Phil Fish quit the game industry this week. He was an abrasive and outspoken personality, a polarizing figure and, as he was known as such, was hounded incessantly by vicious internet wits via Twitter and forums until he’d had enough and decided he wanted out. The same crowd that wants strong personalities driving game design will turn on those personalities the moment they come to harbor a dissenting viewpoint.
I’m working so hard to make a game that is personally meaningful to me: If I do, will it be to achieve a constant cycle of harassment by a digital paparazzi who have come to believe that rudeness is critical insight and vulgarity is cleverness? In the end, my work is for me, but it’s hard not to be discouraged, hard not to be saddened, as over and over I see game designers whose worst conceivable crime is tactlessness be swarmed by self-righteous vultures.
Sometimes it’s hard…
Three weeks ago a man named Ryan Davis passed away at the tragically young age of 34. Ryan Davis was an active and cherished member of the game journalism community. No one, seemingly, anywhere, had a single unkind word to say about this man. It was agreed that video games journalism had lost one of its clearest, most charismatic, and most beloved voices.
I wasn’t really familiar with his work, but this death affected me. The grim and scared thought that a man just 4 years older than myself had passed so suddenly sat heavy alongside the hopeful and touching thought that he was remembered so well by so many, and together cast a light by which I saw my own life, still struggling, still far from the place of recognition I would wish for – still far from sharing my work with the world, that they might be touched both with my presence now and, at some point in the unspecified future, its lack.
And yet, outside of my little world of games and critics and jokes, the world just didn’t seem to notice at all that a wonderful man had left it behind.
Sometimes it’s so hard to remember why I want to be who I am, why I want to care about what I care about. The internet, a world of vast and unbound freedom that has been burgeoning for most of my life, is now slowly being undermined by conjoined government-corporate interests. Those who have the most to lose have been convinced that giving up safety and freedom is the only way to be safe and free. We rededicate ourselves to the eradication of fictional crime even as we ignore the causes of and effects of genuine crime. We are so afraid that the sky is falling that we never notice the ground shifting beneath our feet.
So, yeah, it’s hard, and I’m tired. I’ll carry on with existing and with being a person until someday it will be easier. But, in the meanwhile, please don’t mind if I take a moment to rest, and to maybe just point out: It never had to be this hard.
We did it to ourselves.