FFXVI Producer Doesn’t Like the Term JRPG, Japanese Developers Considered It “Discriminatory”

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Image: Square Enix

JRPG is a term that has been used in gaming circles to describe Final Fantasy and other fan-favorite RPGs from Japan for what feels like forever, but it turns out that local developers weren’t the biggest fans of the label. Speaking to Skill Up in a new interview, Naoki Yoshida (“Yoshi-P”), who’s currently busy producing Final Fantasy XVI, mentioned that he and other Japanese developers hated the term when it first popped up, with some going so far as to describe it as “discriminatory.” While the term seemingly has better connotations now, Japanese devs who saw the word JRPG thought they were being made fun of, or having their efforts compartmentalized, according to Yoshida.

From a Skill Up feature:

One thing he 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.

“This is going to depend on who you ask but there was a time when this term first appeared 15 years ago, and for us as developers the first time we heard it, it was like a discriminatory term. As though we were being made fun of for creating these games, and so for some developers the term JRPG can be something that will maybe trigger bad feelings because of what it was 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.”

“l remembers seeing something 15 years ago which was basically a definition of what a JRPG was vs a western RPG, and its kind of like FFVII, and it has this type of graphics, this length of story, and compartmentalizing what we were creating into a JRPG box, and taking offence to that because that’s not how how were going into creating. We were going in to create an RPG, but to be compartmentalized, they felt was discriminatory.”

“Travelling around the world, speaking with fans and media about their image of the franchise, they would always give the same answer: that it’s turn based, that it’s anime like, these teenagers saving the world, ‘very JRPG’. This was the image for all FF. This was turning off some players because they thought it could only be that and that was a reason to not get into it. On top of that, you have a gen of new gamers who were raised on FPS and games like GTA where input is always direct. For those players, the thought of having to wait before you act is kind of a disconnect for that young generation. So with our goal to expand the series and broaden the audience, bring back players but also welcome new players, we realized we had to evolve the series and change it up from what people expected.”

“What I want is for players to say wow — that it blew them away. Wow can be perceived in different ways. Wow because of story, wow because of lots of crazy boss battles, wow because whoever made this must have been out of their minds. What we want is for players have that sense of wow. As for its place within the franchise, hopefully, through Final Fantasy WI, we can kind of regain that sense of the Final Fantasy series is a must buy. You must check this out. Something that we don’t have now, and we can return to the idea that when a Final Fantasy comes out, it’s something that we must play.”

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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