BlowFish: A New Portmanteau for Arrogant, Self-Aggrandizing Indie Developers
Its Sunday, so lets blow off some steam! My rant this week is about indie game mouthpieces.
In a recent discussion on the brilliant cool-club-for-awesome-people (CDT Facebook group), we coined a phrase that was so perfect we couldn’t believe we came up with it. Or, more accurately, we couldn’t believe that site member Gary Hogg had come up with it.
For some context, we were discussing the two most controversial figures in indie games: Phil Fish and Jonathan Blow. Why are they so infamous?
Well, Phil Fish has run afoul of controversy and raised ire amongst gamers over the patching of his indie super-hit Fez. As well as leaving gamers with a somewhat compromised product (though some blame Microsoft’s exorbitant patching fees), he also more recently judged a whole nation’s games to be bad. His verdict on Japanese games was that they were all “bad“. More recently though, he seemed to mock the PC game community. To be fair, they did deserve it though. They wanted to play his game. The heartless bastards!
Jonathan Blow meanwhile recently Tweeted that the gaming press should be writing about overblown art wank-fest Starseed Pilgrim (ok, its not that bad really), but instead are “writing about AC3 and Tomb.. something”. This is both stupid and wrong. Wrong because Tomb Raider is an amazing game made by a team of talented people who deserve more respect, and because many, many sites are writing about Starseed Pilgrim and none are writing about AC3 now. And stupid because who died and made Jonathan Blow the de-facto spokesperson for what games are “worthy”.
Neither Blow nor Fish came across well in Indie Game The Movie (in my opinion at least), with Blow in particular bitter about the HIGH review scores he received for Braid by games critics who didn’t score it highly for the right reasons.
The truth is these two have co-opted the good name of indie game devs. They are supposedly flying the flag for indie games, but in typical CTF style they have metaphorically run off with it, more interested in their personal success than the rest of the “team”.
Most indie devs I’ve met are amazingly talented people, who are self-effacing and constantly impress me with what they can do. Making a game is really tough, and requires hard work and ability. No matter how hard we games writers work, making a game is harder, requires more talent, vision and tenacity than a million written games reviews. The problem is that sometimes the loudest, most dissenting views are the ones that are heard. This is partly the fault of the press too. We focus on those personalities to the detriment of the quieter, more modest but often more interesting voices that are out there.
So back to my original point. We needed a name for these blowhards. These indie game personalities that make everyone else look bad. These self-aggrandizing loudmouths who court controversy and damage the reputation of games development as a whole.
And we have one now. We call them BlowFishes. Lets see if it catches on!