Incendiary indie game developer Phil Fish is once again in the news, this time on the receiving end of a particularly devastating series of hacks and doxxing incidents, purportedly originating from 4chan’s /v/ board. The missive announcing the attack called it a “public execution of Polytron and Phil Fish,” supposedly from “head mod and leader of 4chan.org and Anonymous,” which cannot be confirmed or refuted.
What can’t be denied, however, are the results: 1.5 gigabytes of personal information belonging to both Fish and his company were leaked to the web, including passwords for both his personal and Polytron Twitter accounts, the company’s financial and Paypal information, and Fish’s home address and banking information. The leak was confirmed by Fez programmer Renaud Bedard via Twitter.
The reason behind the attacks was “retaliation for [Fish’s] attempted coverup of five guys burgers and fries,” a reference to ongoing drama revolving around indie game developer Zoe Quinn. Fish had been vocal—very vocal—in his defense of Quinn online, raising the ire of onlookers by referring to Quinn’s detractors as “absolutely pathetic, ball-less manboobs” and “essentially rapists” in a series of tweets that are long-since deleted. Anyone who has followed Fish’s account will realize that those were fairly common statements from the combative developer, who has often found himself at odds with his own fans after the critical acclaim of Fez and the cancellation of Fez 2.
After the leak, a clearly distraught Fish again took to Twitter and composed an emotional series of tweets that ranged from “this is what I get, this is unacceptable,” to “to every aspiring game developer out there: don’t. Give up. It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth this. Give up on your dreams. They are actually nightmares.” Those tweets, along with all the others, have since been deleted, along with Fish’s account.
Ultimately, this may be the end of an undeniably talented developer’s time in the industry, a guy who has seemingly had all he can stand and thrown his hands up in the air for good. He announced that “Polytron and the Fez IP are now for sale, no reasonable offer will be turned down. I am done. I want out.” Time will tell if that offer is serious, and how much interest there is from outside parties in a Polytron purchase.
It should go without saying that regardless of a person’s beliefs or personality, such massive and disruptive doxxing is a heinous way to attack someone. Nobody deserves what Phil Fish and his company have experienced in the last few days, but such cyber-attacks have become an all-too-common story. A Wild West attitude still permeates the web, where either misguided or misanthropic hackers continue to wield largely unregulated powers that make personal privacy ever more difficult to assure.