Naoki Yoshida, the producer of the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI and shepherd of revitalised MMO Final Fantasy XIV, is not the biggest fan of the term JRPG, as it turns out. JRPG is a term a lot of us in the West throw around quite flippantly and, as fans, endlessly argue over exactly what constitutes a true Japanese role-playing game. It's used as a shorthand to describe a specific style of game design that originated in that country in the late 80s, reached a golden age in the 90s, and was instrumental to the success of PlayStation as a platform.
In an interview with YouTuber Skill Up, who travelled to Japan to speak to the senior development team, Yoshida was asked how JRPGs have advanced compared to action games. According to the interviewer, Yoshida was visibly uncomfortable with the phrase.
Localisation director Koji Fox explained that "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".
We are certainly guilty of relying on the term ourselves at times and had never really questioned its usage before, considering it just another neutral descriptive acronym along the lines of MMO.
Yoshida goes on to say (as translated by Fox) that some Japanese developers don't like the term, explaining that "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."
Continuing, Yoshida states that "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."
With Final Fantasy XVI competing against other AAA heavyweights like Hogwarts Legacy and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, it seems that some developers don't want to be pigeon-holed with a label that, in some cases, is used as a pejorative. Yoshida explains that the term has negative connotations, "that it's turn-based, that it's anime like, these teenagers saving the world, 'very JRPG'".
Considering how ubiquitous the term has become in the industry, it remains to be seen whether its usage will change in the future, but Yoshida has certainly sparked debate with his comments. What do you think of the term JRPG, and can you appreciate Yoshida's sentiment regarding it? Come up with a decent alternative in the comments section below.
[source youtu.be, via eurogamer.net]
It is sort of an antiquated term, but it's also very a traditional term in the west to describe what is essentially a turn based RPG.
FFXVI is an action RPG for sure, so I can completely see how labeling it a JRPG would cause confusing in marketing, or even be a slight to the art itself. A Turn Based Role Playing Game, JRPG, whatever, is not what they're making, and it's not really what Naoki Yoshida's team is known for either.
I agree, it doesn't compliment the work on the game. It doesn't do it justice.
Yeah i can imagine a Japanese Dev or player doesn't think of these games as JRPG's but as RPG's, it would be like i suppose them calling Mass Effect or Skyrim a "WRPG". Its very much a Western term but to be fair to us there is a massive difference between how Bioware or Bethesda make an RPG compared to how Atlus or SE make them, its a simple term and largely explains to someone in the west what the game is more or less.
Odd that he thinks “turn based” is a negative connotation…
I can’t think of a time when I associated JRPG with teens or anime. That’s what Weeb games is for. JRPG, in my opinion, always stood for very epic story driven RPGs with heavy emphasis on character development and… yes, turn based.
It was necessary to distinguish them from the terribly boring and yanky western RPGs, that were terrible (sorry Ultima fans, those games sucked.)
He should be glad his regional RPG flavor is not called “Eurojank”
I never really thought of it as an term that would cause offence. The "jrpg" monicker has always highlighted those rpg's that are usually the best in the genre and those i'm going to get the most return for my cash. Oh well another descriptive term for the cancel culture to sink their fangs into i guess..
This conversation really needed to happen, as Yoshida is perfectly right: the term is very often used in a reductive way that mostly highlights the limits and self constraints of those trying to explain to all of us what a JRPG is, what Final Fantasy etc, bordering on being slightly racist on occasions.
In one interesting bit of the interview, not directly reported here, he said that basically a JRPG in the West is expected to be “something like (the original) Final Fantasy VII” and how limiting that is.
I really didn’t know it was considered a slur amongst the Japanese gaming community. JRPGs are my favourite genre, ever since I was a kid. Playing them on early Nintendo systems, then having FF7 really make me what I would consider a “gamer”. It’s sad that others used it as a negative but I can kind of understand why that would become the case. Oldschool fanbros who consider the stylise anime graphics in many of them to be “childish” I guess.
If I had to choose between dull brown western RPGs (which, let’s be honest, are usually as generic in either their Tolkien fantasy or sci-fi settings) and characterful, colourful JRPGs I always have and always will pick the latter.
Which is why I’m kind of disappointed in the drab art style of FFXVI.
Interesting to get this perspective on the word though. Although I think he does ignore all of us who have always used it as a positive. Also, be proud of the influence Japan had on the medium! It’s not like we have such a thing as a British RPG.
It's like calling an at release buggy but in the long term genius RPG a PRPG… looking at you cdpr 😘
It's just such a weird take to view it as a pejorative. It's simply a term along with wrpg, crpg, and arpg that developed to categorize very different subgenres of the RPG genre, as Japan was making RPGs that were of a design unique to Japan, and square and enix games were the most famous examples. There's a certain insecurity to assuming it to be a pejorative when it's merely a category for something that is easily recognizable as unique.
If he needs clarification, Pokemon is a jrpg. His game is not. One of these will make more money than the other. And it's not his. suddenly I suspect he'd like to be so "discriminated" against.
Calm down Yoshida... I pretty dislike CRPG, SRPG, Boomer Shooter and similar confusing labels, but world will still turn... and no one will care it is dehonesting for those games...
@NEStalgia Don’t think it’s a weird take at all, can understand where he’s coming from. When they developed the games, they thought they were developing RPGs. Then they hear that actually, their RPGs are not treated like other RPGs, they’re treated like their own thing, JRPGs. But from their perspective, they didn’t see why it should be treated differently. Anyone who has ever felt otherised will understand, when you think you’re just taking part with everyone but then someone picks you out to feel different. There’s no ill intent behind it and I don’t think he’s suggesting that people were discriminating against them, he’s basically explaining how the term initially felt otherising to developers. Perfectly reasonable take if you get their perspective.
@NEStalgia Jesus this is a really shallow take along with many of the comments above. So let me help clarify why your argument is overlooking the most import aspect.
So you attempted to downplay this guy's pain from the term when it originated for him and as he stated, many Japanese developers by comparing the label Jrpg to somethingike arpg, crpg, and wrpg (which is really only used to state it as seperste from Jrpg.
Now let's take away the rpg that means the same for all of these labels. We are left with computer, action, western, and Japanese. Do you see a stark difference here. Only one of those terms is labeling the type of rpg by ethnicity.
That one single one single fact alone. Makes his discomfort with the term valid. Not just because it's literally the Only rpgs that are identified not by type of rpg but instead by ethnicity; but also because the Japanese identifier is meant to suggest it contains certain stereotypes that he rightly cites.
Those above trying pretend on one hand it only meant turn based combat, yet then go on to say in other comment sections and this one that they enjoy the bright colorful characters, Yada, Yada, Yada that differentiate these games from western rpgs is you tiptoing around the stereotypes that the term Jrpg is meant to identify and the very thing he feels is offensive. Which absolutely is a great many things including anime like characters, concerning hyper sexualization of women depicted in childlike and/or demeaning ways, and so much more both fine, cringe, and honestly gross.
That being said to suggest EVERY game that comes from the east (as many cited as Jrpgs aren't even from japan), contains these tropes, is absolutely offensive especially when tied to the person's friggin ethnicity.
Not one single other ethnic group is used in an acronym label for a game type. Not one. It is offensive and I don't blame the dude for finally voicing it. At the very least the term should just be dropped in favor of actual descriptors such as tbrpg (turn-based) or cwarpg (cringe-worthy anime rpg), just as all the other examples you compared Jrpg are. But in reality why can't they all just be rpgs. Although that is muddied in some respect because most arpgs aren't really role playing games.
The snide comment about Pokémon versus his game and profits is pretty cringe and insensitive. Suggesting somehow he would gladly accept something he just openly said feels offensive, if the money was right...
What does it mean to me?
1, potentially turned based.
3, creepy art style, especially in terms of young girls.
If that’s your bag, then whatever I guess.
If those are perceived as negatives, drop some of those features.
I don’t see how he can think of it as discriminatory. It’s just a descriptive term for RPG’s made in Japan.
Gamers!! Love seeing Skillup get some much deserved exposure. He's one of the very best content creators out there 😁
they can flip and spin this anyway they want, but the problem is western styled RPGs from other Japanese developers (FromSoftware) are killing them and have been for awhile. So they are abandoning the formula they created to chase trends.
The more Yoshi P opens his mouth, the less i like him, and I don't like him much as it is because i'm not a final fantasy fourteen fan boy.
Most terms are antiquated, and outdated, but they serve a purpose, we understand them. E.g. I read more 'books' on my Kindle than I do on folded paper, bonded at the seam. I watch more 'Movies' at home on a TV, or portable device, rather than going to the 'movies' and most of them aren't shot on 'Film'. The next generation seem to watch more 'TV' on tablets and phones. etc.
Personally I don't have a problem with JRPG, though perhaps we could make that ERPG, (Eastern RPG) to differentiate from WRPG (Western RPG). Though the reality is many JRPG's don't originate in Japan, or the the East (which is a subjective direction anyway), anymore. Chained Echoes is made in Germany I believe, yet is a JRPG through and through... Probably best to get rid of all location based descriptors!
But sub-genres are still useful for FANS to quickly describe a game. E.g. Batman Arkham Asylum was, in part, a 'metroidvania' despite not being a 2D pixel art game. And most games now cross genres so we might describe it more fully as a "3D story-driven action-adventure with metroidvania elements".
However for DEVS I can understand them being frustrating. They don't want to have the Art they have worked on pigeon holed, not should they constrain their creativity by thinking within these shackles. When Yoshi-P sits down to make Final Fantasy ALL he should be asking is 'how do I make the best game possible', NOT 'how do I make Final Fantasy XVI a great JRPG'. The industry needs more outside the box thinking.
I love Japanese style rpgs but I also find them creepy af and very cringe. The writing in Japanese games is also quite pointless. Characters prattling on when they’ve said all they need to say, followed by a clenched fist and a ‘HMMMPH’.. kill me
Like I said on Time Extension I generally refer to RPGs as Turn-based and Action-based depending on the gameplay of course. However while I can see how he might see it as a bit annoying I don't think people use the term JRPG as a negative for the most part. (Well unless it's the dude bros that just think anything anime must be horny high school trash without actually trying an anime. They use it as an insult, and an incredibly naive one at that.)
Whenever I do use the term JRPG I'm generally referring to the the look/vibe of a game more than the gameplay. Japanese media in general has just always had a unique look/vibe compared to media from anywhere else. It's just the way it is.
I would suggest Japanese developers consider taking pride in how games that come from their country are so unique they got a sub genre named after them but it's up to them in the end. Genre definition has never been very simple and I doubt it ever will. Especially when just about every genre in games has RPG elements of some sort in them these days.
It's a fun discussion topic but I wouldn't take it too seriously. It's not worth getting offended for.
Regardless of the term, RPGs originated from Japan are pretty much a genre of their own. The term JRPG still makes sense as they are extremely Japanese and won't be enjoyed by people who aren't used to Japanese games. Same goes with Japanese animation, cinema, literature, food, etc. It doesn't mean it's good or bad, it's just specific and not to everyone's taste.
And what he says, not thinking about creating a JRPG, is like Indian not thinking about making Indian curry, or French people making French croissant/baguette/crêpe. But the country of origin is still useful to foreigners.
I guess if it's an RPG from Japan, calling it a JRPG is fine, same as you would call a Spanish film from Spain a Spanish Film!
But as a catchall, at a time when RPG's out of Japan have evolved and especially considering it might be used in a derogatory way, I agree its use should be reconsidered. It's like how the word Brit for someone from Britain is acceptable versus using the shortened version for someone from Pakistan, the connotation differs due to how it's been used in the past to cause offence, even if you're using it now with a different intent, you can't speak for the person on the receiving end. It's good that we are talking about this stuff anyway, while keeping it in perspective of course.
@KundaliniRising333 calling something by the name of where it originated is not necessary reductive or racist. Should American be offended by the use of American Football, is it still okay to say K-pop for Korean pop? It's only called that in other countries to make a distinction. Same with JRPGs, they were so different than what we had in the west that people felt like another term would be appropriate, since they were made in Japan it was only logical.
Final fantasy 16 is JrpgTTTbw
Japanese rpg that tries to be western
@Mikey856 Don't forget the classic overexaggerated panting when characters run. Love that one.
@KundaliniRising333 "Japanese cars" is offensive. "German engineering" is offensive. "Florida oranges" is offensive. "French wine" is offensive. "Canadian maple syrup" is offensive. "Italian cuisine" is offensive. "Swiss watch" is offensive. So much horrible otherization.
It takes a certain mindset to view a term separating something by a location of origin to its unique qualities that make it notable from that location as a negative and demand the generalization of it.
It's a subgenre descriptor that identifies a brand of RPGs that is uniquely notable, that originated in Japan. No more, no less. Trying to read more into that is navel gazing in the highest degree. Until the past few years it predominantly described turn-based/command-based RPGs that were character driven and narrative focused with a fixed trajectory, separating it from WRPGs that were comparatively story-thin and focused on player independence, often based on pen and paper game inspired combat systems, but with a result in lack of cohesion. Recently as both WRPG and JRPG have leaned into all becoming ARPGs, the terms have shifted a bit from the original genre descriptions, and incorporated more style and structure descriptors.
It's a term predominantly used by people who like and prefer the genre. You're applying those negative connotations to it because that negative view of it is your own personal view of it, and you're trying to project that onto everyone. Most discussion involving the word "JRPG" is by fans of JRPGs. Like JPop, Kpop, J-Drama, K-Drama, and every other term in media to describe a national style of a medium that is unique and predominantly used to describe a popular thing with a dedicated fandom of the style.
Originally Japanese studios set out to merely copy the RPG genre that existed from western devs. Along the way they ended up creating their own genre, by accident, as many creations are, and then other Japanese devs started copying that approach, and it became something of a national style, recognized by fans of the style. For many, many of us, we, indeed were fans of "RPG", but then found other "RPGs" that were nothing like the "RPGs" we knew, but couldn't quantify what was different about them in description. Eventually we discovered that the difference is that the RPGs we knew were a style of game that came only, or predominantly, from Japanese studios. And then continued to seek out those studios. And the terms JRPG and WRPG were born. CRPG and ARPG were terms that existed primarily among PC gamers to categorize, primarily D&D and D&D-like pen and paper systems based games usually with an isometric perspective from hack and slash games like Diablo. They didn't really exist among console gamers, and the "WRPG" largely didn't exist at all to console gamers until around the PS3 era when Bethesda and CDPR games started hitting console. Until then what we now call "WRPG" was something that mostly only existed on PC and was played with keyboard and mouse ("I for inventory, C for character page, S or B for Spells, or Book, etc.) They were just "RPG" in the PC world. "JRPGS" were mostly the only RPGs on consoles, so they were just "RPG"s as console players knew them. The distinction came about when both player groups were exposed to the other form of RPG around that time.
Do studios outside Japan now make games of that style? Yes. Do Japanese studios now also use the "Western" style, yes. Is Sakaguchi, the guy who created the FF series, and largely invented or co-invented the genre now based in the US? Yes. But the origins and style of the are associated with it's origins in Japan. In order to view that as a negative thing, you'd have to have a bias against the medium that perceives it as a negative thing. You do, which we've talked about before.
Now, as for Yoshida, he, himself, is personally saturated in Western games, is a fan predominantly of Western games, plays largely Western games, went abroad to Western studios to learn Western styles of making games before moving on to XIV. At least as far as his gaming views, he's a bit of a "westaphile" (a made up word just now to be the opposite of how some are "japanophiles.") His rejection of the "limits" of the definition of "Japanese" RPGs is going to be somewhat rooted in that he's not particularly a of of the "JRPG" genre itself. And is primarily a fan of MMOs (his involvement in DQ11 was motivated in part by a desire to use its popularity to make the (western) MMO subgenre popular in Japan when it previously wasn't, not because he personally was fond of DQ itself.) Maybe for different reasons, you have a common perspective as himself, personally, as you're both viewing it as negative because it's a thing you dislike.
In both cases, it ignores that in the wider gaming discussion, it's a description of subgenre identifying it by it's place of origin, which is accurate, and predominantly used in discussion by people who specifically like it, usually in preference to other location's take on the genre.
You've identified that you agree with his take, but both of you still have a weird take, that's not consistent with the the language of the word, it's origins, and it's common use. His take is noteworthy because he's also being criticized specifically for taking a franchise synonymous with that genre and twisting it to become something else, and it's somewhat eye opening, to find that it's somewhat intentional beyond business reasons of making more money by catering to western tastes, and is in part due to his own personal biases of disliking the conceptualization of the subgenre FF is part of until now, itself.
Yoshi P is becoming one of my favorite people in this industry. I love any dude who gets weebs this salty.
@themightyant Final Fantasy XVI isn't a JRPG though; it's an open world action RPG. That's why Yoshida has an issue with the term, it mis-labels the game, and diminishes the work everyone on the project did by giving potential players the wrong idea. Like if you made something and it was labeled as something that didn't match your work, and moreover it was apparent that it didn't match your work, I imagine you'd take issue with that.
You also removed the part where I qualified my statement about how JRPG is an antiquated term; it's also a traditional term to mean an RPG that's primarily turn based.
@ApostateMage And yet… try and stop me buying FF16
Message received Yoshi P, I will try and stop using the term.
Though I'm sure it's going to confused my other friends who keep on using it lol.
I never realized the term JRPG was offensive to anyone. But I guess we should just assume in 2023 that SOMEONE will be offended by anything that you say. But I'm not going to stop using it, and no offense is ever meant. I don't think turn-based, anime style, or "teenagers saving the world" are negative things.
A game doesn't have to be made in Japan to be a JRPG. And an RPG made in Japan isn't necessarily a JPRG. Similarly, a restaurant owned by a Japanese person can serve Italian food and a restaurant owned by an Italian person can serve Japanese food.
This is actually sad (in the sense this is really pathetic). No alternative. No more police speeching. Jrpg sums it up just fine.
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