You Can’t Blame Phil Fish

Well that’s depressing.  Say what you will about Phil Fish, Fez was a lovely little platformer that somehow was every bit as much the good parts of Myst as it was a clever take on 2.5D gaming.  The problems with the game’s release and the creator’s internet personality have been well documented (endlessly, over and over again!) but Fez was a wonderful game.  And now we probably aren’t going to see the sequel, or anything else from its creator.

I honestly didn’t mind Phil Fish.  His initial panel on Japan sucking made some good points in an entertainingly incendiary fashion, but the vitriol from Japanophiles grated against a personality that reacted poorly to their vicious confrontational posts.  He did the smart thing after his Twitter meltdown and left the internet, and if he’d stayed away maybe it would have all worked out for the best after all.  Who can resist the shiny tempting glow of the online world, though?  Soon enough he was back, responding harshly to posts best left ignored and losing all hope of winning the Mister Congeniality award.

All that came to an end today, when the podcast Invisible Walls said a mean thing about Phil Fish that set him off.  It was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back, and and after a bit of arguing the point on Twitter he decided he’d had enough of the games industry.  It’s not one guy in a podcast, it’s everything.  Fez II is canceled and he’s out of here.  Honestly, I can’t really blame him.

There’s no good way to deal with the crap he’s put up with since the Japan panel.  Rising above and ignoring it is the only workable solution, but it takes a certain kind of personality that not everyone has.  Phish decided to deal with the negativity by responding with negativity, which isn’t something I can criticize him for.  It’s easy to sit over here saying “be good, stiff upper lip, carry on, let it go” but I’ve never actually been a focal point for an internet shit-stream.

So he hit back, earned a reputation as a complete douche in the process, but also brought Fez to PC and started working on a second patch for the 360 version once Microsoft’s insane fees were removed.  Not only that, Fez II was announced, although only in logo form.  Work was happening and it looked like Polytron was going to have an interesting (if argumentative) future, until today.


I never had a problem with Phil Fish.  Yes, he was unprofessional in dealing with the negativity, but it’s not my job to be bestest friends forever with creators.  A difficult personality is neither a plus nor a minus when considering whether to enjoy a game, book, movie, or any other piece of entertainment.  It takes the phenomenal  contemptibility of an Orson Scott Card to make me decide that I’d rather have nothing to do with anything that person makes.  A creator’s job is to make interesting things, and if the person making things happens to be likable that’s a bonus.  Phil Fish had issues but Fez was wonderful, so there was no problem enjoying the game.

At the moment I’m kind of hoping Phish takes the weekend away from the computer and decides that making games is good even if people can kind of suck.  A quick retraction of the cancellation notice, keep the Twitter account private and ignore the week or two of commentary that would inevitably follow, and eventually Fez II gets published.  Over here in the real world, however, gaming has lost one of its artists.  I hope whatever Phil Fish ends up doing next makes him happier than dealing with the social media aspects of the gaming industry did.