A hot potato: JRPG, or Japanese role-playing game, is a common term that usually describes many RPGs made in the country or, in some cases, in a similar style. But Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida, aka Yoshi-P, isn’t a big fan of the term, which he felt was discriminatory when he first heard it.
With the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XVI arriving on June 22, Yoshida has been giving interviews to several media publications as part of the game’s pre-launch promotional campaign. One of these is Skill-Up, which asks Yoshida how he feels JRPGs are progressing compared to action games.
The interviewer noted that Yoshida was not happy to mention the term JRPG. “One thing [Yoshida] Want to get across so when we make games, we don’t go into it thinking we’re creating JRPGs, we’re just creating RPGs. The term JRPG is used by western media rather than Japanese users and media,” localization director Koji Fox explained.
Yoshida went on to say that when the term JRPG first appeared about 15 years ago, some developers felt that it was discrimination, and that they were ridiculed for making their games. He said that for some devs, JRPG can be something that can cause bad feelings because of what it is associated with in the past.
“It was not a compliment to many developers in Japan. We understand that recently, JRPG has better connotations and it is used as a positive but we still remember the time when it was used as a negative,” he said.
Yoshida added that he remembers seeing something 15 years ago that named Final Fantasy VII as the perfect example of a JRPG. It’s not something he likes because it’s “sharing what we’re doing in a JRPG box.”
The comments generated a lot of discourse online, not surprisingly. Some agreed with Yoshida’s statements while others argued that JRPG was never intended as a pejorative.
The interview also reignites the debate over some controversial comments Yoshida made about the lack of diversity in Final Fantasy XVI. In November, the producer said that adding more black people or people of color to the game would be a violation of narrative boundaries, because the fantasy world of Valisthea is based on medieval Europe.
The Skill-Up question relates to early previews of Final Fantasy XVI, many of which emphasized its move away from turn-based combat and more towards all-out action and big cinematic battles – there comparisons to God of War and Devil May Cry . Yoshida says this is because fewer gamers want slower gameplay, and JRPGs are now “niche.”