1. The most important takeaway here — and it’s buried a bit, maybe just implied — is that most things that are made in any field/genre are pretty mediocre and so a blanket “Your games just suck” isn’t very useful. He wraps this in an observation about Japanese games being more prone to using figurative forms of representation vs. U.S. developers drive towards literalism (he uses ‘symbol’ for the former and ‘sign’ for the latter, pulling the terminology from a 1953 philosopher, but that pretty much ignores how those words are used these days, both in academia and out).

    But back to the semi-meaty controversy: Phil Fish’s comments were obviously impolitic (and I think if you look at Nintendo’s continually high-quality and charming output, for example, outright wrong). At minimum, had he said “Japanese games these days suck” instead of “Your games just suck” he’d be on slightly better footing here. And he would have been perfectly in the clear had he said “I grew up in love with Japanese games. Japanese games are what made me who I am today and I’d never have been able to make something like Fez without that background. But I’m concerned about where Japanese games are trending these days because I just don’t think any of them are interesting any more.”

    So it was an idiotic thing to say, the way he said it, but I do feel sympathy for the guy. He’s a highschool grad, no college, and his milieu is videogames. From whom was he going to learn how to be a (semi-)prominent public figure?

  2. [missing an apostrophe after ‘U.S. developers’ in the first paragraph]

  3. There are some interesting ideas in that article but my word are they muddled.

    nobody said : The most important takeaway here — and it’s buried a bit, maybe just implied — is that most things that are made in any field/genre are pretty mediocre and so a blanket “Your games just suck” isn’t very useful.

    Yes, this. Beyond not useful: meaningless as a phrase because the scope of “Modern Japanese games” is so broad as to not allow easy summary. Even the author of the linked piece in discussing this doesn’t actually talk about “modern Japanese games.” He talks about JRPGs.

    to get to the point […] Western gaming culture’s complete dismissal of another culture’s artistic structure on the grounds that JRPGs are (generally) crap fails to recognize that our culture is otherwise slipping into a loving death-embrace with the cognitively simpler mode of expression–pure, animal-like signification–over the inherent complexity of abstraction.

    We’ve somehow gone from a general attack on “all modern Japanese games” to “all JRPGS generally and not necessarily modern ones.” Wait, what?

    I believe [Fish’s] comment to be an offshoot of that basic idea, “JRPGs suck!” twisted into something else, warped nearly beyond recognition.

    Sufficiently beyond recognition, in fact, that I have no damn idea how the author got there. Fish doesn’t write RPGs! He’s not inspired by RPGs! As the author himself notes, one of Fish’s inspirations was Super Mario Brothers — a platformer. Maybe there’s something I’m missing here, but I just don’t see any proof to back up this claim. It is as if the author wanted to shoehorn in a completely separate article into a commentary on Fish’s commentary.

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