Indie Game: The Irresponsible Movie

I watched Indie Game: The Movie last night, and it made me furious.

I should start by saying that I knew I would have some major issues with the film, but what I saw was even more shocking than what I expected. The thing is, that “business partner” that Fez creator Phil Fish refers to — and ends up slandering throughout the film — is one of my very good friends. I won’t name him here, since he’s had to suffer through enough of late over this, but I couldn’t stay silent about the documentary (or Fez).

I won’t go into details of the whole story behind Fez (it’s not my place to do so), but I have had a very close ear to the entire process of making it. When it was still an early prototype, my friend — who was still based in Tokyo at the time (he returned to Canada to work on the game) — shared video of it at one of my very early editions of PauseTalk in order to get feedback. Three years ago, when I was unable to move because of my spinal injury, he came to my home — he was in town for the Tokyo Game Show — and let me play the current build of the game at the time. Following that, I’d hear countless stories on how his partnership with Phil was going — the bad and the ugly, there really wasn’t much good — and in a way I was relieved when he finally broke free from the project.

In the film, Phil is one of the four main indie game developers who are featured throughout, and in countless scenes you see him not only commit what amounts to character assassination, but he flat out tries to justifty his incoherent ramblings by setting himself up as a victim — and nevermind the fact that he threatens to kill said “business partner,” which can’t be taken lightly considering his apparentfragile mental state.

But more than just being upset by what Phil had to say, I’m shocked at how irresponsible the creators of the documentary were in portraying a situation that was far more complex than what was shown, not even trying to give a full picture of what was happening, thereby turning my friend into a villain.

To add salt to the wound, after he became aware of the way he was being portrayed — the film had been screened at a few gaming conferences — my friend asked the creators to add a note in the credits that would indicate that he had never been asked to participate. The result? The film was released two weeks ago with a note in the credits that indicates that it was Phil’s “business partner” who had asked not to participate. What?

To their credit, after they were approached about this, they did change the note and re-release the film, but just the fact that something so careless was done just adds to the already careless job they did of portraying my friend in the film, allowing Phil to try and destroy my friend’s reputation.

Shame on you Phil Fish, and shame on you Indie Game: The Movie.

Update: I’ve written a follow-up post, to respond to the feedback from this post.

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.