Who is Phil Fish? This is Phil Fish.

This 19 minute video talks about Phil Fish, who those in the indie gaming world hate because he is talented with strong opinions. But people don’t hate Phil Fish as much as they hate the concept of Phil Fish.

You’re asking yourself, Who is Phil Fish?

He created Fez. A much-loved and well-received video game. He was also heavily featured in Indie Game: The Movie where he and others talk about their long, hard road to creating a game.

Phil Fish is hated the same way Nickelback is hated. Because they’re not being famous the right way. Or because they’re famous and shouldn’t be. Either way, people hate them more for the concept of them, rather than the real person or band.

I write about this today because of another event in the news. Microsoft bought Mojang, the creator of Minecraft. As this news was announced, the founder Marcus Persson, better know as Notch posted to his blog he was leaving the company.

He posted this to his blog.

I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

Just as Phil Fish was attacked endlessly, eventually driving him to cancel a sequel to Fez and close all of his social network accounts. Notch is retreating from public life for similar reasons.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

The creator of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen removed his outrageously popular game because of the death threats and abuse being hurled at him. He was accused of ripping off other games and artwork. He refused to give interviews or even talk about his game to the media. He then did the unthinkable.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

Pulling Flappy Bird, a punishingly hard yet highly addictive game from the App Store spawned a legion of clones and imitators. He is back now with another game, Swing Copters. It appears to be just as hard and addicting as the last.

In all three cases, we have creators working hard, putting things out into the world hoping they’ll be liked. Video games, especially one-man shops or small teams can pour months or years into a game. Only to have it fail or worse, be ignored entirely.

But the cost of fame may be even higher. The cost of being thrust into the public spotlight. To be threatened by hundreds or thousands of anonymous people from all across the internet. How would you handle it if you were sent death threats and negativity every place imaginable?

With internet lynch mobs springing up, why would anyone want to be a public figure? No one controls the mob and to become a target is a miserable and terrifying thing.

I haven’t written about GamerGate and the hateful attacks on Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian because I honestly don’t know enough to do it justice. If you want to hear a good discussion on what’s happening, listen to Isometric 18: Rainbows and Sunshine. They provide a good overview of it. In short, it’s women being attacked on the internet for being women on the internet.

I did not intend to write about only men experiencing problems on the internet. They are stories I already knew. I attempted to find the facts of how GamerGate got started and all I can tell is an ex-boyfriend of Zoe published information about her that may or may have not been true. I don’t know. And her game Depression Quest was released on the day of Robin William’s suicide. Something Zoe wrestled with.

After a long uphill battle since getting Greenlit in January, Depression Quest was planned to, and approved for, launch on Steam today. Literally minutes after we got the notification, beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead from a suspected suicide after a long struggle with depression. We were all ready to hit the big red button the minute that the news broke.

So now I’m left with the question – do we launch, or not? I turned to twitter and my most trusted friends for advice because I can see going a few different ways. It’s not an easy decision.

She did decide to publish it. And that drew ire as well. I’ve watched a couple of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on Youtube, and didn’t know who she was at the time. Her offenses appear to be pointing out the poor treatment of women in the gaming industry and their depiction in games.

In short, it’s a terrifying look at internet lynch mobs.

Photo credit: włodi on Flickr