Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida has divulged further details into his vision for the game’s approach to diversity, revealing that its narrative and setting have been heavily influenced by a wide swath of cultural influences. Yoshida promised a vibrant world of varied and unique cultures, aiming to craft a story that resonates with an international audience.
Yoshida was asked to elaborate on his previous musings regarding the ethnic diversity of the cast of Final Fantasy 16, which – at least from initial sight – appears to be dominated by white characters. At an IGN roundtable discussion, he was invited to elucidate on his thoughts.
Yoshida cautioned that the query “requiring judiciousness in the selection of terms, expression, and subtlety,” before elucidating his point of view on the matter.
“It’s amazing the way people’s perspectives of ‘diversity’ can differ,” he remarked. “It’s not necessarily a wrong thing, but the interpretation of my response might be entirely different depending on each individual’s understanding. So, before I answer, I’d like to ask you to bear this in mind.”
“What I would like to take this opportunity to convey is: the invention of the realm of Valisthea and the narrative of Final Fantasy 16 has been attained through rigorous study of various philosophies, cultures and value systems from around the globe – all of which have been intertwined into the epic fantasy story and world with due respect and consideration. Therefore, I invite you to dive into the world of Final Fantasy 16 and witness the broad range of values we have assimilated in the development of the game. You will certainly discover something you relate to, and perhaps even find something where you cannot agree. I am confident that the players from all parts of the world will have an enjoyable time with the game, and get to appreciate its universal appeal and the overall experience.”
As part of a presentation displayed prior to the most recent hands-on exposition, the press were introduced to the several realms of the Valisthea world, each tailored to its own unique cultural ethos. Although so far, the people of these lands have seemingly been of European ancestry in appearance.
When IGN probed whether Black or POC characters would be present, Yoshida elucidated that “Due to the underlying geographical, technical, and geopolitical obstacles of this vista, Valisthea could never be as diverse as a contemporary Earth…or even Final Fantasy XIV that has a complete planet (and satellite) of realms, races, and cultures to draw upon.”
He went on to elucidate that Final Fantasy 16’s approach to diversity is not omnifarious, but is integral to its world’s constitution. “Ultimately,” he implored, “we ardently wish the attention to be reduced on the external appearance of our characters and amplify the emphasis on who they are as individuals — people who are intricate and sundry in their qualities, lineages, convictions, temperaments, and motives; people whose stories we can correlate with. There is a multifariousness in Valisthea. A multifariousness that, while not omnifarious, is harmonious with the milieu we have fashioned and is consonant with the motivations from which we are deriving.”
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Matt Purslow is the UK News and Features Editor for IGN – the one-stop shop for everything gaming-related.