An Obituary for Phil Fish’s Twitter Account

Phil Fish leaves the world of indie gaming.

Last week, someone told me that if they saw Phil Fish, they would punch him in the face. I cannot claim to be surprised by this threat of bodily harm against someone they had never physically met, but it’s something that comes to mind. 

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Phil Fish took down his Twitter account this weekend. He has (once again) retired from the gaming industry, though he’s taken it a step further this time. He’s offering Polytron, the company with which he created Fez, to the highest bidder. 

To call it “retiring” is to give too much credibility to the word. Phil Fish was run out of town by pitchfork wielding Internet denizens, was bullied and harassed until he had little choice but to flee. The Internet does few things by halves. When it loves, it does so with a complete and full heart. The hatred is equally passionate, a  visceral disgust that you can never escape. 

Phil Fish’s sin is that he reminded too many people of that hipster asshole you know, that guy who was too cool in high school, the jerk who lorded over you in college or at your job. You could claim that Phil was more disagreeable than most, he infamously told people to “suck his dick” and to “choke on it.” Aside from a creative use of swear words, which doesn’t strike me as more heinous than anyone else’s, Phil was outspoken. When people reacted negatively, he reacted back. With independent games, their biggest strength and weakness is the closeness to the developer. They can be just a tweet away, and people took this opportunity to form Phil Fish into indie games greatest villain. 

It would be irresponsible of me to claim him an innocent victim, but the vitriolic level of hatred that Fish recieves is akin to third world dictators and the guy who sexually assaulted your sister. It’s personal and global and deeply rooted. To fight back is human, but Phil Fish is not permitted this grace. He is repeatedly brutalized through every manner of social media, told to suck it up when he complains or when he fights back. This, he is told, is the price of fame. 

I am done. I want out. RUN AWAY. Just don’t do it. Give up your dreams. They are actually nightmares. Nothing is worth this. To every aspiring game developer out there: Don’t. give up. It’s not worth it. This is your audience. This is videogames.

This tweet, this closing of his Twitter, reads like a suicide note. And for his career, it is. I’ve watched Indie Game: the Movie so many times it feels a part of my personal history. The first few play throughs, I thought Phil was crazy. It’s clear, more so since he quit, that it comes from a place of true, unadultered passion. I can’t speak for Phil. He’s not a personal friend, he’s a man I once shared a train ride with and saw briefly between the sliding doors of cars. But it seems that Phil deeply loves games, loves them more than most people could ever love another person. This passion could’ve made real strides in game development, but instead, he’s gone. 

I hope he still creates. I hope, even though the Internet has run him away, has pushed him out, I hope that he still creates. Somewhere, even if I never play it, I hope he makes something beautiful just for him. And I hope he stays away, because I think he’d be happier that way. 

Farewell Phil Fish’s Twitter. Farewell to the place that first made me question where African American women were in game design. Farewell to a place where I could look towards for commentary on the state of games today. You were one of my favorite industry accounts, and I will miss you. 


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Author
Amanda Wallace
Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.