Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
This Is Phil Fish

This Is Phil Fish

This is Phil Fish. Th-th-th-th-this is Phil Fish. Phil is, or was, a game designer. He worked at Ubisoft, entered the Indie scene through TIG Source, founded Kokoromi, co-starred in the documentary “Indie Game: The Movie”, and released a game called Fez. Maybe you heard of it. And everybody hates him. That’s an exaggeration; if you don’t hate Phil Fish, you probably either know somebody who does, or you have never heard of him. He’s been called a racist, a liar, arrogant, overrated, and generally, quote, “an asshole”. End quote. This video is not about defending Phil Fish, or about setting him on fire. This video isn’t even about Phil Fish; not really. This video is about everyone in the world who isn’t Phil Fish. We–and by we I mean those who would eventually be Phil’s “public”–first met Phil on the forums at TIG Source, sort of the Indie game CBGB’s. He was a talented artist that delivered very constructive, if blunt, critiques on the art sub-forums. He was one of dozens of strong personalities; he had a tendency to fly off the handle, though rarely unprovoked, even if it didn’t seemingly take much provocation. You could most easily set him off by talking about who was and wasn’t “really indie”. The point being, he wasn’t a shit talker. He was a guy who called out shit talkers, though where you place that dividing line likely depends on your opinion of Phil Fish. Early in development he started a dev log for Fez that quickly became the most popular dev log in TIG Source history. The game around that time blew the fuck up on Twitter, and an early demo won an Excellence in Visual Art Award at the Independent Games Festival. Phil was becoming, quite rapidly, a big deal. He was the subject of dozens of articles and interviews, and quickly received funding from the Canadian government, based solely on his first commercial release, which was, at that time, little more than a prototype. This rankled many developers who had been releasing finished products for years in total obscurity. It is worth noting that Fez’s popularity didn’t really mean people thought it was “better” than other games in development. Fez’s selling points were Phil’s art, guided by his incredibly demanding standards, and its 2D/3D mechanic, which was near impossible to describe but could be instantly understood in motion. The game blew up on Twitter because it was perfectly suited to Twitter. Everything you needed to know about it could be understood in four seconds of video, or even an animated gif. It was a game that compressed well, and the more compressed information is, the further can travel on the web. This took no particular genius on Phil’s part, he simply lucked into an idea that elegantly fit the mold of how games became popular in 2008, and used that system superlatively. Other developers games could be better, deeper, more cerebral, but not half as memetic. But the way Phil acted in the face of this popularity seemed smug and self-satisfied, as if Phil felt it were owed to him. His acceptance speech for the art award at the IGF had no trace of humility or even surprise; in interviews he often ranted about what was wrong with other games, much as he had on TIG Source, with the tacit implication that Fez would be superior. And when folks shared their unvarnished, profanity-laden opinions with him on the internet, he responded right back in kind, as he had ever done. But before, if a complete stranger randomly told him to go fuck himself, no one cried foul if he told them to go fuck themselves right back. This was just two strangers flaming each other on the internet, and if anyone was in the wrong it was the one who started it. But now Phil wasn’t insulting a stranger, he was insulting the audience. This was interfacing with the public. The dynamic between these two people is viewed completely differently as soon as one of them becomes famous. To talk about Phil Fish is to talk about fame. More and more people began to speak toxically about Phil, and to Phil. Resentment began with developers, but soon expanded, either by spreading out from TIG Source or because Phil was just good at making enemies. The complaint that Phil had never released a game, lobbed at him most every time his name was mentioned on the internet, masked a deeper complaint. Hundreds of developers on TIG Source had never finished a game and no one complained about that. But none of them were famous. The deeper complaint wasn’t that Phil was more famous than them, but that he was more famous than he deserved. At this point, Phil was basically Nickelback. Now, people don’t hate Nickelback because they think the music is bad. People think loads of music is bad and don’t give it any further thought. People hate Nickelback because the music is bad and popular. But it’s more complicated than that. It’s because someone at a studio heard Nickelback and thought, “I can sell that.” It’s because the music was so aggressively overplayed on the radio, and aggressively advertised, as if a PR department were trying to sculpt a mediocre band into a sensation regardless of worthiness. It’s because, despite all the hate, Nickelback’s fame proved that this was actually working, that millions were buying into it. It’s because Nickelback represented the apotheosis of an existing trend of shallow, whiny hard rock, which they made even more popular, and spawned legions of shallow, whiny imitators to continue the trend. It’s because every step of this process seemed to have been taken solely for the benefit of the people getting rich off the record sales. “I hate Nickelback”, as a sentence, voices a complex opinion on cultural trends in popular music, and aligns the speaker with those who hate not just Nickelback, but all that Nickelback represents. They resent Nickelback the concept. Nickelback the actual band is of secondary importance. The band’s crime, other than the writing of the actual songs, is their complicity in this system. They signed the record deal. They deemed themselves worthy and deserving of this studio-constructed fame. In a phrase, they bought into it. The ire felt for Nickelback the band is only somewhat harsher than the ire felt for the fans that buy the records. They are just the first and last links in a chain of politics; studio politics, radio politics, and record politics, that are seemingly ruining music. This entire chain comprises Nickelback the concept, and when people say “I hate Nickelback”, this is the Nickelback they’re referring to. And when someone tweets “I hate Nickelback” at Nickelback, they aren’t really talking to the band. They’re talking publicly to culture about what Nickelback represents. The actual tweet to the actual band is just a shorthand. Saying “I hate Phil Fish” became the same sort of shorthand. Phil was friends with a few dozen other indie-famous developers, so he came to represent circle-jerking; the idea that you got indie-famous by being friends with the Indie-famous. Phil had government funding and impressive pixel art skills, so he came to represent the idea that money or polish or retro aesthetics, rather than gameplay, were what guaranteed press attention. So much of the conversation was about Phil, not just about Fez, that he came to represent shameless self-promotion, egomania, fame breeding fame, over-emphasis on personality over product, or whatever else. Phil was not just getting undeserved attention, he was the embodiment of undeserved attention. It’s worth noting that these popular beliefs about indie politics are not necessarily, any of them, true. But they are firmly believed. Phil Fish the concept and Phil Fish the human being orbited around each other for the four plus years of Fez’s development, and a small cottage industry grew up among reporters and bloggers of announcing whenever the two were in alignment. Indie Game: The Movie was filmed while Phil was legally divorcing his business partner, whom the film anonymized, and the end credits said he’d asked not to appear in the film. Shortly after release, Phil’s business partner said he didn’t “ask not to be in the film”, he was not asked to be in the film, and that he’d actually been given no opportunity to rebut Phil’s account of events with his own account. This quickly became subject or citation of several articles, and quickly flourished as a topic on blogs, forums and social media. At an Indie Game: The Movie panel at GDC in 2012, when a Japanese man in the audience asked developers what they think of current Japanese games, Phil took the mic and said, bluntly, “They suck”. Within a day, “Phil Fish says Japanese Games Suck” was headline news on Eurogamer, IGN, and Kotaku, among others, and the comments filled up with people calling Phil a racist. And when, later that week, Fez won the Seamus McNally Grand prize at the Independent Games Festival, Phil took his victory lap by telling a stranger on Twitter to choke on his dick. The stranger had, per usual, insulted Phil for no reason. This also became news. Two years later this is still cited in articles about Phil. Now, game-related news, editorials, reviews, and criticism all fall under the same vague banner of “games journalism”, but none of these things are “news” in any traditional sense. They have no material repercussions on gaming as a whole, on how games are made and distributed, or even the development of Fez. This is merely gossip, unless… Phil is functioning as a symbol. Which is precisely how he was being used. Because talking about Phil is talking about fame. It is a known secret that Phil’s former business partner is musician Jason DeGroot. For all his statements that the filmmakers were liars and that he’d never gotten to tell his story, DeGroot never told his story. The only specific he ever shared was about that line in the end credits, which no one disputed. The line was immediately removed from all digital copies of the film and was not included on the DVD. As for why he quit the company, or why he took so long to sign the papers despite the very real damage it could do to the game, many choose to believe DeGroot’s entirely hypothetical explanation, usually assuming that it centers on Phil being such an asshole. At GSC following the “they suck” comment, Phil Fish and Jon Blow had a back-and-forth conversation about overarching trends in both Japanese and American game design traditions, offering criticism of the American trends as well as exceptions to the Japanese trends. The moment where Phil wrote off Japan entirely simply didn’t happen. Something Phil did say, however, was “you guys need to get with the times”, “you guys” directed at the Japanese man in the audience, essentially casting him, intentionally or otherwise, as the representative for his entire culture. Problematic generalizations like this happen all too often in games culture. It’s a topic that deserves to be discussed, that sorely needs to be discussed. It would have been entirely justified to use Phil Fish to have a conversation about tokenism and cultural insensitivity. But instead, people used tokenism and cultural insensitivity to talk about Phil Fish. The useful discussion, the one that is larger than Phil Fish, didn’t happen, and when that discussion does happen elsewhere, not nearly as many people show up to the conversation. In fact, many who do show up insist It’s not a problem. People cared about racism only inasmuch as it let them hate Phil Fish. Finally, consider the “choke on my dick” tweet. Then consider this one from the following year. Neither is any more newsworthy than the other, the headline for either could be “Phil Fish has Strong Opinion”. But one is news and one is not. Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist critic who talks about the portrayal of women in games, and cyber mobs, and because of this she has accepted that she will get constant rape and death threats for the rest of her career. And though she was a major figure at the time, Phil praising and defending Anita Sarkeesian didn’t become news. Nothing positive Phil ever says becomes news. Because the headline isn’t really “Phil Fish has Strong Opinion”. Phil Fish is a symbol of everything that is supposedly wrong with indie games. He’s newsworthy when he acts like a symbol. Anything that doesn’t fit the narrative is ignored on blogs, forums, and social media, and news sites cherry-pick the moments when Phil Fish the human being looks, from the right vantage point, like Phil Fish the concept. The real headline is “Preconceptions about Phil Fish Confirmed”. Confirming preconceptions is what makes it news. Which is not to say that Phil was necessarily blameless in any of these situations, but that given many angles to view them, people consistently choose the harshest ones. This is a deliberate choice, made to preserve the idea that Phil is just an asshole. The philosophy here, which is troubling, is that there are right ways and wrong ways to be famous on the internet, and while there may not be any consensus on what the right ways are, there is sometimes consensus on who is doing it wrong. As with most philosophies, this can’t really be proven or disproven. There’s no sense trying to argue someone out of the opinion that Phil is an asshole for not acting the way famous people are supposed to act, or, crucially, for not acting the way we would act in his place. This is a popular argument because it’s an argument you can’t lose. No one can empirically prove whether Phil is or isn’t an asshole. What gets alighted from this argument is the assumption that famous assholes, people who don’t act the way famous people are supposed to act, deserve to be punished. In 2013, Phil quit the games industry, cancelling Fez 2 one month after it was announced. The final culmination of Phil’s punishment came in the form of a blowout with Marcus Beer, The Annoyed Gamer. Guesting on an episode of Invisible Walls, Marcus Beer called out Phil, calling him an arsehole, wanker, and pisspot, for refusing to comment on Microsoft’s new self-publishing policy when asked by journalists. Marcus’s argument was this: that because Phil was famous, journalists wanted his opinion, and that Phil should give it freely; that Phil should be grateful they were asking for it, that many would envy his status in the industry, that he owed journalists for all the attention they’d given him, that he had no right to refuse the press now after having shamelessly promoted himself online and in Indie Game: The Movie, and that the press should give less attention to his next game if he wouldn’t drive on the two-way street. Phil was being famous wrong. Now, one incentive for people like Marcus Beer and the staff of Kotaku and Eurogamer to say contentious things about Phil Fish is because contentious things about Phil Fish are guaranteed thousands of page views. People are invested in hating Phil. The announcement of Fez 2’s cancellation on his company website presently has almost 2,000 comments, most of them insults; long, consecutive, unbroken strings of insults. People saying good riddance, suggesting he fuck off, kill himself, or, of course, choke on their dicks. At this point, Phil is practically as famous for being hated as he is for making Fez. The hatred of Phil leaves no room for reconsideration – people have to commit to it. You can’t publicly, repeatedly, encourage someone to commit suicide, and later reevaluate, think “maybe he’s not an asshole”, without then thinking, “well if he’s not, I certainly have been”. It becomes psychologically necessary to hate Phil, and permanently. Here, finally, is my point. Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you’re at some Manhattan cocktail party, and in conversation with a stranger you’ve only just met, you say, “Can you believe this bullshit Phil Fish said on Twitter?” Do you think the more plausible response is A: “God I know, what an asshole”, or B: “I don’t really care”? The correct answer is C: “Who the hell is Phil Fish?” Phil is not famous the way we are used to thinking about celebrities. Despite being in a movie, a documentary about video games, the average random passerby has no idea who he is, nor do they know Jon Blow, and while they’ve probably heard of Minecraft, they probably don’t know who Notch is. Same for Cliff Bleszinski, same for Ken Levine. The world at large does not know or care who makes video games. Fez has shipped a million units, so in a random sampling of 7,000 strangers, it would have been played by one of them. Phil is subculturally important, not culturally important. He’s only famous to us. And Phil is famous because a lot of us talk about him. Algorithmically, this is how search engines work. The more people talk about him, the higher he appears in searches. Similarly, the more we talk about Phil, the more articles get written about him, because they are guaranteed high readership and high ad revenue. People discussing how much they hate Phil makes Phil more famous. We’re used to thinking about fame as something granted to a person by people with media access. The reason people hate Nickelback is because of that record contract, that Faustian bargain. They bought into it. They had to be discovered, someone had to connect them with video directors, record producers, stylists, advertisers. This is not what fame looks like on the internet. There, fame is not something you ask for. Fame is not something you buy into. Fame happens to you. Phil doesn’t have an agent. He doesn’t have ad executives. He doesn’t tour the country on press junkets, and he doesn’t have a PR department. (Obviously.) He talked on social media. He did interviews when invited to do them. He was invited into a documentary. People read these things as shameless self-promotion, or a desperate need for attention, or both, but that’s projection. Nobody knows Phil’s reasons for doing them but Phil and the people who know him personally. Phil never asked to be famous. We made him famous. Maybe in part because we found him entertaining, maybe in part because we found him irritating. Largely because many of us were once sincerely excited about his game. But he became a big deal because we kept talking about him. On the internet, celebrities are famous only to the people who talk about them, and they’re only famous because we talk about them, and then we hate them for being too famous, and make them more famous by talking about how much we hate them. Could there ever be anything more self-defeating than this? If Nickelback decided tomorrow that they didn’t want to be famous anymore, they would have to give up the tours, the roadies, the record labels, the billboards, things most of us don’t have. They would have to settle for normal life. The only way out for Phil was to give up what most of us consider normal life: openly being ourselves on the internet. Because his normal life is what made him famous. Anything Phil says in public is newsworthy. He had to quit or privatize all social media, he had to stop speaking to his friends in public, if he goes to GDC or Pax or Indiecade, even as an attendee, there will be photos. My impression of Phil Fish is that he was young, and hungry, and talented. He seemed to perversely enjoy when people started talking about him; that cockiness usually comes with an arrogant assurance that you deserve to be spoken of, and a gnawing fear that you actually don’t. For me the most telling scene of Indie Game: The Movie is when Phil realized that an article about Fez he thought had been very popular had actually gone largely ignored, and, looking destroyed, he asked, “Why do I care so much?” I read him as a guy who took a weird joy in fucking with people’s expectations of him, but knew that he actually cared what people thought of him, cared about being accepted, and also wondered if that wasn’t very bad for him. What is this impression of Phil worth? Nothing. Everything I know about Phil comes indirectly, from the internet. I have access to the same set of information as everyone else, and we all draw wildly different conclusions. We project different things on Phil, which says more about us than it does about him. I will not say that Phil isn’t an asshole. I will only say that none of us know him. And why this matters to you is because if you’re watching this, you are on the internet. On the internet, there is no hard line between those who do and don’t have access to the media, because the internet is media access. There is a wide, fuzzy gradient between the famous and the unfamous. The person whose cat video has 2,000 views is slightly more famous than the person whose video has 15 People can be WordPress famous, Tumblr famous, Facebook famous. People can dedicate 20 years to their career and suddenly get very famous very fast in their 40s thanks to the internet, or they can find themselves famous without trying to be. You may wake up and find something you tweeted last night has 45,000 retweets, and you will find yourself suddenly held to different standards. You won’t necessarily know why this thing was the thing that made you a big deal. You won’t necessarily know how long you’ll be a big deal, but suddenly the people who follow you aren’t just people anymore. They’re an audience. And they want you to be something and they don’t necessarily agree on what that something is. How would you want them to judge you? Two final points about Phil Fish. One: Phil is an exception. He is white, male, middle-class and presumed to be both straight and cisgender. If you lack one or more of these traits, expect this kind of backlash sooner. For people who are any kind of social minority, they can expect Phil Fish levels of hatred, or worse, for any perceived offense. Sometimes the perceived offense is having any opinion at all. Two: Prior to the release of Fez, Phil released Glee and Super Hypercube through Kokoromi. Fez was his third Indie game.

100 comments on “This Is Phil Fish

  1. The problem I have with Jonathon Blow and Phil Fish comment on overarching Japanese trends when it comes to game design is that the whole “show don’t tell argument” they were implying to games like Zelda, etc is that I completely ignores why those trends are there. Plus it’s also a silly and bullshit argument when you think about it.

    Dark Souls has plenty of tutorials and hand holding, the difference is that it’s blatantly done through text boxes that tell you the controls and basic functions. The only difference is that it’s handled in a much more subtler way because instead of a companion telling you obvious information, it’s either items, notes left by other players, etc.
    Plus the games they produced are simplistic in comparison to said bigger developers so of course they would have that haughty attitude.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the problem with hardcore audiences and indie developers that have this fetish toward everything hardcore is that it ignores that not everyone can understand everything in a video game instantly or has the patience to “figure it out on their own” unless the game does so in a logical and reasonable way.

    A good counterpoint that’s often overlooked by a game that gets criticized for hand holding, Skyward Sword. You aren’t required to practice on the logs, nor does the game tell you how to swing your sword unless you talk to the npc, you can practice as long as you want or you can just grab the sword and gtfo. You can also skip on rescuing the cat thing in the beginning.

  2. I'm a gamer, but I don't know anything about indie devs… in fact, I only know devs in the companies I care about. This is probably how it goes.
    This is the first I've heard of Phil Fish (that I noticed, I've probably heard his name). Well, I don't hate him. Thanks, this video is good prophylaxis and good praxis.

  3. Strange how this came up in my feed now, 5 years late and I'm not a particarly huge gamer.
    But I have heard of Phil Fish, heard he was an ass with an inflated ego and a penchant for trashtalking on the internet. I read some of his comments and those seemed to confirm a somewhat asshole-ish disposition.
    Then I forgot about him.

    I don't know why I'm posting this.

  4. I can't finish this video because i have to go to work; but so far this is the most fair and balanced reporting on journalism as it is now, any it's all yellow. I have a lot of problems with this youtuber but i think they did a good job here.

    "Preconceptions about X confirmed" as a replacement for news can be applied to almost all social, political, or international press attention. We have figured out who the target demographic is for news, and it is the amygdala. And that is where modern racism, classism, and nationalism exists.

    People want their own identities confirmed, and the pathfinding algorithm for that is carved out of statues of the "other" that are a collection of the prejudices we hold. And the form communication has taken in our culture is organized overwhelmingly around reinforcing those prejudices. Minorities are violent and hateful and sexually predatory. Bussinesses are criminal and corrupt and bloodthirsty. Foriegn nations want to bring down our country for their own gain. All the people i like are geniuses or heroes or martyrs and all the ones i don't are villains.

    I wish i could separate from my own prejudices, and i wish the author wasn't part of a political sphere. Maybe there is a structure things can have that takes the individual and the concept apart, but we haven't really found one in the popular culture yet.

  5. Also, I've seen a lot of bullshit pity party "makes you think" nonsense in the comments, too. "Oh wow, this guy's using Nickleback to make his points impactful" "It's invigoratingly refreshing to hear how it wasn't Phil's fault, but the media and anything that could be blamed on Phil is just an example of tragedy, not Phil being a fucking moron". And all the rest.

    Let me lay it down to the pure basics. Phil is a hack.

    He is NOT a good coder,.
    He is NOT a good artist.
    He isn't a good "troll" either, because when he's pissing people off, it's mainly because HE HIMSELF is pissed off.
    Because of this, he takes the world and the internet too seriously, and it reflects into his character as a human being (mainly a shitty human).
    His inability to appreciate ALL genres of video games is also why his end product is mediocre and drab.

    You see? Good!

  6. I would suggest watching a video by FactFiend on Nickleback. Turns out their popularity wasn't an accident and Chad Kroeger spent years writing "How You Remind Me". He consciously recorded trends and metrics of what popular songs had in common and he consciously created a song that ticked all of those boxes. And it worked.

    I think this makes the hatred for Nickleback even less justified. Yes the are part of a trend people would later turn on. But they weren't talentless and swept up in the trend. They deliberately noticed it and found a way to profit of it. That song only exists because the public had previously shown they would listen to it. That isn't to say profiting off of trends is always an ok thing to do. But I think people who hate Nickleback are extremely misguided.

  7. Notch… I can say with confidence is a total asshole, based on his own expressed views. I'm not really familiar with Phil Fish, my first time hearing of him.

  8. Peter Coffin.

    He still gets shit for what is essentially- something entirely harmless, if embarrassing (whether he made up a girlfriend or was catfished- doesn’t matter, they’re both embarrassing)

    Why does he still get shit? I find it sad, as he has many worthwhile things to say.

  9. 18 yo when this video dropped. Never heard of the guy or the game. So yea this video was perfect.

  10. Jesus you're such a raging leftist playing at pseudo-psychology. It's the fucking internet, people are out for their digital blood and have harsh opinions. It's fun, let them have it or get bent.

  11. I disagree with you on plenty of stuff, and I find your wording has a slight aroma of smugness and condescension. But god, damn, I'm going to give you complete credit where credit is due, on your points like your perspective on the statement "I hate Nickelback."

  12. Phil Fish literally had at least one documentary about "Indie Games" that made it look like some goddamn rockstar illustrious world where people get together and create UNIVERSES and everyone partying and popping champagne. I've written game projects for 15+ years and it doesn't happen that way unless maybe, you're some crazy extrovert…. no scratch that it just plainly doesn't happen that way. Real game work is a dude sitting in a dungeon for 10 hour days working on all the stuff that DOESN'T look impressive so that he can pull off the few ounces of cool stuff you actually see. It's not celebrity. It's not fashionable. It's just a dude (or chick) with an idea that works their ass off for thousands of hours and says to the world… "here's my creation, I hope you enjoy it." Imagine someone trying to make you look like a celebrity for the 80+ hours you spent editing this video while you just blankly stared at a screen with some modest music playing. It's important work but it's not doing blow off a hookers ass. It's not a wild, fun, exciting world for strangers to watch.

    For my current project I need to learn plenty of computational physics which requires me to brush up on all my college differential equations, learn thoroughly new-to-me topics like finite differences, and more. You think anyone is going to give me a TV show while I flip through a book and read about math for 20 hours a week? But that's all required to accomplish the physics I want in my game.

  13. You brought up Anita Sarkesian? And then quoted comments with zero upvotes? HAHAHAHAHAHHAA. 11 minutes in and I almost forgot why I think you're dishonest. almost man. good try. You almost tricked me you sneaky rabbit. Whewlad. And even more ironic, you quote it DURING a section talking about how people only see what they want to see, and also debate what someone REPRESENTS not just the person. Oh man…. it's…. too delicious. Good job hiding your strong bias till 11 minutes in though.

  14. Never played Fez and I was never really in the loop on why he's so vilified but it definitely seems like he got butthurt. There are plenty of devs who had the character to rise above criticism or roasting

  15. I know this is an old video, but youtube recommended it to me. I'm not going to love anyone who acts like an asshole, even if they are only reacting to someone who was mean first. This whole video is based on the perceived idea that we accept everyone who is an asshole until they become famous, but no.

    For a video about reducing someone down a symbol it really does reduce the "audience" into symbols. For every person who hated Phil and thought he could do no right, he was still an indie darling and many people said he could do no wrong as well.

    In short, this video is more one sided and biased than expect.
    This video says more about the person who made it than the people who the video was talking about (The audience).

    Being anonymous does not give the right to be an asshole, and neither does being famous. The difference is when you are famous and sign release contracts to sell a license of your likeness and words to the press, you are selling your likeness and words to the audience. Many people buy spots on panels or sell spots on panels, Phil had to move money and sign papers to get onto a podium. As an indie developer he was the CEO and marketing team of his own company. The company marketing was his personality. He didn't do a good job of selling his personality.

    Even if the video creator believes Phil was justified in continuing to be an asshole even after he rose to fame, Phil simply reaped the rewards of his actions. You can go 60 miles per hour on the highway and be fine, but the second the speed limit changes and you CHOOSE not to change, you reap the rewards for your actions. You cannot change the past and make yourelf unfamous, so if you want to continue being an asshole then more power to you, but that does not mean people have to accept you for it.

    But finally the people being assholes TO Phil Fish are also assholes. Everyone who is an asshole is an asshole. No one has excuses, not even Phil Fish. No one is forced to love Phil Fish being an asshole because he "didnt ask for fame" and no one is forced to love ANYONE just because they didn't ask for fame.

  16. I actually like Nickelback :3 Not via any of the hype, which I really wasn't exposed to, I just like their music.

  17. The comments are full of annoying f499ots, Bil Phish is an awful subhuman and I would dance a jig if he killed himself.

  18. So assholes can be asholes till they become famous then at that point they must temper their assholeness or be burned out by the collective backlash of him being an asshole because now that he is famous he's going to be judged by millions. He didn't do this and got nuked by fame exposure.

  19. 'casting him as the representative' (country, not culture)

    'problematic generalizations'

    or OR casually referring to someone speaking as a Japanese person, saying 'you guys' to refer to Japanese people.

    Does this channel not know how not to wokepoison anything? Gross
    Could you please elaborate how is this related to anything that 'happens all too often in 'games culture' (what is that)'? Or are you just going to go away and assume your immediate roughed feelings are the infallible and authentic dispenser of the truth?

  20. Anita Sarkeesian is a hack/grifter with some disdain for games as whole, who's grift has been to grossly misrepresent various games material and ignore the medium's specificity to talk down on them for inflated kickstarter monney. She has been the recipient of attention and defense from swathes of wokepoisoned people, who like scolds

    'cybermobs' lol

    Sure its 'positive' lmao- this certainly part of everything that is wrong with indie games, but games journalism would never do this level of hard examination/

    John Bain recieved shittons of constant wishes for death and suffering for his entire family while also dealing with cancer? Some indeterminate amount- I doubt you brought your own statistics- of spam is not martyrdom, especially when recompensed (socially, etc.) with what she has.

  21. I loathed Phil Fish after playing Fez. I didn’t know anything about him. I’ve just never seen a game with such a clever, promising concept take it so far up its own ass.

  22. My only exposure to Phil Fish before this video was in Indie Game the movie. I saw him as incredibly sympathetic. A guy who just wanted to make his game, but the stress of doing so was driving him crazy. That's relatable. I felt sorry for him. After watching this video my opinion hasn't changed much. Sure, he's said some stupid stuff, but who of us hasn't when we were younger?

  23. Another soy covered mental gymnastic riddled apology for a shit person
    Why do I keep getting this trash on my feed

  24. This is and likely always will be my favorite youtube video about gaming culture. I come back to it often and am always surprised by how thorough and insightful it is.

  25. So I'm five years late but I wanna say… Y'know, in retrospect… He kinda was "being famous wrong"

    See, he wasn't just famous. He was famous while selling a product. At that point, he was no longer Phil Fish: Average asshole on Twitter. He was Phil Fish: Developer of Fez. Now that he's selling us a product, we don't expect him to keep acting like a person. We expect him to try to sell us a product.

    Phil's answer to "fuck you" comments isn't supposed to be "well fuck you too and suck me lmao", it's supposed to be

    "Welcome to Fez customer support, I'm developer Phil Fish. How can I help you today?"

    And we are very, very cruel to customer service and support. They're the punching bags that bounce back with a smile. Wipe the spit off your face, Phil, and keep trying to sell us things.

    "I understand you are dissatisfied with our product, and I assure you measures are being taken to rectify the issue. Would you like to fill out a survey?"

    We expect you to be dead inside, because when you answer how you want to, everyone in the store- regardless of context- is going to turn around and look at you. Oh boy, we've got a live one. Did he just say fuck to a potential customer? For shame!

  26. This should be mandatory watching to educate people on the sociological implications of the internet…

    Though, the authoritatively stated "end point 1" is tonally and topically jarring. It should've been cut. I imagine you would probably agree now, given your inclination for objectivity. I'd hope so at least. Regardless of how true it is, it's poorly given, not explained, and too different from the topic. In a phrase: it don't jive good.

  27. You make a lot of good points, but then undercut everything by drastically over simplifying who Anita Sarkesian was and how polarizing merely supporting her was, and then making a baseless (and pointless) assertion that it would have been worse if he had any traits that would have labeled him a minority.

  28. This argument is odd as it seems more like people are jealous that some got lucky and happened to be a success. What is bad or not is subjective. I think most music today, especially pop and rap is bad, but that is just an opinion, not fact so not everyone is going to agree. And how to we measure how much fame, success, etc…that one deserves? I think celebs and sports figured are overpaid; but if they earned it, I can't take it away or say that they don't deserve it. Wouldn't everyone do the same and sign up? Just because you don't like them doesn't mean they didn't deserve it. If people don't like something, they simply won't buy the products, watch them, etc….which will seen as unsuccessful and a loss, so they will fade out like so many before. If still around, maybe they are doing something right.

  29. Excellent video. Perfect encapsulation of how fundamentally miserable we are as a species. Oh, there are better examples of how awful we are as a species (cruelty, war, etc) but those things are obvious, i.e. war is us essentially us at our worst. But I'm talking about how miserable we are, i.e. how we behave when we don't even have a contextual reason to be awful. If you can't even talk about a video game without resorting to being awful, you're just a miserable fuck, deep deep down inside. You would have to be. The internet really allows so many of us to showcase how miserable we really are. Happy people don't feel like they have to go to war with people they don't even know over innocuous shit.

  30. oh NOW i remember you! this was such a good video. your 'alt riht playbook' vids came up in talking about gaywonk v crowder

  31. This is the video that made Notch realize why people gave him hate on twitter, thus indirectly causing him to sell his shares in Mojang to Microsoft.

  32. Your breakdown of how we interface with the collective through individualistic expressions was extremely interesting and I appreciate it.

  33. 99.999% of Nickelback haters would be boring doofuses on stage. The hate comes from the part of your brain that likes shitting on other things because building something yourself takes too long. Don't care for the band but saw them live once, they performed really well.

    Great vid though, I've been enjoying the channel.

  34. This may sound strange, but I rewound time to let you know that you've got to suck Phil Fish's dick while he sings along to Nickleback or a tornado is going to wipe out the bay killing everybody including Chloe. Please don't let Chloe die, please.

  35. Phil himself aside, his comment about japanese games illustrates a general arrogance among american developers who probably have not played a japanese game in the last 10 years and judge them based on Nintendo's Wii releases alone. Jonathan Blow complains about handholding in japanese games and got on breath of the wild only for the game to prove him wrong when he couldn't figure out what to do because the game had no button context menus such as "press (A)" and looked like a fool on his own livestream.

  36. What I was hoping you'd do is say at the end 'Phil Fish is a figment of my imagination.' Not being familiar with indy devs these days I thought it would have been a cool twist because even with no horse in the race I now have an opinion on Mr Fish.

  37. Lol yeah random people who aren't white and male are regularly smashed for having any opinion at all.

    That's not at all a ridiculous statement.

  38. Wonderfully explained, and very impartial. I find it weird how in some public figures acts of pride are perceived as being "part of the genius", but not for everyone. Clearly Phil is extremely talented and creative, and he deserved the recognition he got. But like you said, he didn't behave the way famous people are supposed to behave. Being humble is no less than downplaying yourself and your own achievements, it's a stupid etiquette that treats every well-deserved pride as arrogance. Surely he undermined his PR with some nasty tweets, but I'm focusing on his merits as a creator.

  39. Alright, algorithm, I watched the damn video. I didn't even know who Phil Fish was, but this certainly was an educational video.

  40. Saying he didn't ask to be famous is itself a form of projection though. We don't know him, as you said. Maybe he didn't want to be famous, maybe he did. Ultimately, it seems like you're leaning in the direction of "he's probably not that bad of a guy," while saying "we don't know." BTW, this is the first I've heard of Phil Fish, so there's no bias about him going on here. I just think your argument has some pretty clear limitations and doesn't lead much of anywhere. People expect famous people to act a certain way in much the same way they expect their neighbors or strangers on the street to act a certain way. The rules may be a bit different, but for the most part the expectations go something like: Don't be a dick.

    Yes, there are cases where people get unfairly targeted over things that don't follow any sort of meaningful rules of behavior (e.g. "you're a minority so you're wrong and bad" kind of thing). But I don't believe Sarkeesian is an example of this. She drew MIXED ire and that's something you don't really address in your assessment of peoples' reactions to what famous people do. Some people appreciated what she was doing and believed in it, some people disagreed with it and thought her arguments were stupid, some people thought she was a con artist taking money to deliver vacuous nothing, some people were bad faith actors and just out to hate her no matter what.

    Much like the media tends to report on the controversial stuff that famous people say, they do the same for peoples' reactions to what famous people say and you're falling right into that here. You present it as if Phil Fish as a hated person is just the default state of being if you've heard of him with no actual data to back this up.

    Take Sarkeesian as an example of one I personally know more about. I think her arguments were terrible, but I don't hate her. I just have no respect, intellectually, for the positions she shared and the ways in which she delivered it, which I felt did more harm than good to the cause of feminism and feminist critique. I have no respect, either, for her seeming tonedeafness and inability to distinguish between people who hated her because she was a woman speaking and people who disagreed with what she was saying. I don't blame her for struggling to differentiate between the two, given the level of harassment she allegedly has received. But I can't respect how she did things given what I know about her.

    Not that anyone cares about my personal take on Sarkessian, but the point is, if we actually listen to what people are saying beyond outrage soundbites, celebrity or response to a celebrity, I think you'll find there's a lot more nuance going on than is portrayed.

    And it irritates me when celebrities are given a pass for their behavior because "let's be understanding and focus on the detail here," but reactions to celebrities are not given the same level of attention. In fact, finding subtle or not-so-subtle ways to give celebrities a pass often involves talking bad about the ways people have reacted to them, without giving a fair picture of the reactions.

    It makes me think of the time RedLetterMedia did a comedic-ish video on the Ghostbusters controversy in RLM intentionally shlocky style and looked at the trailer, the reactions to which were being called something to the effect of some sort of cesspool/concentration of misogyny and the like. What they more or less found was that a tiny percentage of the comments leaned in a misogynist/hateful direction and most didn't.

    Stoking the flames of the most egregious behavior you can find by talking about it and ignoring all else doesn't select for class or status or follower size. It just latches onto whatever works and runs with it until it stops working.

    Edit: Also, I would add that this is a problem that has haunted the internet for a long time. When it started I'm not sure exactly. Maybe it was always that way. But not all of it is malicious. I've been a part of numerous forum communities over the years and one of the biggest mistakes people make that worsens controversy is when they sum up the people they think they disagree with into a homogeneous group (a representation that is nearly always full of falsehood). For example, in game communities, there's sometimes bickering over people who like the game versus those who don't. Rarely is any nuance heard in those discussions, as they get off on the wrong foot almost immediately by characterizing one group as villains and the other as victims. Sometimes it's the ones who "love" the game who are the villains, being apologists for it and getting in the way of helpful feedback. Sometimes it's the ones who "hate" the game who are the villains, being debbie downers and ruining it for everyone else.

    It's one thing to draw boundaries on groups (or individuals) with substantively different ideologies who are complicit or participating in immoral behavior. But much controversy of this nature on the internet has no such substance and only touches on morality insofar as morality can be weaponized as a way to claim the high ground.

    I think it's important that it's not treated as a "boy who cried wolf" situation and we are able to properly call people and groups out over vital issues.

  41. There are a nearly infinite number of ways to do any given task. There are a limited number of way do a give task and achieve an outcome that is desirable. In this case had he had any poise, or at the least a proper sense of self preservation, he wouldn't have acted rude so often or so loud. If he has trouble following social queues, then he could have saved himself a lifetime of pain by saying, Hi I'm Phil Fish and I have autism as well as a game dev. No one would have thought twice about it then. If he doesn't have autism, perhaps he should double-check with a medical professional or make some hard changes in the way he behaves. Same applies to anyone that becomes famous. The most easy thing to do is nothing. He could have been silent and had a better outcome.

  42. This video is becoming weirdly relevant again. Not because of Phil Fish the person, but because of Phil Fish the concept.

  43. This video helps me understand mob mentally a lot more and more about myself. It was very insightful. Thank you.

  44. Am I the only one who doesn't understand the hate for Phil Fish? I watched Indie the Movie. Fez is a good game. He (is/was) a developer and, honestly, his personality means nothing to me. Fez will live forever. I can separate the art from the artist. I don't stay up at night wondering about the personality of the artist, I just enjoy & appreciate the art. Thank you Phil Fish for Fez (and SuperHyperCube!)

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