Yesterday, it was announced that Mohammad Fahmi had passed away.
To most of the readers of this blog, that name likely means nothing. But to me it was a gut punch.
Fahmi was the creator and developer of an excellent indie game from a few years back called Coffee Talk. This game centered around a fantasy world’s coffee shop and the antics that happen on the other side of the bar. The player controls the barista during coffee preparation and makes occasional dialogue choices, but most of the game is played as if reading a novel, also called a visual novel in the gaming world.
The game was a sleeper hit that did very well and had been on my radar for quite some time. Despite knowing that I would love it, I took my time and waited to enjoy it until earlier this year, even though the game released in January of 2020.
It was one of those can’t-put-this-one-down games. I binged it and thought of little else while I played it.
As I am usually wont to do, I had to learn everything about the game and its development after rolling credits. I needed to follow the team on Twitter. I needed to watch YouTube videos. I needed to know the easter eggs and trivia.
I went on my deep dive and discovered Fahmi and his other games. Coffee Talk was so clearly his passion project that he had put so much time and effort into. He has two games that were slated for release this year, which may or may not still be possible to publish posthumously.
I became an instant member of his nonexistent fanclub.
He isn’t the first to have this effect on me. I long to know more about ConcernedApe aka Eric Barone, another indie developer who found outstanding success with the viral Stardew Valley. Kotaru Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka, behind the game series Zero Escape and Danganronpa respectively, also intrigue me.
Why I get so head-over-heels for these kinds of projects has always eluded me.
Until one of them passed away. Then it clicked.
I don’t know Fahmi personally. I never had the luxury to meet him at a Con or anything like that. To be brutally honest with myself, I have only known of him since January of this year. It’s totally bizarre to be so impacted by his passing.
But it all makes sense when I acknowledge that these are the ones who I see as my mentors.
Above nearly every title that I’ve been given, aside from maybe father and husband, the truest part of me that feels like ‘me’ is my creativity. I am wholly, completely a ‘Creative.’ I have chosen to bear the responsibility of husband and father - and I’m honored by those titles. But the title Creative is one I was born into. Molded by it, as Bane might say.
In everything that I do, it all comes back to my creativity and how I can use it. It’s a desperate need that I must pursue in every vocation, hobby, or menial task.
Whether this is also true for Barone, Fahmi, Kodaka, or Uchikoshi, who can say? But they are who I see as shining examples of creative passions made manifest by the virality of Internet culture. They are the mythic figures put upon a pedestal that I strive for but secretly hope to never achieve. They have become a goal, a model for me to look to.
So, when a mythic figure passes away at the young age of 32, what do you do? How do you respond? How else can you respond? It’s grief for the loss of an idol. For the loss of an example.
But it’s even more than that - I am grieving for what could have been. What would have been. What was to come.
But not for the one who passed.
It’s a selfish feeling for myself and my own creativity. What am I not doing? What am I putting off by my own humanity that I should be pursuing to the fullest extent? None of us know the day or time - so we must push forward and do what is right for the time being.
More than anything, this has made me consider what it means for a Creative to die. What do we leave behind? I know where I stand with my faith and with my understanding of the afterlife. But what role does creativity play in that?
I’m not sure yet, to be honest. I think of Rich Mullins, the Christian musician who died in a tragic road accident. What was left of him? I believe he knew God and Jesus and went on to the Church Triumphant. But what of his creativity? It stayed with us. To be enjoyed and shared. To continue speaking truth to life.
That’s what comes to mind when I see the image below that the Coffee Talk team created to honor the passing of Mohammad Fahmi. The most we could ever ask as Creatives is that our creation might honor our death and continue our creativity into the future like a progeny.
It’s something I plan to consider for quite some time ahead. But for now, rest in peace Fahmi. Enjoy your ride on the train to what’s next.
March 29th, 2022