Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida aka Yoshi-P revealed in a recent interview that he and other developers in Japan didn’t like the popular term JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) when it first popped up years ago, thinking it was “discriminatory” or being used to “make fun of” Japanese developers working on games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
As part of a big media blitz for the next mainline Final Fantasy entry, FF16, Yoshida spoke to multiple outlets and journalists about the upcoming game. (Part of this campaign included a new gameplay demo that folks were able to play and share their thoughts on. You can read our round-up of all those previews over here.) But during all these interviews, Yoshi-P must have heard the term JRPG thrown around a lot, and specifically during a conversation with Skill-Up, the famed producer shared his thoughts on the term and how he has complicated feelings about it.
During the interview with Skill-Up, Yoshida was asked about the current state of JRPGs vs western RPGs, and according to the interviewer, the producer clearly didn’t like the phrasing of the question. After a long answer from Yoshida, his translator explained:
“The thing that [Yoshida] wants to get across is that when we are creating games, at least with our team, we don’t go into them thinking that we’re going to be creating JRPGs, we just go into them thinking we’re going to create RPGs.”
Yoshida’s history with the term JRPG
Skill-Up pushed a bit more, and Yoshida explained in more detail how he and other developers in Japan didn’t like the term when it first started popping up online more and more around 15 years ago or so.
“For us as developers [in Japan], the first time we heard it, it was like a discriminatory term,” explained Yoshida. “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.”
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Further, Yoshida remembered a media report or article from the past that defined what a JRPG was and essentially pointed toward Final Fantasy VII as a great example of one. Yoshida didn’t like this and said it was “compartmentalizing what we were creating into a JRPG box.”
These comments from Yoshida are even more interesting when you take into account his response to those who have criticized the upcoming FF16 for not being diverse and inclusive enough.
Some fans rallied around the game and claimed that JRPGs didn’t need to change, which fellow Kotaku staff writer Sisi Jiang noted felt very defensive. However, while many fans seem determined to protect JRPGs and keep them from changing, it seems Yoshida and other devs who actually work on these games don’t even think about these games in the same way and aren’t even happy about the term or all the rules and baggage that comes with it.
Final Fantasy XVI will be available on the PlayStation 5 on June 22.