Monday, July 29, 2013

Indie developers of America: Something to be ashamed of.

at 12:35 PM
edit, later in the day: I renamed this post because it doesn't seem appropriate to single out Fish - I only chose him because he's the one that spurred this reverie (with the Fez 2 news). As discussed in the post, everyone on that panel is equally culpable for their ignorance and inability to either name a modern Japanese game or acknowledge that they haven't played many.

So I haven't followed anything related to Phil Fish or his Fez sequel, as I've yet to get around to playing the first game, but I noticed that he's been stirring up quite a bit of drama over the past week. I was surprised and a bit curious, as all I knew of Fez was that it had been well-received and relatively successful. Soon I learned that Fish is not exactly popular, and found my way to the video below. It's hard to watch, but seriously, tough it out - you'll learn just how hard you can cringe.

Like it or not, you've gotta admit: Fish has a point.

Wait a minute, no he doesn't.

What bothers me isn't so much that Phil Fish, Fat McMillen, and Baldy McGoo think that Japanese games suck. They're entitled to their own dumbass opinions that they can feel free to shit all over Tweeter, the Internet, and their personal friends and family. It's not even that Fish (and the rest of the panel, bursting into laughter) were flat-out rude to a respectful stranger with a genuine question. It's that this panel is meant to be representative of indie developers (implicitly "of America"), and it should be an honor both to sit on it and to have young lads such as this questioner seek their opinion. Being placed on such a pedestal is inherently validating. To use such a platform to spout conceited ignorance paints the entire indie community as conceited and ignorant, making me personally feel ashamed to support or associate with it. These are the people that represent us?

It takes it to the next level that they addressed this opinion about Japanese games to a Japanese game developer. It's nice to know that the indie devs of America feel comfortable lumping all Japanese games into one category - I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I likewise told them their games suck because they're all boring assembly line military shooters and open-world minigame-fests? In failing to contextualize their absolute stereotypes, they as near as explicitly said: "your game sucks, because you are Japanese, and all Japanese games suck" - which tells me that not only are these dipshits ignorant, they're radically elitist. You can't be one of them, because you are held back by invisible hands to which they are not subject

One would imagine an indie developer would have at least the courtesy to acknowledge the difference between mainstream and indie Japanese games, yet these guys come out swinging with Skyward Sword as their only example. Sorry - can we stop the conversation right there? You've just evidenced your ignorance - why not be honest and admit that your perspective on Japanese gaming is severely limited? The way-too-late catch-all "don't blog about this, there are exceptions" doesn't count - mentioning Street Fighter IV doesn't exactly give me confidence in the breadth of your knowledge. I'm not saying everyone needs to know about Japanese games, or even that these guys should - one man can only play so many games, and I couldn't care less which he chooses. The line into retard-ignorance is crossed when they start passing judgment on a culture of which they've chosen to be ignorant. Listening to Baldy condescendingly hand out a lesson about tutorials makes me feel like I'm listening to Christian missionaries in the 17th century trying to educate "savages"; "we don't know about your ways, so they are Wrong".

I'm not even going to get into how arbitrary these guys' accusations of Japanese games are (whining about interfaces? aren't indie developers supposed to be actualizing the artistic aspect of the medium, not the menu aspect?), but I can't end the conversation without pointing out that Fish's Fez is aesthetically a 100% clone of Cave Story, a Japanese indie game eight years older than his own. That he so shamelessly plagiarized his work doesn't terribly surprise me (sorry, it's rampant in the industry), but that he then had the audacity to indict the culture from which he stole as "behind the times" is shocking beyond the point of comedy. 

I was going to check out Fez at some point, just out of my general personal obligation to support indie games, but at this point I'd burn in hell sooner than put a dime into Fish's purse. Someone with so little respect for the medium and his position in it doesn't deserve to be sustained by it. While I certainly don't think a creator's mantra should have any effect on the perception of their work, it very well has an effect on my willingness to pay them for it (that is to say, Fez isn't necessarily a bad game because Fish is a tard, but it is now a game I won't pay to play).

There's a bit of a happy ending to the story: Fish canceled Fez 2 and quit the industry because of the Internet Bitchslap handed to him over this and some other "vitriolic" (i.e. "idiotic") comments he's made in the last few weeks. And no, the industry doesn't "need" people like Fish who "speak their minds", as many shitbrains like Cliff Gearzinski have declared in his defense in the wake of the Fez 2 meltdown. The industry needs people who play games (you'd be surprised how few developers do) and are willing to admit that they don't know everything. The entire reason the mainstream industry (both in the US and Japan) is so backwards is that it's led by imbeciles like Cliffy B, Blow, and Fish - morons with their heads jammed so far up their own assholes that they don't realize anyone else is out there making games. 


  1. To be fair, the savages in the 17th were wrong. The missionaries got that right.

  2. well now its just a big ol boner killer that i cant watch the video.