the both of them had their noses upturned any further they'd crack their necks, but it doesn't mean you need to spend ten straight minutes attacking their art and their character.

I'm not saying Beer is responsible for Fish's digital temper tantrum, but he sure as hell isn't blameless. We have no idea what's going on in Fish's life right now, it could be a waking nightmare, he could have been stood up at the alter for all I know. Maybe his life is fine and this balloon was going to pop eventually whether Beer said anything or not. But why be partially responsible for someone's public display of instability? I doubt that's what Beer wanted, and if I was ever responsible for something like that I'd try to do everything I could to patch it up.

In my knee jerk opinion, Fish's rambling rage-quit is just as childish as Beer's refusal to apologize. It doesn't matter if you're right and 90% of the internet agrees with you. Not to me, you really hurt someone, and you should at least try to shake his hand. Fish may not accept, but that's seriously not the point.

Subtle, he ain't.

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