Jimquisition: Fish, FEZ, And Supporting Art Over Artists

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Great points made and a decent episode overall, even if you did stray away from your character a bit too much there... unless this is all part of some series spanning story-arc where Jim becomes more and more level-headed to the point that he questions his own divinity.

... Nah, that'd never happen.

(at this being racism)

I´m very aware of the creators in all sorts of creative products, i follow music artists and i look up films because i like the directors. But i never chose to abandon something because of the creators, as long as they produced quality material. I like music by Burzum, even though the man is an idiot and probably a nazi, racist and a murderer. I like Taake, even though he also is a moron. I like Megadeth even though Dave Mustaine is raging mad and i like movies by Roman Polanski despite his unfortunate actions. While i detest them for what they have done, and i distance myself from their actions, i also separate their art from who they are. As long as their art isn´t used as a veichle to promote their views and their wrongdoings, i don´t really have a problem with enjoying it.

In some way, you aren´t really supporting Burzums extreme political viewpoints by buying something like Filozofem. Though i would feel differently if he announced that all the money gained from records sales would be used to support his political views, then i would boycut the shit out of him.

For anyone who has become a Jim Sterling fan (been one for several years myself) I highly recommend his weekly gaming podcast over on destructoid: http://destructoid.libsyn.com/ where he and another writer; namely Jonathan Holmes, who himself is quite entertaining and interesting talk about having explicit gay sex with each other, william dafoe, whether something is considered pedophilia or not and on rare occasion video games.

It's not racist to say Japanese games suck. It's been an ongoing topic of discussion since the release of Skyrim, and sometime before. The problem with Japanese games is that the creators are wrapped up in their own metrosexual bubbles and think their shit doesn't stink. It does. It smells cheap and plastic and like I need to blow on it for it to work. I'm saying their characters look 8 bit, a relic of a period when turn-based RPGs ruled and free worlds were relegated to GTA. This is not that time. Now games have open-ended mission or quest systems where the primary goal isn't necessarily to get to the end as quickly and efficiently as possible. The story isn't what the creator dictates to you, but what you make it. The gaming market will be an amazing place when Japanese companies get over themselves and realize their market has evolved without them. The games don't need western stylings - big men with larger chests than your average sperm whale. The base design structure needs to change. We're not watching a movie. We're not reading a novel. We're playing a videogame. The story is no longer the most important part of the game. The gameplay is.

For several years now I haven't seen or purchased a movie with Tom Cruise or John Travolta because I'm strongly opposed to the cult of Scientology. I don't expect that my lack of cash flow into their projects is going to make a difference and shut them down. However, I do believe that if you feel opposed to someone who works on something then you have every right as a consumer to not purchase their product for whatever reason you're opposed to them for.

Jimothy Sterling:
Fish, FEZ, And Supporting Art Over Artists

The past week has seen much discussion concerning FEZ and its creator, Phil Fish. It's struck up some fascinating conversations about whether or not we should support art even if we don't like the artist, and whether someone being an "asshole" ought to factor into the purchase of a product. This week's Jimquisition examines the idea, and attempts to find the middle ground of the debate.

After all, few people are more qualified on the subject of providing content while being a massive dick.

Watch Video

It's a hard thing to argue for or against the existence of what I call the "Polanski Line," or the less-serious Gibson-Cruise Index. How crazy/sick/assholish/etc. does an artist need to be before it actually becomes a bad idea to support their work? Or does it not matter in the slightest, as long as the work is good?

You're right to say there's no singular correct answer... but I'm reluctant to say that simply because there's more than one right answer, it means there's no wrong one.

I think there's a big problem when the personality in question has a bearing on the future of the medium. For instance, continuing to buy products from a company with a history of mistreating its workers can contribute to the decline of working conditions overall if we (the consumer) prove this business practice to be successful.

Of course, devil's advocate objects: By not buying it, you're also punishing the team who already endured those working conditions, and you run the risk that your "lesson" will not be received by the correct audience.

Gah. I'm torn on this. I really am.

It's less that it's racist and more that anyone who dismisses every modern game from Japan probably doesn't have a very good handle on what constitutes good gameplay.

Jimothy Sterling:
Consumers being aware of people behind the games will mean companies like EA and Ubisoft can't get away with shitty business practices.

Except they already do get away with this cause at the end of the day people just want to play the game series they've become attached to. Take ME3, Assassin's Creed, or any number of major titles from EA and Ubisoft. How many thousands of people pissed and moaned about day one DLC, online passes, releasing an unfinished game, only for none of it to matter because those games still sold enough to buy everyone who worked on them a gold house.

Gaming has this strange culture where we'll complain about developers, the people behind the games, but we don't actually DO anything to stop them apart from petitions. Mass Effect 3 especially where untold numbers of threads were of people saying that it was bullshit that EA/Bioware would dare to release a game only to have us pay more for the ending, AND THEN SAY THEY'D STILL BUY THAT ENDING IN THE SAME BREATH.

This is the most informative era in the history of mankind, and if all that exposure to developers and publishers has done nothing to halt their practices, I honestly don't see what would. Gamers are rather stuck in a position where the only way to change anything would be for them to give up on their favorite franchises, and good luck making that happen.

My problem isn't with the argument itself since I haven't bought a Capcom, Konami, Namco or Square game since 2007. All other companies are fine.

The problem is how they present their argument, instead of making constructive criticism or stating their opinions they make a blanket statement and just say the games are crappy.

Of course people don't have to justify their opinions nor are they wrong, but showing goodwill or expressing their worldview is more respectable than making generalizations and acting pompous towards "competition."

I was sure you were going to talk about EA and its new title of worst company, but anyway.
It can be really difficult to separate art from the artist when you automatically make a connection. In my case I was really enjoying super meat boy until I heard about how much of a moron its creator was, after that I just couldn't play without remembering all I read about him.
So I now have a policy of only paying attention to the game and completely ignore who made it.

It's a good point, one I've not really thought about. You often see one person as the face of a game or a company, one wrong move on their part could seriously put a lot of people off. I suppose I'm one of the people who tends to buy it whether or not I think I'll enjoy it, but now I've had it exposed to me I'll probably think about it.

It's almost an impossible choice to make, for the once dick that is the face of the game could leading a team of selfless, open minded philanthropist who exude auras of kittens and rainbows.

Hey Jim, is listening to Michael Jackson pedophilia or not?

I don't see how listening to any kind of music can be or support a natural psychiatric disorder.




It wasn't just that, it was the fact that he said ALL games from Japan suck, including classic games. He wasn't even asked about Japanese games, he was asked by a Japanese developer some other question about that movie he was involved with and his response was "Your countrys games suck."

Plus, it has a chance of hurting localization, if you were a big wig at a Japanese country and all you were hearing was about how US developers were bashing your games, would you want to localize them?

He did backtrack and said current Japanese games suck (which to a degree they do but so does some American games) so I might get this. Also, a lot of people pointed out the gameplay is a lot like Super Paper Mario, a current Japanese game.

I know he said all Japanese games suck, that's what I said. And so what if he did? I still don't think it matters that much. And I hardly think that any Japanese publisher who isn't already coming out with retarded reasons not to release their games in the West is going to do it just because one pretentious arrogant dick says he doesn't like their games.

Its not just him, its Bioware, Tommy Tallarico, the people from X-Play and the guy who made Braid who have also said it.

In fact, I'm still harrased over what Bioware said whenever I say I like JRPGs I get flak for it and the reason is "Bioware says that they're bad, so you have shitty taste in games."

Or Tomonobu Itagaki at the very same convention that Fish made his "infamous" charge. The funniest part: Itagaki basically said the exact same thing and in fact went MUCH further.

I wonder how many people are protesting Fish's not-racism who enjoyed "Ghost Writer" or "The Pianist." Just saying: everyone picks their battles.

Separating art from the artist can be very tricky, and it mostly comes down to where you draw the line and how much compromise you're willing to give. In some cases I can let some assholish behavior slide as with Alan Moore...

Alan's never struck me as an asshole. An eccentric with strong opinions, sure, but he's always seemed like a very thoughtful and principled man. For all his 'take my name off this hollywood bastardization of my work' tantrums that makes the press, it's often overlooked that he literally stands by that conviction at great personal cost, as he forwards his portion of the royalties entitled to him to the respective illustrator he's collaborated with on the work (Dave Loyd and Dave Gibbons for V4V and Watchmen, respectively)... He might be a thorn in the side of 'the system', but he's always been very cordial, polite and respectful in dealing with fans, friends and peers - EG: though he vehmently disagreed with Frank Millers position on the Occupy movement, he was very even handed and neutral in speaking on the topic.

Just curious what he did that rubbed you the wrong way?



It's very true that in this society it's almost impossible to exist without supporting people you don't like. As money changes hands, you will inevitably, indirectly throw funds into streams of revenue going towards people or establishments you would not willingly support. This is simply unavoidable in the economic reality of the world today. I agree with J. Sterling's point on the positive effect of raising consumer awareness on a broader scale, though, despite the arguable insignificance of personal moral boycotts.

Additionally, I think it's interesting that indie developers exist as much higher profile personalities than many of the people who make up larger teams in the 'commercial' game industry. Cliff Bezinski or David Jaffe or Peter Molyneux may be figureheads, but exist more as the stars supported atop an entire Christmas tree of developers, engineers, artists and PR. To the contrary, indie developers (generally) are much closer to a 1:1 relation to their projects and products in terms of public perception - that they ARE the developing body and the main recipient of it's success (technically true or false as it may be).

If all he said was "present day Japanese games suck", that's nothing to crucify him for imo.

I'll bet most of us say worse things than that on a daily basis, we're just not accountable for it.

EDIT: Eh, after looking at his following comments, he's not exactly a pleasant guy, but great things come from assholes all the time.

I couldn't care less about people who create art I enjoy. Well, the personal stories and interviews do interest me quite often but the personality of people involved doesn't influence my opinion of their creation in any way. Just as I don't buy stuff/like it more because I find the artist sympathetic, I won't boycott or stop enjoying a video game/book/movie/whatever just because the artist turns out to be a dick. For all I care they can very well deny the holocaust all day and eat babies for breakfast.

So polite today, Jim. What's gotten into you? Also lately I've noticed if I listen to podtoid then Jimquisition will just be a more well-argued summary of something I've already listened to.

Wow. Umm... So Doug is so devout a Christian that he's a homophobe?

... The Neverhood suddenly stopped being as endearing as it used to be now. I'm not even sure about Earthworm Jim anymore.

Never heard of the bloke till this video. FEZ is a nice idea but there are other games I'm more willing to spend my money on. As to the support of art over artists, yeah I'd agree with that, I still buy EA games even though I hate the online pass system.

Speaking of EA, how the hell did EA win the worst company in America and how the hell did it beat every financial institution in the United States? Did everyone forget the financial crisis?

...So Inafune can say Japanese game sucks, but when the Fez guys does it then that's not okay?

i wont buy another of Peter Molyneux work coz i find the whole of fable to be a very shit game

Bob Velwest:
"there is no such thing as bad press" I hadn't hear of fez before the controversy and now I'm considering getting it because it looks good and I don't care about Fish.

I sort of agree, not to mention it seems he just had abit of a rag on the current state of the Japanese games industry, not exactly that bad a thing. I'd like to know EXACTLY what he said though, gotta have all the info on a issue first, you know?

...So Inafune can say Japanese game sucks, but when the Fez guys does it then that's not okay?

Inafune was constructive, Fish's initial comments were just trolling. Thats what people were upset about.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's obvious to everyone but me until now, but the more I listen to Jim, the more I'm starting to think he's gay. Not that I care, I love the big jackass but I can't shake the feeling lol.

wow , jim makes even more sense after 3 rum and cokes. amazing!!!!!1
thank god for jim
Anyhow this fish guy seems so be a arse. But jim makes a good point,id still think about buying fez regardless of what fish has done, he didnt make it byhimself after all.

perhaps one of jims best episodes to date. I just really enjoyed listening to him on it


To be honest just about every creator of note has been the same way, it takes strong positions to create things of worth. With western society largely split 50-50 between the left and right wings, it's not surprising that your seeing a lot of creators coming from the right wing camp, even if the left wing generally dominates the media. To an extent what your seeing with Phil Fish is the pendelum starting to swing back the other way, with people who don't entirely follow the left wing ideas of political correctness increasingly speaking their minds despite this.

I'll also say that creators are almost always arseholes. You'll find that a lot of the great writers, painters, and creators throughout history are not only complete dillweeds by today's standards if you read about them, but were also on the fringes of society during their own time. If you judge people by having opinions, even in their work, that you don't agree with, chances are your likely to wind up appreciating very little. What we're seeing here is a matter of the current counter culture (yes, right wing is the new counter culture, due to the left wing having gained media prominance) increasingly speaking out, which is why awareness of this kind of thing and what creators think (which isn't always PC) is making the news.

I don't agree with you and a lot of what you're saying is the old idea of the "tortured genius" or the idea that you have to be crazy or an asshole to be creative.

First of all, for example, Orson Scott Card's Mormon faith and alleged homophobia (I've read about the whole thing and it's hard to say if he's truly homophobic or just unwilling to accept it. Regardless.) have nothing at all to do with Ender's Game, which is a really good book, that is really well written. Simply having strong position on something doesn't equate to creativity.

Second, just because we only hear about the crazies, the assholes, the bigots in creative fields doesn't mean that there aren't many genial, friendly and liberal people plying their craft without offending people or acting insane.

Perhaps you'll disagree, but I imagine that for every "dillweed" creative type you find, I can name one that isn't. All we may find out is that all sorts of people are creative in different ways and it doesn't take mental illness or xenophobic attitudes to be successful in an artistic or creative field.

As for your ida of the pendulum swinging, I agree, somewhat. It does swing, but each swing towards the right, towards bigotry and racism, towards radical conservatives to fundamental religion is lesser than the last one and of shorter duration. I've read some interesting theories that the current antics of the Republican Party in the USA are sort of a last gasp of crazy before their rhetoric is shouted down by a majority of accepting, liberal and reasoned people who are fed up with their ideas.

Jim is possibly one of the biggest assholes that can back himself up with reasonable, intellectual arguments. He's probably up there with Yahtzee... actually, no, I'd say he's probably above Yahtzee because while Yahtzee seems to still kinda be stuck in a rut where he still believes that JRPGs will simply never interest him, as well as certain genres altogether (which is a respectable opinion, I suppose), Jim is the person to go out there and try to reach a type of middleman that looks at the argument and tries to find an even compromise. Despite being a bit of an asshat at times, he's probably one of the most sensible and reasonable people on the Escapist, ironically.

And as for this, I do agree with him on a certain degree. While it is your money to spend wherever you want to, I do think it's a bit selfish and ignorant to not buy a game simply on the word of one person alone. Companies like Ubisoft are understandable why you'd boycott their services; their DRM is absolute crap and we, as a collective medium, should tell them that instead of funding their recent ventures into it, but to not buy something like FEZ, a game I hadn't even heard of until Jim mentioned it, and looked really interesting and unique from his footage alone, simply because the creator seems to be a bit of a prick, seems a bit silly.

After all, when you think about it, there's a lot of big pricks in the world and in history. Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford are possibly two of the most iconic figures in American history, and both of them were huge antisemites and possibly Nazi sympathizers. Am I going to hold that against them? ... Possibly yes, but that doesn't mean I'm going to discount their achievements in the world.


In fact, I'm still harrased over what Bioware said whenever I say I like JRPGs I get flak for it and the reason is "Bioware says that they're bad, so you have shitty taste in games."

Bioware never said JPRGs were bad AFAIK, it was the lead writer of SWTOR, who said something along the lines of "You can put a j in front of it all you want, but those games aren't RPGs."

He chose to open his mouth... Whatever he gets is his own fault. Fuck em. He's a grown man and probably understands the concept of being diplomatic. He chose not to engage in that manner and I chose not to engage his game.

Oh and I don't think he's racist. Just a dumbfuck not worth dealing with.


Instead of calling the guy a racist, why not try to refute his point about the Japanese industry?


Platinum, Atlus, From Software, Mario Galaxy.

To be fair though he never bothered to clarify his point. He never pointed out what about the entirety of Modern Japanese Game design was flawed.



In fact, I'm still harrased over what Bioware said whenever I say I like JRPGs I get flak for it and the reason is "Bioware says that they're bad, so you have shitty taste in games."

Bioware never said JPRGs were bad AFAIK, it was the lead writer of SWTOR, who said something along the lines of "You can put a j in front of it all you want, but those games aren't RPGs."

SAtill dosen't stop people from bashing people who like the genre.

Wait what? Earthworm Jim... how do I... *stares at Earthworm Jim HD laying on harddrive*

...I shouldn't feel like this. I didn't know what's-his-face was a racist and homophobe when I bought it, so knowing it now shouldn't make that product any less fun for me. ...but um... yeah, how do I permanently scrub games off my account again? OH GOD I PLAYED THE GAME WITH MY BOYFRIEND AT ONE POINT TOO, THIS IS JUST *barfs*

...well thanks Jim for telling me that fact.... THAT SAID I fucking love Interplay. Seriously. God bless Interplay. So... so maybe it balances itself out after all. ...Interplay saves the day once more! ^_^

Zachary Amaranth:

Hey Jim, is listening to Michael Jackson pedophilia or not?

It's not pedophilia, but one could questionably argue that it was support of pedophilia.

Of course, this brings up an interesting problem, since virtually none of the products we buy are untainted.

"Virtually" indeed, almost none actually. Do you know how many slaves "work" for you? You can estimate this:

I'm boycotting this game until there's a PS3 version. (I like the controller more.) Same with Super Meat Boy. I separated art from the artists a long time ago. If I hear the artist is really screwed up in some ways, it doesn't taint the piece in my mind, but usually makes it more interesting. If I don't like the back story behind it, I ignore it and just enjoy the art for itself. It's sort of the way I enjoy outsider artists in music. People like Roky Erickson and Tonetta have some fairly fascinating life stories that influence and enhance the art they create. When I watched The Devil and Daniel Johnston, I realized that guy is kind of a selfish violent jerk, so I just paid more attention to the weird and pretty songs on their own merits.

At the end of the day, I came to understand how little of a "dollar vote" I have when it comes to buying products. And if the acts of the creators doesn't directly affect me in some way (like forcing me to run down the batteries on my xbox controller), I don't really care, nor do I feel an obligation to care. When other people do care, it comes off as a little silly.

Didn't Jim do a video all about how creators usually don't own their intellectual property and bemoaned the fact that the studio was doing nothing with the Metal Arms franchise? That Doug guy probably doesn't get royalties off of the games.


...So Inafune can say Japanese game sucks, but when the Fez guys does it then that's not okay?

Inafune was constructive, Fish's initial comments were just trolling. Thats what people were upset about.

Actually, in an interview with Wired, Inafune said that Fish's comments were "necessary."

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