Pet Hates

Excuse me if I’m being utterly dumb (knowing me, this could well be the case), but I have encountered something that totally confuses me.

For me, a game genre sums up the main game play elements. Are you going to grind away and level up? Punch people? Command an army? Soil myself with fear, and so on. So with that in mind, I have a pet hate for “JRPG”. For anyone who has not encountered the term yet, this means Japanese Role Playing Game.

Why do the Japanese get their own special genre? Do they even use this genre themselves?

If an RPG is made in the UK, and translated to Japanese, does it become a JRPG once it’s been produced for that country? (You’re all going to say “no”, but hear me out), the game, after all, has become Japanese – it’s probably been translated and altered by people from the country, the cover art is likely to get its own special makeover designed to appeal to them, and if there’s a script involved it could be read by Japanese voice actors.

FFX: The American voice actors make it feel so... \

FFX: The American voice actors made it feel so… Japanese

I don’t mean to be anal (although I accept that’s exactly what I am being), but what’s the point in specifically labelling a games’ genre ‘Japanese’ when you are playing the game in English? How does it become any different to play, for an English person, compared to playing an RPG that was developed in America? Everything that was Japanese has been interpreted and changed so that the player can understand it.

I’m not going to play an RPG, and later discover it is a JRPG and go “Oh, it was made in JAPAN. Now it all makes sense!”, or read a review, see the genre of the game in question is a JRPG, not an RPG, and think, “Oh, a JRPG. That does/doesn’t interest me. If only it was an RPG then it would/wouldn’t.”

No-one labels an American shooter “AFPS”, a British RTS “BRTS” or “UKRTS”. Does anyone genuinely choose to ignore or purchase a game purely due to the country it was developed in? (If so, doesn’t that make you a little racist?)

Surely in any case if you are psyched about a game, you’re interested in what’s in the game, not where it was made.

To further this pointless argument, if you took a studio in Japan, that was full of Japanese employees, and placed them in America in a bubble, would the game they’re working on no longer merit a “J” in the genre? And what’s wrong with simply using this layout:

Genre: RPG

Country of origin: Japan

Is it really that awkward to type four extra words? If I’ve missed something obvious or useful about classifying a game’s genre by its country of origin please let me know, and label my stupidity. Or tell me about your own pet hates within video games. (Wooden crate, anyone?)







10 responses to “Pet Hates”

  1. chobe avatar

    It’s a categorisation of the storytelling and gameplay style. I don’t particularly like its usage, but Western and Japanese RPGs do tend to be very different.

  2. Tony avatar

    Luckily for me, this issue has never come up.

    But that’s because the only RPGs I have the slightest interest in in the gaming world are Rocket Propelled Grenades…

  3. Kat avatar

    I’m pretty sure it has to do with chobe’s observation, there. It’s not so much that anyone particularly cares if it’s got an added “J” or not, it’s just a quick way of identifying a specific type of storytelling.

    Although you’re right, classifying them as “RPGs that originated in Japan” makes just as much sense, we do live in an age where anything that can be abbreviated will be.

  4. Kirsten avatar

    I don’t think RPG that originated in Japan does make as much sense. It’s not so much to do with where it came from as there is a school of talented developers who have all amongst them worked for a bunch of Japanese developement houses and they make a particular style of RPG. If an RPG was made by a different group of developers from a different school of thought and they made it mimicking the style the Square, triAce, Level 5 set we’d describe the game as being in a JRPG style.

    There are various art styles like for example the group called the Glasgow Girls. There aren’t all from Glasgow but that’s where they studied and their style is very obviously Glasgow Girls style and is therefor described as that. Sam thing.

  5. Ben avatar

    What about the elaborate hair styles? Surely that’s a very important part when defining a game a JRPG?

    Personally I always think of it in one way: Lots of random battles, crazy hair an elaborate storyline I can be pretty sure I’m playing a JRPG.

    When it’s from a western developer, usually the characters are slightly less “fancy” and the story is more often than not a lot more straight forward.

  6. Laura avatar

    I can’t really comment on the JRPG thing cause I’ve never ever played one, I know that makes me a bad person and I shall rot in gamer hell forever but they are just a bit too pretty for me.

    I do think that FPS’s made in America should be cleary labled as AFPS though, some people are allergic to too much cheese 🙂

  7. Kirsten avatar

    I think JRP’s are more than funny hair and random battles. There’s are long held traditions crafted by a select few developers over 20 years of particular battle systems and complex gameplay mechanics that are entirely absent from western RPG’s. These are the tenets of JRPG development. Interestingly it’s questioned now whether they are still relevant or have stagnated but they are the building blocks of this style of the genre and when they occasionally try something different it tends not to work.

  8. Michael avatar

    JRPGs: (typified by FF, though not exclusive to that series) – random battles, sometimes funny-haired guy (with blue/red/other hair) as hero who is slightly stupid/mad/whiny, comedy sidekick at some point, treasure chests, sidequests, funny-haired evil guy (with blue/red/other hair), save the world story, beautifully rendered cutscenes.

    WRPGs (see Fable, KOTOR, Morrowind): open-ended structure, slightly customisable hero/heroine (possibly option for funny-haired character), good or evil alignment.

    JRPG is not exclusive to Japan though; as I understand it, it is an umbrella term for RPGs made in Asia… so it could be ARPG but for the fact that is the acronym for action role-playing games. OK?

  9. Emily avatar

    I agree AFPS might be useful, an early warning that the game will contain some: HELL YES MUTHAFUCKA COLE TRAIN SMOOTH RIDE BABY YEAH!!

  10. agpe avatar

    Country of origin in this case is eponymous, not descriptive.

    If a Western company were to develop a roleplaying game with a linear plot characterized by longish cutscenes or ticker dialog, gameplay based on battles rather than exploration, character development heavy on arithmetic stats and equipment, and a conventional ensemble cast (hero, brute, boffin, etc.) — it’d have developed a JRPG.

Leave a Reply