Fez developer Phil Fish acts like a twat at GDC

The pouting spectre of indie pretentiousness rears its dismissive head at GDC in a discussion about modern Japanese games.

GDC, the annual convention for game developers and other games industry professionals, is in full swing in San Francisco this week. It’s a time to network with other devs, share tips and tricks, show off the cool stuff you’ve been working on and drink until your liver bursts. If you happen to be Phil Fish, developer of yet-to-be-released indie platformer Fez, it’s also a great opportunity to act like a giant pretentious arsehole.

Lil’ Fish caused a bit of a stir during the Q&A session following a screening of Indie Game The Movie, a positive feel-good flick about Fish and other indie luminaries like Edmund McMillen as they strived to achieve their indie dreams. The film was so well-received by the crowd they gave it a standing ovation that set a nice positive tone for the ensuing discussion. All was going pleasantly enough until an unknown Japanese developer took the mic to ask a question. After saying how pleased he was to see how many indie developers had been inspired by games like Super Mario Bros and Zelda, he then made the mistake of asking what the panel though of modern Japanese titles. Phil Fish immediately responded with this shimmering pearl of divinely-inspired wisdom.

“Your games just suck.”

Come now Phil, don’t be coy. Tell us all what you really think. Share with us all the heavenly gnosis you have accrued over four years of development on a game you still haven’t released. A game with remarkably similar mechanics to Super Paper Mario, from that relatively unknown independent Japanese developer Nintendo, which Fish has previously called “a terrible game”. Fish continued answering the Japanese dev’s question with a string of criticisms about game design flaws in Japan, so perhaps we can write off that initial blunder of an opening as just that, right? Well no. You see another member of the panel was Braid creator Jonathan Blow, himself no stranger to bouts of pretentiousness (that guff about the atomic bomb in Braid meant bugger-all and you know it). Blow also knows his shit though, and he has manners to boot.

According to Ben Sironko, a Miami University student in attendance, Blow’s own thoughts on the flaws of modern Japanese games were “way more constructive” than those of Fish. Another arrow in Jonathan Blow’s quiver is that he’s actually released a game and is presently working on his next one, The Witness. You know who else have actually released games? Edmund McMillen, Terry Cavanagh and Derek Yu to name a handful. So has Daisuke Amaya, the Japanese chap behind indie smash hit Cave Story. A game widely acclaimed as one of the best indie titles you can get and one of the greatest things to come out of Japan in recent years.

Saint Philip of Canada.

Look we all know Japanese games development has issues it needs to address if it wants to stay relevant. This isn’t the golden age of the 90s any more when everything that came out of Japan was treated like a droplet of manna from the Floating Bridge of Heaven. That’s no excuse for a lack of basic fucking manners or to tar everything Japan creates with the same brush. As sweeping statements go saying all Japanese games suck is like saying all indie developers are intolerably-smug self-satisfied douchebags. When someone asks you a polite question you should at the very fucking least treat them with basic professional courtesy. This unnamed Japanese developer didn’t ask Fish if the carpets matched the curtains or why he still hasn’t released Fez yet. He just asked if there were any modern Japanese games the panel members liked, and Fish used that as an excuse to show off how cooler-than-thou he was to his new industry fanboys.

Some may question what right I have to criticise Fish for his behaviour. While it’s true the height of my videogame creative efforts amount to no more than a couple of unreleased Doom .wads and some messing about with RPG Maker, I’m not saying this shit on stage at the GDC before a crowd of professionals. Fish seems to think his sizeable role in Indie Game The Movie has made him God’s gift to all things gaming and that’s a hell of a lot of cockiness and bravado from someone who hasn’t actually released a fucking game yet. It’s been, what, almost five years now since Fez was announced? Sure it has earned a lot of praise from the industry and people who got to play it at PAX, but until Fez in the hands of regular gamers Fish has no more right to talk shit about other people’s games than I do.

I love indie games with all my heart, I truly do. It’s where the bulk of ideas and originality in gaming can be found nowadays and it has a lot to offer both Western and Japanese mainstream games development. However, the indie scene already has enough of a reputation for pretentious, elitist circle-jerkery without this smarmy little tosspot shooting his mouth off, and there is a world of difference however between legitimate criticism and behaving like a smug hipster twat to impress people.

Source: Develop

Matt McDermott

About Matt McDermott

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com.