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GDC: Colorblind warns "egocentric" indies, Polytron dismisses modern Japanese games

Ben Ruiz advises indies against superior attitude, Phil Fish describes modern Japanese games as "terrible"

Speaking at the Indie Soapbox session at GDC, Team Colorblind's creative director Ben Ruiz criticised the indie community's "egocentric" attitude towards the mainstream industry.

According to a report on Eurogamer, Ruiz compared the mainstream to a "family member," and warned that indie developers are becoming so insular it could prevent them from absorbing valuable new ideas.

"It's destroying our relationships and making us look really silly," he said. "My main concern here is about our rate of growth. How fast can we possibly grow when we behave like this? Nothing thrives in a vacuum."

"Why do we revile what they do so much? I understand from a petty emotional point of view - they oftentimes make games to make money, and they sometimes do creepy things in order to do that. I get it."

Ruiz acknowledged that the products and practices of companies like Zynga, Blizzard and EA could be branded "soulless", "exploitative" and "lazy" respectively. However, he also identified a tendency to ignore the good that can come from the mainstream - Ruiz stated that Zynga, Blizzard and EA have, "brought us a tremendous amount of joy."

My main concern here is about our rate of growth. How fast can we possibly grow when we behave like this? Nothing thrives in a vacuum

Ben Ruiz, Team Colorblind

"Our parents and siblings aren't perfect either, which is what the mainstream industry is. Literally. They've been around a lot longer than we have and apart from the few things they do that we don't do simply because we're different...they're still our family member."

"Please, open your minds. We've so much to share but a lot of it is hitting walls that don't need to be there."

Meanwhile, in a Q+A session following a screening of Indie Game: The Movie - attended by Develop - Polytron's Phil Fish seemed determined to prove Ruiz's point.

An unknown Japanese developer asked the panel of developers - which included both Fish and Braid designer Jon Blow - about their thoughts on contemporary Japanese games.

Fish replied bluntly: "Your games just suck."

Develop observed an awkward response from many members of the crowd as the panel elaborated on Fish's comments with, "a string criticisms about game design flaws in his native country." The site also claims that many attendees were critical of Fish's conduct after the panel had finished, with several making their feelings known on Twitter.

However, Fish remained defiant, later tweeting that Jon Blow had "agreed" with his comments, and stating, "I guess I'm some kind of big racist now... I'm sorry Japanese guy! I was a bit rough, but your country's games are fucking terrible nowadays."

He then qualified his comments to Honeyslug co-founder Ricky Haggett by tweeting, "Well, you know, not ALL of them. Just... a lot of them."

Fish maintains that the details of the panel discussion - which included a comparison between the first and most recent Zelda games - have been overlooked, but he stands by his statement.

"Most modern Japanese games are terrible. You can quote me on that."

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Latest comments (3)

Catherine Goode Technical Designer, SCEE Team Soho9 years ago
I had an unfortunate encounter with Phil Fish. I was at GameCity, playing Fez. I overheard him bitching about main stream development to someone who wanted to join the games industry. He was really putting it all in a bad light, poor guy was heart broken... Phil obviously had some bad experience!

On top of that, his arrogance extended to his game. I was always getting lost, and confused about which doors did what. I asked if it was possible to put markers above the door to suggest to the player the type - I got ranted at instead.

Yeah, not buying his product!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Catherine Goode on 7th March 2012 2:48pm

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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
Fish was not being diplomatic and I'm not sure his wording and attitude would ever be warranted, but there are clearly issues with development out of Japan right now. In the AAA field, it's still often too conservative, behind the technological curve and insular to outside influences. I think that's reflective in how Japanese games have gone from being a large part of the worldwide market to where it is now.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Radd on 7th March 2012 3:57pm

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Ste Hickman Writer 9 years ago
I'd be the first to say that Japan isn't the all conquering creative hub it once was but ironically, for me, some of the best software this gen has come from that country.

Also, The guy is entitled to his opinion but by all accounts the Japanese Dev was humble, polite and for this was ultimately humiliated publicly in a foreign land to the point that it was said he left there and then.

This doesn't reflect well on Mr.Fish frankly. His comment on the state of Japanese development is entirely subjective, It's his attitude that seems to have drawn the most criticism.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ste Hickman on 9th March 2012 12:34am

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