A hot potato: JRPG, or Japanese role-playing game, is a common term that usually describes the many RPGs made in the country or, in some cases, those of 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 a number of media publications as part of the game’s pre-launch promotional campaign. One of these was Skill-Up, which asked Yoshida how he felt JRPGs had advanced in comparison to action games.
The interviewer noted that Yoshida didn’t appear happy at the mention of the term JRPG. “One thing [Yoshida] wants to get across is that when we create games, we don’t go into them thinking we are creating JRPGs, we are just creating RPGs. The term JRPG is used by western media rather than users and media in Japan,” explained localization director Koji Online News 72h.
Yoshida went on to say that when the term JRPG first appeared around 15 years ago, some developers felt it was discriminatory, and that they were being made fun of for creating their games. He said that for some devs, JRPG could be something that might trigger bad feelings because of what it was associated with in the past.
“It wasn’t a compliment to a lot of developers in Japan. We understand that recently, JRPG has better connotations and it’s being used as a positive but we still remember the time when it was used as a negative,” he said.
Yoshida added that he remembered seeing something 15 years ago that named Final Fantasy VII as the perfect example of a JRPG. It’s not something he liked as it “compartmentalizing what we were creating into a JRPG box.”
The comments have generated a lot of discourse online, unsurprisingly. Some agree with Yoshida’s statements while others argue that JRPG was never intended as a pejorative.
The interview has also reignited debate over some controversial comments Yoshida made about the lack of diversity in Final Fantasy XVI. In November, the producer said adding more black people or people of color to the game would be a violation of narrative boundaries, as the fantasy world of Valisthea was based on medieval Europe.
Skill-Up’s question was related to early previews of Final Fantasy XVI, many of which highlight its move away from turn-based combat and more toward all-out action and big cinematic battles – there have been comparisons to God of War and Devil May Cry. Yoshida says this is because fewer gamers want slower gameplay, and JRPGs are now “niche.”