Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida has long been held up as a shining example of what can be expected of someone in those roles, but he’s having a bit of a bad day today. A new IGN interview with several of the team members behind the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI (which Yoshida is overseeing as a producer) involved a question about diversity in the game, and Yoshida answered with his characteristic depth… but not his usual understanding or inclusion, as demonstrated by this particular excerpt:
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.
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of medieval Europe, of course, knows that a multi-ethnic culture was common even then for a variety of reasons, even before taking into account the simple reality of things like Moorish Spain and the overland trade routes with China. Sharp observers will also no doubt be aware that discussing “grounding the game in reality” is something of an a priori absurd claim when you are discussing a video game that will feature moogles, cactuars, and enormous magical summons. And many of those observers are now on social media saying just that, as Yoshi-P has been trending all evening.
We would take the opportunity to note that Yoshida has a long history of celebrating diversity within the FFXIV community, which itself has a very strong LGBTQ community that has been embraced by the developers. The game also, as noted, makes an effort to be multicultural and inclusive. So it’s unclear where this particular poor answer came from, but we would be remiss not to note that it’s a poor take on an issue that plagues fantasy stories from multiple sources across the globe.