Viacom / GameTrailers should fire Marcus Beer or demand he make an apology

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this piece is solely that of the author and is in no way reflective of Pixel Enemy, its partners or other writers and editors associated therein. I am not a game journalist, I am a teacher who enjoys writing about video games, video game culture and the gaming industry.

Marcus Beer has gone too far.

We’ve previously reported on the incident that recently took place on Invisible Walls, where Marcus Beer referred to Phil Fish as, a “hipster,” a “tosspot,” a “wanker” and a “fucking asshole”, then took it a step further by insulting his game and went so far as to urge other media outlets to boycott future releases by Fish and Jonathan Blow – simply due to the fact they wouldn’t give a comment on a rumor surrounding indie publishing on the Xbox One.

To every outlet that got dismissed by ‘BlowFish’…fuck ‘em. Next time they have something to shill say, ‘nyah…not so interested’.

Phil-FishI have no idea what makes Beer think that the game industry is a “two way street” and that developers should somehow be obligated to reply to an email, let alone make a comment on a rumor that was, at the time, unsubstantiated. In fact, both Blow and Fish mentioned they wanted to hang on until something official was announced. Yet, that didn’t stop Beer from his expletive laden tirade that was both embarrassing and seemingly fueled by nothing more than hate.

Beer seems to truly believe that these two indie developers (and others no doubt) need him and his “voice” to promote their titles and by coming across as a person in a position where he could help or hurt their sales, he places himself in the role of a bully – and this is where the whole problem lies. Beer has such an inflated sense of self worth that he finds it perfectly alright to bully Fish with name calling and personal attacks on his game. Not only that, he seems to think his position gives him some credibility with other media outlets who might follow along with his boycott of future releases.

Think again Marcus. If Fez II (doubtful now) and The Witness (The Witless as you called it) are released, they will make significant news headlines and will most likely be successful releases due to the fact that their previous titles by the same developers were critically acclaimed, despite any peripheral media attention that was brought on the developers due to their appearance in Indie Game The Movie.

jon-blowBullying is a power game – it’s the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behavior can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power (thanks Wikipedia). In this case, Beer is using the “power” of GameTrailers’ reach to push what seems like his private agenda of abusing Phil Fish – and it needs to be checked right now. At the time of press, the Invisible Walls episode had almost 170,000 views and was the most commented piece on GameTrailers.

It’s time for Beer to take responsibility for this shameless attack and apologize, or Viacom / GameTrailers needs to fire him without hesitation. Sure, Beer is an independent personality and he can say whatever he wants on his own, but operating under the Viacom umbrella via GameTrailers (Spike TV), well…he might have to answer to a higher power who state on their own website:

Viacom strives to maintain a work environment that upholds the highest standards of business behavior. Our company values individuals who are ethical, work smart and share the dedication and passion that have made Viacom the success it is today and are crucial for continue​d long-term success.

When Dorito-Gate broke last year, Beer made a comment about the situation that drew attention to the need for standards in the gaming industry. While Beer’s comment is a little out of context with the current situation, it highlights the need for standards and ethics in regards to this whole “games journalism” business. Beer said:

I have to say that everyone I worked with from the major outlets always always acted beyond reproach. I think it helps that these outlets mostly have an internal code of conduct/editorial policy that was crystal clear when it came to what could and could not be done.

What code of conduct/editorial policy were you following on Invisible Walls Mr. Beer?

I don’t know how many times I’ve reached out to publishers or developers who haven’t replied – this in no way justifies vitriol, hatred or the bullying type of behaviour that Beer directed towards Phil Fish. Even though I’m writing for a smaller blog-style video game publication, I’ve had plenty of non-replies from many in the business (I’ve had a few replies too) and it’s just accepted that we reached out for a comment but they didn’t get back to us. End of story. Why would I go on whining about it? Even more so…why would I personally lash out in expletives if I didn’t get a reply?

On a related note, we’ve reached out to Viacom’s Entertainment Group President, Doug Herzog, as well as Kassie Canter (MTV Executive Vice President) and Aileen Budow (Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications) for a comment (via email, Facebook, Twitter and their own website), but hadn’t received any reply at the time of press. We’ve also approached GameTrailers for a statement on the situation via their website, Twitter account and email and will update if we hear anything.

One thing for sure, if we don’t hear from them, I’m not going to be calling them names or posturing for other outlets to boycott them as a source.

the witness orangeOn an even more personal note, as a teacher, I’m constantly faced with issues of students bullying other students, especially online with the growth of social media – and we try and promote resiliency as much as we can. Yet, I also understand everyone has a breaking point…and Phil Fish has been everyone’s punching bag for long enough.

Fez2Does Fish put himself in a position to be bullied? That’s kind of like saying a woman dressed like she wanted to be raped. Sure, Fish is outspoken, rude and comes across as full of himself – but that is no excuse for an established “media personality” to berate him the way Beer did. We’d sort of expect that kind of abuse from the anonymous ranters/commenters that seem to fill the forums these days and who Kevin Dent so eloquently addressed on his blog today.

It’s absolutely no surprise to me that Fish reacted the way he did – and Beer is probably happy with his intended result. People bully for a reason – to elicit a response and establish power. Mission accomplished Beer.

Yet, that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to sit by idly and be witness to it. A bully is only a bully so long as they have the illusion of power – power that’s given to them by their victims and by the silent individuals who stand by and let it go unhindered.

So, this is an open call to Viacom and GameTrailers (and NBC for that matter) to demand Marcus Beer make an apology to Phil Fish, or proceed to terminate his relationship with their organizations immediately.

How anyone with common decency can continue to support this type of behaviour is beyond me – and it’s totally reprehensible.