FFXVI controversy exposes racism in how Americans view RPGs

FFXVI controversy exposes racism in how Americans view RPGs

An armored warrior stared in panic.

screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

I had one hell of a weekend. after me I published my article on me Final Fantasy Producer Naoki Yoshida’s misleading comments about the overwhelming whiteness of the next game have fans completely out of their minds. Surely, I saw the usual insults and insults. But those were not the comments that stuck in my mind. What bothered me was the (apparently) well-meaning people who told me that Japanese creators can’t understand racial differences. Or that we should not expect East Asian developers to be sympathetic to black and black representation. I rolled my eyes hard, and ended up writing a blog about it.

When I write about wanting Japanese games to be less socially embarrassing, there is always a backlash. People accuse me of projecting Western ideas onto an Asian country. But Japanese pop culture is already starting to deal with real-life themes of racism. One of the main characters in the manga whitening (2001) A Mexican-Japanese Boy Who Was Bullied For Being “Different”. The protagonist in an action RPG Yakuza 3 (2009) He realizes that one of his adopted children is Racism towards another child For being half black, he teaches her not to judge people based on skin color. Race is an important topic for any artist who wants to represent the full range of human experiences, regardless of whether they are American or Japanese.

and even developers FFXVI Very sensitive to ethnic and cultural differences outside Japan. For example, for developers deliberately chosen To use only European voice actors in their English dubbing. They also chose to have these actors use very luxurious British accents, which just very small percentage of the British population already have. A massive publisher like Square Enix is ​​fully capable of using non-Japanese talent to improve cultural accuracy. She simply chose not to allocate resources to making some of her characters a race other than “white Europeans”. So I’m once again asking weirdo geeks not to pretend Square Enix is ​​an indie developer in a guy’s vault. It is a multinational company that wants to sell copies of the game to a gaming audience that includes black and brown people.

Nor was I simply criticizing some of the newcomers to Japanese game development. Naoki Yoshida is the lead creative producer for one of the world’s most popular video game franchises. His job is to keep up with popular cultural and media trends. Ethnic diversity is definitely one of them. Hollywood is slowly discovering that a fairer choice leads to it better office box performance. (The The New York Times She says that Hollywood lose 10 billion dollars a year By slowing down in diversity.) If we are trying to measure the technical achievement of a prestige game, then inclusiveness must be evaluated seriously as we might consider “technical” elements such as graphics, cinematography, or responsive controls. It is humiliating to put the blockbuster Asian Games on a completely different level. Furthermore, it is incredibly embarrassing to say that Asian creators cannot develop media literacy around racism. Yoshida himself said in change the fan In an interview he did with Racism in America and Europe, which is more than I can say about white creative leaders who lead projects involving non-white characters.

The backlash against the demands for inclusion is interesting when it comes from JRPG fans. I read a strong defensive tone – that JRPGs are as good as they are, and don’t need to stick to Western standards. As someone who grew up playing them, I understood where that feeling comes from. Just a decade ago, an independent Canadian developer felt bold enough to announce it publicly Tell a Japanese developer at a conference “[Japanese games] Just sucking. “The crowd Laughter. “I’m sorry, you just need to keep up with the times.” The developer who targeted the comment was a programmer for it Final Fantasy XIII. a month later, my box published Blog which defended JRPG games from repeated claims that the genre was “archaic” or “archaic”.

In the face of unfair criticism of RPGs, it can be tempting to defend the genre reflexively. I’m definitely guilty of it in the past. But it is no longer necessary. Jinshin effect It is the most popular open world game in the world. Square Enix is Spread Both new JRPGs and remakes of old titles for the Western market. 77 percent of Persona 5 sales were from overseas. Since JRPGs are hitting record sales, the defense instinct of these games seems to me more than that. Jinshin effect will survive criticism on how they represent the peoples of Southwest Asia. FFXVI It would sell millions of copies no matter how poorly represented at launch.

But I don’t actually believe the arguments that we simply can’t expect Japanese developers to necessarily understand race and racism in good faith. The “Japan is simply different” excuse seems to extend to all other forms of persecution as well. When someone criticizes how women or gay people are represented in Japanese media (hello, Character fandom), I see some aggressive rebuttal about how Japan doesn’t understand feminism or LGBTQ rights. If sentiment is off, I check the profile only to find that the commenter is American. How predictable.

Here’s why: white conservatives too aghast They are losing control of the popular media. They are looking for their own utopia – a place that excludes women and minorities. For some white people, Japan is seen as Forever unchanging, compatible and traditional A society where marginalized people know their place. It is clear that countries do not work that way. But the player is burning Wants Japan to be a safe place from all SJW nonsense. No matter what’s good for RPGs as a literary genre or what’s actually good for business.

I’m excited that East Asian Games can finally gain Western recognition for art and innovation. But I also want the American public to be able to take their weaknesses seriously, too. Are Japanese creators making mistakes in ethnic inclusion? definitely. This is part of being any manager, regardless of nationality. But they should be expected to try. Expecting these games to be well represented isn’t ignorance – it’s a sign that we’re finally taking Japanese games seriously.

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