By GameCentral - 21st April, 2012

Boycotting FEZ and the Nature of Art - Reader's Feature

A GameCentral reader discusses the controversy over FEZ creator Phil Fish and asks whether we have to like the artist to enjoy their creations?

FEZ - great game but what about the developer? FEZ - great game but what about the developer?

Some of you may have noticed that Phil Fish has finally released FEZ. Of those that noticed, some appear to be boycotting the game due to his comment that Japanese games 'just suck'. There was a follow-up article, though it seems to only exist on Kotaku so it is not too surprising that not everyone has read it.

Was he rude in his comments? Absolutely. Did he have a valid point?  Keiji Inafune and Jonathan Blow apparently think so. Am I trying to defend him? Not particularly, but I feel that people should be informed on the subject. I also felt that the boycotting of a piece of art due to the views of the creator is an interesting phenomenon that deserves some analysis.

Warning: The following is extrapolated from personal experience and opinion. Relevance will vary from person to person.

Some people argue that art should stand by itself, independent of the creator. Though that is a noble ideal, I believe the issue is more complex than that. It is sometimes possible to tell the difference between a song that is created purely for the purpose of selling CDs, and a song which is created as a piece of art – there is of course some overlap, and some factor of human error.

In my opinion, I can only enjoy music as long as it feels 'authentic' (in an existentialist sense). A song created to sell copies feels hollow and meaningless by comparison, even though the songs in question can have identical subject matter.

Why is it possible to determine this? Maybe it’s a delusion, but I think that when an artist creates something, they put part of themselves into it. I believe that art is a reflection of the artist, and when you are immersed in a particular art form, it becomes easier to determine what feels authentic.

Art is a reflection of the artist because it comes from within – after all, how can you create something if it doesn’t come from thoughts and feelings inside of you? Perhaps when you really like a piece of art, or at least can claim to understand it, it is because it is also a reflection of you.

The art, being a reflection of both the artist and the consumer, forms a connection between the two. As such, you not only identify with the art as a reflection of yourself, but with the artist. You may feel that that artist is similar to you, and perhaps that the artist truly understands you as a human being.

But they artist is also a human being, with views and opinions. They may be raving anti-Semites like Mel Gibson allegedly is. They may try to deny horrors that their country has committed during wartime. Or they may even be rude and say that Japanese games 'suck'.

When an artist we have previously identified with and felt similar to expresses an opinion that we find distasteful, or even repulsive, it is understandably difficult to resolve their views with our own sense of personal identity.

Some people start to enjoy the art less, as they now identify with it and the artist less. Some people manage to look past it, and enjoy the art while ignoring the artist. Some people start to boycott the works of the artist entirely.

Each person is entirely within their rights and entitled to react in whatever way they do. Everyone is different, everyone has different limits, and everyone identifies with art in different ways.

Or, at least, that’s how I interpret the situation.

By Joseph Dowland

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.  

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email .

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  • Photo of ConsoleKing
    1:28 AM on 4/23/2012


    I saw Robert Florence getting his panties in a twist over this, honestly, the guy needs to get over himself. His own personal opinion on what games you should like is beyond a joke. His patter on stuff like having to weep due to something said in a game right through to boycotting Fez over a comment made, this to me just highlights how out of touch the so caled god of games has become.

    He always threatens to bring back his game review show but I can't help but feel that him trying to force his opinions on the public could possibly make for the worst bit of gaming tv since dexter fletchers stint on gamemaster...please Rab, shut the hell up, you have become a spamming bore machine!

  • Photo of Dserved
    7:34 PM on 4/22/2012


    Really great piece this. Just wanted to give Joseph Dowland kudos on an excellently written article, expressing in-depth and well put points.

  • Photo of cheap pocketman
    4:36 PM on 4/22/2012

    cheap pocketman

    Freedom of speech. It's the guys opinion on a type of game. I know people that dislike japanese games, and thats fine, its what they find fun or not. It's a matter of personal taste.

  • Photo of DrBro
    1:53 PM on 4/21/2012


    People are shocked and outraged because somebody said something they didn't agree with or they didn't happen to say it in a pleasant manner? Interesting.

    It was P.R. problem if anything. It shouldn't have any affect on the inherent qualities of his game. People within all artistic mediums make outlandish comments all the time. A lot of art comes about from a rebellion against a certain grain.

    I don't get the culture we live in right now where we have to pretend to ourselves everybody slightly famous is a real nice guy. It's like when footballers getting made out to be role models solely because they're in the public eye regardless of the fact they are probably the least qualified people to be role-models. Apparently a lot of people turn a blind eye to that though.

    If i buy Fez then i buy the game Fez. I don't buy Phil's personal views about things that he may have separately or even which religion he may subscribe to as a result. Do i want to put money in his pocket as Dynamite Headdy said? Well that's debatable but i'd say you should judge that on the inherent merits of the game itself, not how the creator feels about Japanese games, Japanese food or coco-pops.

  • Photo of Jb316
    1:53 PM on 4/21/2012


    The fact he was dumb enough to make the comment without thinking about the impact it would have shows his stupidity. I feel sorry for the team who have worked on the game who will lose out because of him.

    I wont buy the game because of the comment, plus im too busy playing through dark souls and super mario galaxy 2 at the moment. yeah japanese games really do "suck" eh...

  • Photo of Dynamite Headdy
    9:08 AM on 4/21/2012

    Dynamite Headdy

    The developer's comments won't influence my opinion of the game, but they will influence my willingness to put money in his pocket. Now that you've brought it to my attention that it was him who made those comments, I won't be buying Fez. There are plenty of other good games out there, vying for my time and my dollar. Some of them are even Japanese.

  • Photo of Petch1984
    7:04 AM on 4/21/2012


    For me it has a definite negative impact but I wouldn't fully dismiss anything just because of it's creator - for example, many beneficial technologies have come about either due to war or from countries with questionable human rights practises.

    Of course it is more choice rather than necessity in regards to art and entertainment but should we restrict or deny progression and achievement? Would we simply harm future "good" artists by stalling the movement?

    The comments the Fez guy made were incredibly stupid, rude and completely untrue (in my mind at least). I also find it odd that his game looks so much like a classic Japanese game. But his game could inspire others as he himself was by games..

    Once you see the guy's comments you can't un-see them so it will force me to be more critical when I play it but I won't dismiss the game outright no matter how annoying his comment was.

  • Photo of Lainey80
    3:09 AM on 4/21/2012


    I boycotted Fez because of Fish, I'll be getting it when it goes on sale for 400msp as Fish seemed to think that an 800msp price would be giving it away. Also his comments and twitter rants really do show off what an ignorant arrogant person he is and I have no desire to fund him.

    But a great game is a great game and I don't question his ability even if it took 5 years to get there.

  • Photo of Meestah Bull
    1:42 AM on 4/21/2012

    Meestah Bull

    Oh and Christian Bale, complete tool but what an actor

  • Photo of Meestah Bull
    1:39 AM on 4/21/2012

    Meestah Bull

    Awesome article. Virtually nothing to do with video games but great piece. James Brown; hit his wife and lead the police on a dangerous car chase that endangered other drivers making him a bit of a d*ck but by God what a stunning musical legacy he left behind him.

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