Japanese Games 'Just Suck' Target Speaks Out

Earlier this week, game designer Phil Fish (above), best known for Fez, set off a firestorm. During a Q&A after documentary Indie Games: The Movie, a Japanese game designer asked Fish what he thought of modern Japanese games. Fish gave his honest opinion — rather bluntly. "Your games just suck," Fish infamously said.

But who was that game designer? How did he feel after being told Japanese games "just suck"?

Earlier today, Japanese website IT Media ran a piece on the developer who asked the question. His name is Makoto Goto, a Tokyo-based game programmer and designer. This was his first Games Developer Conference, and he paid his own way from Tokyo. It was also his first trip abroad by himself.

While watching Indie Games: The Movie, Goto noted how Fish and the other indie game makers seemed influenced by Japanese retro games — something that made him proud. During the Q&A after the documentary, he asked the panel what they thought of Japanese games today.

After Fish's answer, people in the screening room snickered, laughed or let out exclamations of surprise or shock. They all understood what Fish had said — what Fish meant. Goto, however, did not.

Watching an entire movie in another language, without subtitles, is no easy task. Japanese people study English in school, but listening comprehension is notoriously difficult for them. Goto obviously has a good grasp of spoken English.

Moreover, he also seems confident to use his English. Many Japanese people can speak pretty good English, but they are often reluctant to use it, worrying that their pronunciation is bad or that they'll make mistakes. Standing up in an auditorium and speaking in front of a crowd of people is nerve-racking for some — it's nerve racking for me. It becomes even more so when you're speaking in a language that's not your own.

Goto didn't know what Fish meant by "suck". It's slang and not taught in schools or textbooks. Rather, he gathered what it meant by the reaction it caused and the way the mood in the room changed. He, as they say in Japanese, "read the air". Goto was taken aback.

With everyone looking at him Goto said, "I broke out into an uncomfortable sweat." That night, Goto couldn't sleep, turning over the question over and over again in his mind. Goto seemed worried that he didn't understand.

Fish's comment, as previously detailed on Kotaku, blew up. Japanese forums and blogs were buzzing with the young game designer's remarks. Many Japanese gamers were understandably angered. Yet Goto, the person at the centre of this hurricane, showed himself to be level-headed.

Phil Fish is no jerk — outspoken and brash, maybe, but he's not a bad guy. While he probably doesn't regret the sentiment, he did tell Kotaku that he could've used more tact. Earlier today, Fish contacted Goto via Twitter, writing, "I'm very sorry I was so rude to you in my answer. I hope the rest of your GDC was more enjoyable."

Goto replied, "Thank you. I am OK. I had a great experience when I attend GDC at the first time for me." He then added in a separate tweet, "I forgot to mention this... I hope you enjoy your rest of GDC, too."

The simple act of going outside of Japan alone would impress many Japanese who would be worried about language problems or simply being outside their comfort zones. Standing up in a room full of westerners and asking a question in English would impress even more. But the way that Goto handled Fish's blunt reply and dealt with the entire situation won't only impress Japanese people. It impresses everyone.

波紋を呼ぶ「日本のゲームはクソ」発言― [IT Media]

Image: Phil Fish/Indie Game: The Movie.


    He's right.

    Japanese people hate conflict so Goto's answer is pretty standard. Still a massive dick move from fish.

    Yeah, Japanese games really suck, because the following games don't exist or come from an alternate universe: Goku Makaimura, Red Seeds Profile, Demon Souls and Dark Souls, BlazBlue, Arcana Heart, Senjou no Valkyria, Senko no Ronde, Operation Darkness, Dead Rising, Ico, Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi, GunValkyrie, Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu, or countless others.

    Compare that to the likes of Braid, The Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, LIMBO (LOL), Flower (HOLY **** LOL), and other masterpieces of mediocrity.

    And lol that Phil Fish's comment has been reduced to merely being some "racist" remark -- the very allegation of which suggests that Japanese games actually do suck and that we need to hide it to not be "racist". Listen, if Japanese games suck, then all Japanese people can go to hell. On the contrary, as far as I'm concerned, they're in HEAVEN. It's "indie" screensavers that suck, thankyouverymuch.

      You've proved him right if you're going to list AAA japanese games against indie games.

        But isn't he an indie developer?

        And as far as i know there are no indie Japanese games, at least i haven't heard of / seen any.

        So it would be really difficult to compare Japanese indie games vs western indie games.

        And i don't think Japanese games suck, i quite like them and western games as well.

          The whole touhou series of games are all indie. And it's true listing only AAA's agaisnt indie games does indicate that those AAA's wouldn't stand up agaisnt western games

            Okay let's just stop using "AAA" because it makes us all sound like marketers, which is to say, retards. On that note though we would also need to stop using "indie."

            SomeGuy, let me make this absolutely clear to you: JAPANESE GAMES, WHETHER FROM THE PROFESSIONAL INDUSTRY (e.g., the games I listed originally) OR FROM THE AMATEUR/HOBBYIST SCENE (e.g., Touhou) ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY ANNIHILATE NOT ONLY WESTERN AMATEUR GAMES (i.e., "indie" retardations) BUT ALSO PROFESSIONAL WESTERN GAMES WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE GENRES. (Of the games I listed, the only exception would be Dark Souls and Demon Souls, which are basically Western games made by Japanese developers. Is it any surprise, though, that Dark Souls is better than Skyrim?)

            And for those who are bordering on illiterate, I didn't just say that Eastern games are better than Western games. I said that of the genres that the East specializes in (e.g., fighting, shooting, action-platforming, etc.), they absolutely dominate. The West has its own masterpieces, but of entirely different genres.

            The West also has lots of vomit, which is what Fez looks like, that tries to imitate Japanese masterpieces and fails miserably. To be fair, Japan also has vomit (JRPGs).

              I personally enjoy several of the games listed up there, the major ones being blazblue, meat boy and Isaac. Blazblue is great in it's own regard, and so are the other two. Meat boy and Isaac don't have the absolute best graphics, hell Isaac is pretty bad. But they're also good in they're on regard. Meat boy alone can stand up to platforming masterminds, like the original Marios, which goes along in saying that the west has its own masterpieces. You need to get the desu that's so far up your ass out and take a look back and realize that indie games are better than many other games, just like how japan has their own games. I challenge you to tell me 3 things horribly wrong with super meat boy that make it "mediocre."

        LOL, okay "Michael Jackson", so by comparing some good Japanese games to Western "indie" games, I have implicitly established that these Japanese games are better than those Western games -- which you understood just fine. But according to you, Western "indie" games shouldn't be compared to "AAA" Japanese games... and why not? Aren't "indie" games supposed to be REALLY GOOD and CUTTING EDGE? Aren't they supposed to be actual games that we're actually supposed to buy and play, AS OPPOSED TO some amateur stuff that no one is supposed to play but can go into a nice portfolio for the budding game developer?

        One can only infer from YOUR logic that "indie" games can't be compared to "AAA" Japanese games because Western "indie" games are UTTERLY INFERIOR both to "AAA" Western and Japanese games... in which case you would be correct! There is no simply comparison. The only reason I *am* comparing Western "indie" games to real games is because amateur developers like Derek Yu, Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillen, et al. are JUST ASKING FOR IT when they try to shit all over videogames with their "art game" this and "indie game" that. If they had simply kept their heads down and just quietly worked on their little student-level games in the hopes of eventually becoming real developers, I would have no problem with them. They would almost certainly fail due to lack of talent or vision, but at least they wouldn't be annoying the hell out of people like me.

        And it's kind of funny that Japan actually DOES have an "indie" scene (doujin), but one that openly proclaims its amateur/hobbyist nature rather than creating a farcical "indie" category to hide in so that people will be tricked into buying their games. And guess what? It doesn't EVEN NEED such a category, since Japanese amateur titles like Touhou are miles ahead of anything cows like Edmund McMillen could ever even dream of. Because it in some cases is focused on innovation and the cutting edge of game design, it actually competes with your so-called "AAA" category -- something Western "indies" could never hope to do since their focus is on RETROGRESSION.

          "Aren’t “indie” games supposed to be REALLY GOOD and CUTTING EDGE?"

          What the hell makes you think it's the obligation of an indie game to be 'cutting edge' in any way? The whole reason the scene exists is to explore new frontiers when the conventional ones are locked due to financial or political barriers. Hence, they tend to put an emphasis on aspects that many AAA blockbuster games tend to overlook either due to necessity or carelessness.

          Take a chill pill, weeaboo.

            Steve, are you stupid or just joking?

            First you say: "What the hell makes you think it’s the obligation of an indie game to be ‘cutting edge’ in any way?"

            Then: "The whole reason the scene exists is to explore new frontiers"


    And what has Fish contributed to gaming? Some 8-bit platformer? Please. Guy has a bigger head than Anthony Mundine for crying out loud.

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