The JRPG debate

This is the latest entry in 16 Bit Gems, which I watch on RetrowareTV, features a brief segment about three minutes long wherein the host Roo, discusses the term JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game). Gotta say that on a personal level I find playing 16-bit JRPGs now, a task devoid of any entertainment, probably due to attention span division over the years. Even modern JRPGs seem like failed attempts at fitting classic molds that are beyond obsolete. After the 80-hour hallway that was FF13, I've considered renaming the genre JKRPG, as in "Just Kidding, this isn't a Role Playing Game", but mainly because you don't get to play a role, as much as you do watch people react to dramatic pauses in regards to a story you've no connection with. But yeah, semantics! Glad to see some Baldur's Gate footage! Dungeons and Dragons REPRESENT! 



So the video has sparked some debate (that was already taking place in the VG community) as to the nature of the term JRPG. To think that if Roo would have called Lufia 2 a JRPG, without trying to extrapolate what that entails, then the comment section would have looked way differently. The moment that stirred up the proverbial bee's nest was when he tried to explain the modern parlance of "JRPG", to a game that used the moniker when it WASN'T so controversial a thing to say. Not saying this absolved him from saying some weird things. I didn't really notice him say "generally, but not always" as being one of those phrases that was pretty funny once I noticed it.

However, the term JRPG made more sense in the 90s, during the 8 and 16 bit era, which is why Lufia 2 is considered a JRPG. Don't really see anything wrong with that. Back then, anime was becoming as popular amongst the underground nerd culture as video games from Japan were, because they both shared aesthetic and storytelling choices that were new and fresh and unheard of for western audiences. Today, such anime characteristics (big eyes, fat tits, overused dramatic pauses, androgynous character design, predestined teenage saviors of the world, friendship bonds, etc) are so common place in video games that the eastern and western audiences/developers have been exposed enough to incorporate elements from either side of the pond.

After some research and serious thought, I gotta admit that the term JRPG as it is used today by mainstream media IS pretty racist. It reinforces the binary idea, of what something is by claiming what it isn't, that good games and bad games can be partially defined by their topographical point of origins. Racist? Yes. Lazy journalism? Definitely. Is Roo an idiot? I'd like to think not (based solely on his knowledge of editing software anyway [insert joke here]). LEVITY REPRESENT! Do Japanese gamers call our games WRPGS?
Do retro gamers call people who only play PS3/XBOX360 future gamers?
Do people who play Wii laugh at everyone else for not using motion controls? Just kidding, nobody plays Wii. <3

I need to express my fondness for western rpgs over jrpgs because they made me feel more like I actually played a role. After some re-examination (and watching rpgfanatics video response) it IS true that when compared to Dungeons and Dragons, no video game truly lets you play a role, as much as it does allow you to have a multiple choice behavioral quiz during a choose-your-own-adventure story. RPG's are just coloring books that you fill in as you play, some just offer you more crayons than others. As always I'll be looking forward to the next entry in this series. Thanks for letting taking the time to hang out!

No comments: