The Story: During the latest episode of GameTrailer’s weekly show, “Invisible Walls”, Producer and co-host Marcus Beer went on a personal offensive against indie developers Phil Fish and Johnathon Blow. During the show, Beer went on to call out Fish and Blow for bringing up issue with being questioned about Microsoft’s announcement of self-publishing. He continued to berate both of them using derisive comments. From condescendingly referring to the two collectively as “BlowFish”, stating one of them appeared to be a “tosspot” in the Indie Game: The Movie, and then caustically calling them “hipsters” for being indie developers.
Phil Fish countered Beer’s inflammatory appearance on Invisible Walls on Twitter,
“The thing with us “tosspots” “hipsters” is that we’re not beholden to media leeches like you.” [SIC]
“And you’re right. we’re VERY successful. and we’re not going anywhere. get used to it you middle-aged parasite” [SIC]
“compare your life to mine and then kill yourself.” [SIC]
The issue flared up into Fish protecting his Twitter account and announcing the cancellation of Fez 2, which was then corroborated by the official @Polytron Twitter account.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we announce that FEZ II has been cancelled and is no longer in development. We apologize for the disappointment.”
The Thoughts: So what can we make of this entire debacle? I joined in on a major Twitter discussion featuring a well regarded member of our industry and several other Twitterites in which we tried to determine whether one or more is at fault and what the real issue is in the situation. For me, the issue started with Beer’s inflammatory comments. Every last word was poorly chosen to elucidate his points, but carefully done so to garner attention and appeal to a certain audience. And it works. His brand of journalism–as he even infers in the episode of Invisible Walls before marking Blow and Fish–is centered around virulent comments and attitude.
Beer’s vitriolic infused tirade was not without point, but those points were buried beneath a wave of personal attacks and stereotypical ad hominems. For example, Beer did point out that Fish and Blow were in the Indie Game movie, a documentary about the independent development sector of the gaming industry. Fish in particular is highly outspoken to the media, as well as deeply passionate in his views–and unafraid to speak them when he deems. As such it is not out of the realm of acceptability to be questioned or grilled by the same media on a topic that is VERY close to him and Blow.
In particular Fish seeing as he has had issues with Microsoft in the past.
But this is not to endorse or even encourage his brand of “journalism”. As I stated and I stand by
“A smart journalist tries to obtain the truth. A desperate journalist tries to obtain flashy soundbites.”
However, the fault does not only lie on Beer. Fish’s reaction, regardless of the intent (be it legitimate or for PR purposes) was wholly out of line in context to the situation. This isn’t Fish’s first time under fire for his comments or his attitude towards the industry or media, but in calling for Beer to kill himself (bear in mind that later it was revealed he was quoting Futurama) was a poor exercise in judgment. Such a response would be better suited for video in which we could infer context and possible sarcasm or reference to pop culture than textual medium. Especially on the internet.
Fish’s cancellation (if ultimately true) is also a rash and terrible idea considering this hurts the fans of the series more than it retaliates to Beer. Whatever Fish’s intentions, dragging players and consumers into the fray is bad form and does himself and Polytron a massive disservice. Fish is entirely in his right to be upset with Beer for his comments, and I doubt anyone will disagree with him on that. Taking it to the level he did was out of line.
In the end Beer should honestly focus on quality journalism and respectful debate/criticism, while Fish really needs to find some decorum in the face of deconstructive opinions and a way in which to handle these matters without conflagrating everything around him. Both parties absolutely owe each other a civil recourse–perhaps over a game of Quake?
Right now the matter rests with Fish expecting Beer to apologize, Beer requesting Fish to speak to him during PAX, and the rest of us hoping this will die down and we can get back to supporting Fish and Polytronic on the development of Fez 2.