Naoki Yoshida defends lack of diversity in ‘Final Fantasy 16’

“The story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality”

Final Fantasy 16 director Naoki Yoshida has defended the lack of diversity in the game.

Last month, a new trailer was shared for the upcoming Final Fantasy game, with some players noting that a majority of the characters featured were white and male.

Speaking to IGN, Yoshida defended the lack of diversity in the game, explaining that “the story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality”.

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He went on to say that he was expecting to have to defend the game because “diversity in entertainment media has become a much-discussed topic as of late.”

Yoshida then explained that Final Fantasy 16 is based on medieval Europe with game designers looking to create a story that was limited to “a single landmass –  one geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world in an age without airplanes, television, or telephones”.

“Due to the underlying geographical, technological, and geopolitical constraints of this setting, Valisthea was never going to realistically be as diverse as say a modern-day Earth or even Final Fantasy 14 (which) has an entire planet’s worth of nations, races, and cultures at its disposal,” he said.

Yoshida continued: “We simply want the focus to be less on the outward appearance of our characters and more on who they are as people – people who are complex and diverse in their natures, backgrounds, beliefs, personalities, and motivations. People whose stories we can resonate with. There is diversity in Valisthea. Diversity that, while not all-encompassing, is synergistic with the setting we’ve created and is true to the inspirations from which we are drawing.”

“Ultimately, we felt that while incorporating ethnic diversity into Valisthea was important, an over-incorporation into this single corner of a much larger world could end up causing a violation of those narrative boundaries we originally set for ourselves. The story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality.”

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Final Fantasy 16
Final Fantasy 16. Credit: Square Enix

Elsewhere in the interview, Yoshida said that “it can be challenging to assign distinctive ethnicities to either antagonist or protagonist without triggering audience preconceptions, inviting unwarranted speculation, and ultimately stoking flames of controversy.”

Earlier this year, Yoshida confirmed that Final Fantasy 16 won’t be a fully open-world title. The game will release summer 2023 on the PlayStation 5.

In other news, a “notable” number of Destiny 2 players on PlayStation 5 are unwittingly playing the wrong version of the game, according to Bungie.

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