Phil Fish, Trolls, and the Power of Positive Thinking

Fez 2


Earlier this week, Phil Fish cancelled Fez II.  He said that it was a long time coming, and that he is leaving gaming for good.


The industry is worse for it…


I don’t like Phil Fish.  In fact, I usually find his tirades on Twitter to be on the verge of elitist, but despite my feelings towards the man; his work is amazing.  Fez is still one of the best games out there, and the detail put into the complexity of the game design still astounds even now.  The surprise announcement of its sequel at E3 this year was one of the highlights of the show, and one could only imagine what type of mind-bending puzzles and mechanics it may have had.


Sadly, it looks like we will never know…


To summarize a somewhat convoluted series of events; Marcus Beer [the Annoyed Gamer] on GameTrailers Invisible Walls called out Fish for not commenting on Microsoft’s policy shift on independent development on the Xbox One.  There was a bunch on name calling, which then turned into a heated argument with quite a bit of people over Twitter; which then in turn led to Fish throwing up his hands and calling the whole thing off.  It had escalated beyond just the industry personalities; the fight echoed like a clarion call to all corners of the internet, bringing forth all sorts of people to the discussion.  It was from this deluge of voices that eventually Fish’s was heard, but it was only to say he was done with everything.



There are so many of them…


For supposedly being “fans” of the industry; there seems to be a flood of harsh words, tweets, and messages that go towards those who make the things that we love.  Fish is not the first, nor is he the last, in a long line of targets that certain “gamers” have targeted with their frustrations, rage, and opinions.  Just recently, a high profile developer from Treyarch was given multiple death threats from “fans” over some tweaks that went out in the recent patch.  The vocal response was so severe that Activision’s Community Manager Dan Amrich wrote an editorial, and had this to say…


If anybody thinks for a second that this is okay, it is not. But if the loudest voices in the Call of Duty “community” act like an angry mob instead, guess how the entire world views Call of Duty? Now consider that these Internet Tough Guy rants and demands are not unique to COD, but exist everywhere, in many gaming communities. This is why the world often does not take gaming seriously; this is why gamers are assumed to be immature, whiny assholes. Because the immature, whiny assholes are louder.


We’re all better than this…


It seems that it has become an assumed fact that the “trolls” (more commonly called “the vocal minority”) will always be there.  Yet, no one has ever seemed to confront the question as to why.  They talk, scream, and voice their ridiculous opinions; and we just seem to tolerate their presence.  It is the actions of these types of people that drive creators like Phil Fish to go away from gaming, that cause fans to never type something on their favorite site’s message boards, and give “gamers” an image that the majority of us have been trying to fight against for years.  It is the actions of these few that color the discussion of the many; namely us.


This leads to the inevitable conclusion…


Phil Fish’s exit is a sign of the times; that the “trolls” are winning.  We need to step up to do something; but not stoop down to their level.  Fight with positivity; don’t be so quick to criticize because there is most certainly a person who will read that comment.  Don’t feed into the negativity and rather than engage in an internet yelling match, simply ignore them.  Flag inappropriate comments, take advantage of moderation tools, and do your best to better the gaming community you are a part of.  We may not be able to make the “trolls” go away, but we can do our part to silence them back under the bridge they crawled out of.*  Maybe in doing so, we can finally achieve that positive image we are all striving towards.


So, to the all the readers….


Phil, I doubt you’ll read this, but if you do; come back and don’t give them this victory; show them that we are better than all this, and that we can rise above..


and to everyone else, remember we’re all here because we love games; whether as a player, writer, or developer.  We’re all on the same side; sharing in the same joy…be sure to show that more often.


*That’s a reference to story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, a lovely children’s tale; but historically trolls can also live in caves, forests, and the occasional mountain.

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One thought on “Phil Fish, Trolls, and the Power of Positive Thinking

  1. A few grammatical criticisms…

    You use semi-colons far too much. A piece this size should probably have two at the most in any case. Not only that, they’re often not used correctly.

    “Phil Fish’s exit is a sign of the times; that the “trolls” are winning.”

    A semi-colon is used to separate two independent clauses. The second half is not an independent clause, but is an easy fix. Simply remove the “that” and the second half could stand on it’s own, making the semi-colon correct.

    “To summarize a somewhat convoluted series of events;”

    A colon would be a much better piece of punctuation. A colon leads into a list, so it would be appropriate here because you go on to list the events of the Phil incident.

    “remember we’re all here because we love games; whether as a player, writer, or developer”

    A comma would be a better mark than a semi-colon here. Like my first example, the second half is not an independent clause, so a semi-colon is not viable.

    “They talk, scream, and voice their ridiculous opinions; and we just seem to tolerate their presence.”

    Do NOT use semi-colons with conjuctions (and, but, yet). A comma will suffice. As a side note, an opinion is never ridiculous, at least not inherently. Opinions can be presented in much more approachable ways. An appropriate way of articulating what you’re trying to say is labeling them as “artificial opinions”, false stances designed to attract attention rather than express themselves. “Ridiculous opinions” sounds like you’re attacking their tastes for no reason when in fact that is not the situation whatsoever.

    The quotations around trolls is jarring. If you want to use the term often and liberally, that’s fine, but you really only need to do it once. You’re not actually quoting anything so it doesn’t need to be consistent. In fact, quotations around “the vocal minority” and “gamers” are totally unnecessary as well. I look hypocritically, but see, I’m actually quoting you here, haha.

    I don’t really like the first paragraph. You come out saying you don’t like Phil Fish as a matter of factly, and even though you go on to give context, the first sentence felt more brash than it needed to be, even in retrospect. I’d recommend addressing it generally. “Phil Fish, while an accomplished indie game developer, hasn’t been a particularly likable figure. In fact…”

    That’s about all I have to say. I’ll be sticking around this site to see if I can offer some constructive criticism to some of your other pieces and other author’s works. Cheers!

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