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The Game Effect Editorial

The Internet Should Be Nicer To Phil Fish

He is a terrible person (according to the internet)

By Whitney Bulna on 5/4/2013
Phil Fish was recently the center of yet another controversy as he took to Twitter and accused Redditors of "murdering" a young man accused of committing the April 15th Boston bombings.

Fish is the creator of FEZ, the hugely popular indie game that was the subject of Indie Game: The Movie. The game has sold over 200,000 copies on Xbox Live to date, and catapulted Fish to video game stardom in mid-2012. The game centers around Gomez, a 2-D character thrust into a 3-D world after discovering the magical Hexahedron. The game was praised  by  critics for its innovative design and forward-thinking gameplay, and it received numerous nominations and awards. Since its release, Fish has been very vocal about his criticism of the games industry, including his comments about Japanese games and, most recently, the Boston bombings.

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The day after the bombings, Reddit users prompted their own ad-hoc investigation into finding the perpetrators of the horrible terrorist act. Redditors quickly centered in on a young man named Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student who had been missing since March 15th. After Kami Mattioli, a high school classmate of Sunli's, declared that she recognized Sunil from photos taken during the Boston marathon, Reddit and Twitter users flagged the comments. It was then that the internet witch hunt to find Sunil began. Sadly, Sunil's body was found on April 23rd off the coast of India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island, and confirmed that he had absolutely nothing to do with the Boston bombings. (For a more detailed explanation of the event, read this great article written by The Atlantic).

Fish tweeted his thoughts about the situation after the discovery of Sunil's body. (Please click the links for the direct Tweets).

"you killed an innocent boy, reddit."

Many users responded to Fish, stating he had his facts wrong and that Sunil had been missing for many days before the Reddit incident occurred.

"@alexrubens @PHIL_FISH   Yeah, quite frankly replying irresponsibly to an irresponsible situation is irresponsible, Phil."

Shortly after, Fish tweeted his personal feelings about what it's like being the center of so much internet hatred, similar to the situation surrounding Sunil.

"i have to live with knowing any day those assholes might REALLY turn against me and ruin mine and my family's life. just like that. for fun."

One user responded "@PHIL_FISH    here's hoping phil" while another tweeted "@PHIL_FISH  you need to have your life ruined, you deserve it."

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But Why so Much Hatred?

All Twitter users often use their accounts to vent frustrations and voice opinions. It seems like Fish, however, can never tweet anything without garnering negative-and sometimes incredibly hateful- responses. But a lot of people seem to think that Fish isn't entitled to his own opinions, or that he can't boast about his success-which many developers in his position could only hope for. Fish created a wonderful and unique game, and he earned that success through hard work and devotion. While his tweets may seem blunt or rash, they do not and should not reflect his work. Kotaku wrote a piece on this subject, arguing that the video game industry needs more people like Phil Fish because he is honest, open, and normal.

The problem could be that the pristine image of games industry folks has been shattered due to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Fans are able to delve into the personal thoughts and feelings of people like Fish, only to discover that they are *gasp* human. The PR industry is no longer able to shield users from the real opinions of the so-called drones of the industry, as seen in the recent debacle with a Microsoft rep.

But is that a bad thing? If anything, it allows users to relate to people who are excited about raising children, nervous about showcasing their products, or crying over something that greatly impacted them - all of whom just happen to work in the video game industry. The anonymity of the internet allows for disgusting comments about encouraging people to kill themselves and hoping their families are harmed. But is that really how people feel about Fish, or is it simply just easy and fun to target him? In the end, Fish has taken it well, and he still receives a great deal of positive comments daily. It is still astounding that users think honesty and realism are reasons to wish death upon him, but welcome to the internet - I guess!
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JohnWittenmeier on May 05, 2013
This is completely true. Sure, people make mistakes, do things people don't like, etc, etc. but come on folks! Phil gave us Fez at least, so give him some much needed GOOD credit for once!
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