If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

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."

Related topics
Matthew Handrahan avatar

Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.