Bethesda: Japanese RPGs “Not Realistic”


Fallout 3 and Oblivion maker Bethesda’s honcho Todd Howard has said Japanese RPGs are “not realistic” compared to western ones.

Todd Howard, executive producer at Bethesda, gave an interview in which he politely rubbished the Wii and 3DS as platforms unsuitable for Bethesda games, stated that Red Dead Redemption is “a great RPG,” and also weighed in on Japanese RPGs:

In terms of the RPG genre, you guys do a fantastic job and a lot of the western developers are leading that charge now; maybe Japan is a little weaker in that area.

Final Fantasy XIII is selling pretty well, but it seems whether it’s you or BioWare, or Peter Molyneux with the Fable series, there’s just a really strong western RPG presence.

Do have any thoughts on the state of the Japanese RPGs? Do you play them personally?

I don’t. I look at them. Artistically, I think they’re really, really good.

I’ve never been one to draw lines, though I think it’s easier in this case to say, “these are the western and these are the eastern ones.” I think, by and large, if you look at Japanese games, overall their mindset is way more fantastical, even if it’s not an RPG.

Personally for me, sometimes I like that and sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my hands around it. A western game… again I’m generalizing, they’re more realistic.

Even if it’s post-apocalyptic America Fallout, there’s this filter on it: well, this could really be happening. It’s got this somewhat of a suspension of disbelief, even when we do fantasy stuff.

If you compare the sci-fi in Mass Effect to the science fiction in a million Japanese games, it just gets really, really out there. I think the two sensibilities break down more like that.

Apparently he never played Morrowind.

Whilst being much more circumspect than other western developers, it does seem apparent Howard does not hold Japanese RPGs in great esteem.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    22:56 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Listen if you wRPG fegs want realism why don't you go outside?

    the whole point of a game is creating a fantasy universe where you can kick ass with awesome spells and cool weapons.

    not where the world blows up cuz some dood fucked up and your the only survivor and have to jerk off to the cover of a green peas ad.

    Avatar of BisayaBoi
    Comment by BisayaBoi
    22:51 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Strange statement from the the developer of the Elder Scroll series. A pure fantasy game.

    And Red Dead Redemption is not an RPG.
    It's just Grand Theft Horse and it's nothing more than that. Quite boring really.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:13 05/09/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sure kid...sure.

    Avatar of bronin357
    Comment by bronin357
    23:23 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Some of you mofos make me sick! The fact of the matter is jrpg's and wrpg's are different. They have their pros's and cons like any thing else. I play both and like the over the action sometimes afforded in jrpgs like ffxiii and tales of vesperia, but then I like the more realistic approach of weapons and monsters like fallout 3 and mass effect. I think anyone who can meld the two and bring a non emo/effeminate male character that isn't too "muscle bound" and have a great story with out a whole bunch men acting all sensitive and emo (ffxii I'm lookin at you!), then throw in guns, swords, over the top final techniques and bosses!

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:25 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't give a damn about realism,graphics and stuff. All that matters in the end is that game is interesting. I still sometimes find that FFIV is 10 times better than a title that cam out this year.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:19 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    LMAO. Really now.

    Avatar of Guumii
    Comment by Guumii
    23:25 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, at else he isn't bashing them and saying their bad unlike another western RPG company that we know of.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:39 04/09/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I thought it was your favourite pal, the honorable and professional crybaby "Phil Fish" who couldn't take shit when its flung back at him.

    "Whats good for the goose is good for the gander" don't they say?

    Avatar of BuNindza
    Comment by BuNindza
    22:32 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Escapism isn't always synonymous with a lack of realism (if ever, really). The point of fantasy is to supplant one reality with an alternative one. There's a reason that a lot of vg reviewers place heavy importance on a game's ability make a player get lost in its landscape. I prefer to think that this is especially true of RPGs.

    As far as the article goes, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Some of what he says, I agree with, while other portions I can chalk up to him being relatively ignorant (and lacking in memory) when it comes to a good number of western rpg's that are out there and highly acclaimed. A good number of things from the d20 universe, for instance.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:52 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well said by him....and no, JRPGs arent just for kids. Goto Akihabara, plenty of men.

    Nothing wrong with fantasy however...or realistic RPGs either. I have but one complaint, after going through several JRPGs, JPRGs are too linear.

    Thats all...who cares about fantasy vs realism...that personal preference.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:33 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why even compare? They're completely different genres... They shouldn't even be both called RPGs...

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:33 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    JRPGs = for 12-18 years old
    Western RPGs = 15+ years old

    Play them like that and you won't be able to complain which is better.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:53 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Red Dead Redemption is an RPG? I presume he's one of the guys who actually believes Fallout 3 is an RPG too?

    I think I now understand why the western developers are perceived to be doing better on the RPG front. They aren't innovating in their games, they're just creating the same old games and sticking the "RPG" label on them to make it sound a lot deeper. If you have a typical FPS, it doesn't really sound innovative when you market it as a "first-person shooter", but it certainly sounds innovative if you market it as a "role-playing game".

    They aren't doing anything inherrently different from what they've been doing before--They're just marketing their same old games as if they were of a different genre of gaming.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:21 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    HEY DIPSHIT! Let me define rpg real quick.
    A role-playing game (RPG) is a broad family of games in which players assume the roles of characters, or take control of one or more avatars, in a fictional setting. Actions taken within the game succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

    Just because you didn't like fallout because it wasn't filled with faggy jap shit doesn't mean that its not an rpg.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:24 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "I think, by and large, if you look at Japanese games, overall their mindset is way more fantastical, even if it’s not an RPG."

    "Personally for me, sometimes I like that and sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my hands around it. A western game… again I’m generalizing, they’re more realistic."

    and Artefact choose to summarize it into

    Bethesda: Japanese RPGs “Not Realistic” (for obvious intentions)


    Anyway what Beth said was infact pretty accurate, infact by n large if you look at Japanese (anime, manga, porn, tv, game shows and many more ), overall their mindset is more fantastical.

    Psychologically I will attribute that to the above mediums being escapes from their daily routine and way of life where sticking out like a sore thumb is something to be frowned upon

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:53 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    He has got a point, the Star Ocean characters look pretty strange and overly cutesee.

    I don't understand this weeboo aversion to muscle bound characters either. Theres nothing more stupid than a weak emo looking character carrying a hench sword.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:09 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Bethesda, gave an interview in which he politely rubbished the Wii and 3DS as platforms unsuitable for Bethesda games"

    I stopped taking this guy seriously around this point.:/

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:06 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think everyone here has completely misunderstood what he meant by "unrealistic".

    What the guy means is not that the WRPG scenario's can happen in real life (i.e. Morrowind), but that the choices you make in the game are reminiscent of what can really happen in real life. In the case of Dragon Age, despite it being in a fantasy setting, the people act like REAL people. The choices are like REAL choices. There isn't simply "Yes" or "No" answers like JRPG's (if there even is a choice).

    Role playing games are traditionally about having your own, original character who makes his own, original decisions. That is definitely not the case in JRPG's, but WRPG's are doing a much better job at it in recent years.

    I'll play JRPG's when I want a non-serious couple hours of fun by looking at the asses of some unrealistic fantasy babe. If I want real, emotionally gripping and impacting games, I'll look more for WRPG's.

    By saying realism isn't there isn't saying the game is bad. It's just saying that game has failed to be reminiscent of human society, becoming something which we cannot, as humans, sympathize with. WRPG's can be tear jerking, powerful and make you stop and think "Wow". JRPG's are just... mindless fun. There is a big difference.

    Note: When a JRPG kills off a main character (despite how rare that it) or has a sad ending, it doesn't make it more realistic or more tear jerking than a WRPG. Gratuitous character deaths are as worthless as gratuitous sex scenes. To make it truly meaningful, there needs to be a point. So don't try and make the Aeris argument.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:52 06/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I like you.

    I hate myself when I want everyone to live thus stopping Loghain's execution, Alistair has a fit and leaves. Later he becomes a drunk and roams around telling everyone how he was a "grey warden" and that.

    I hate myself when I go for an independent New Vegas and learn that without a central government, it will become chaos. Freedom always has its price I guess. ;_;

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:36 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You're all a bunch of faggots; staring at a men ass for 40 hours and carrying around a large phallic object.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:33 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    @Jeen "Whatever the hell happened to people who plays both JRPGs and WRPGs?"

    as someone who once loved both WRPGs and JRPGs let me tell you. I lost interest in WRPGs because of WRPG developers and their fans constantly acting like retards. No way in hell am I giving my money to faggot trolls like bethesda or Bioware

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:25 22/05/2015 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well said. FUCK WRPGs. They are trash. Shit and trash blended together with sewage and packed into a huge crate and sent to China, where it will explode.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:54 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Not realistic"? More like "Unreal". Is it good or bad, it's only a matter of taste.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:33 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    he sounds way to elist sitting on their high horses
    and read dead redepmtion a RPG srsly WTF?
    but anyway WRPG > JRPG > WRPG
    You know do the math!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:11 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bethesda is a fucking retard no rpg is realistic how can it be real if you are just assuming the role of the main character.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:32 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    fuck you Bethesda, i never played any of your shitty games

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:27 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    *walks up to peoples faces and steals their shit* its ok I have level 10 stealth.

    I killed 500 children but it's ok, I killed 10 rats so I have good morality.


    Comment by Anonymous
    15:23 27/02/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    dude really?


    cuz that's what he's talking about. that right there??

    10 minutes on the timeout freeway. take the rusty razor-phone, we'll call you when you can come bacl

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:03 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    From what I've seen, Japanese developers have never even attempted to make a 'realistic' game. They probably could if they wanted to, but that's the problem.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:59 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is just another ''culture clash'' like I had when I got into anime. After growing up in a Western society, watching Western film and reading Western books you have created a border of how far things can go fantasy wise. When you start watching anime you notice that sometimes things become very unrealistic. At first you can criticize this but in the longer period you notice that this ''unrealism'' is inherent to anime or Japanese entertainment in general. A good example will be Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan; A cowardly boy that drills holes underground will have to fight for the sake of the universe in a robot spanning a greater size than the galaxies. Unrealistic? To the Western society, yes. Bad? ...No Freakin Way.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:07 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think western rpgs are realistic either. Todd Howard is just a idiot trying to fuel some flame.

    Comment by Fgwar
    19:08 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Red Dead Redemption is considered a "great RPG"? I didn't even know it was an RPG in the first place, more of a open third person shooter adventure than an RPG. If he considers Red Dead Redemption as an RPG, he clearly does not know the definition of RPG in the first place, let alone video games. Please continue creating good games, but stfu until you get a good sense of what people want in games and what type they want, kthxbai.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:45 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Actually, he does. RPG isn about levels and experience. It should be more about living in a world making decisions, building character. I saw only a little bit of Red Dead Redemption, but even when you dont have anything resembling stats here, it can be considered RPG is you can build your character by interactions with other NPC. Calling it "great RPG" is surely wrong but it surely have a potencial to be good RPG.

    Comment by Fgwar
    20:13 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've played it, there is fairly little decision making in the first place, as it also has a laid out scenario you have to do to progress. The interactions with the certain people in question are merely optional sidequests and provide nothing. The main character(s) changes very little when you play the game (only implied in a sense through his retelling of his past, but even that doesn't land a good impact.), the main character only wants to look out for his family, but is totally okay with killing hundreds of people and destroying their families.

    The honor system in the game, which is pretty much a morale chart decides whether you are a "good guy" or a "bad guy", but is heavily forced upon you to be the good guy, or you'd have MAJOR difficulty (next to impossible if you like not being able to save peacefully, buy new guns & ammo, and not get shot at before you can get to the next required story marker) in progressing through the game, and even the negative morale doesn't change anything you'd experience if you were positive, instead.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:17 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ok, obviously just a souped up action ride. It would be interesting if you could make some radical decisions and take your own aproach to that game. I love wild west and there are so few games from it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:14 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who gives a fuck about realism, yes the atari and the sege genesis and the NES etc really kicked off big because of their awesomely realistic graphics. We play games to escape a drab reality and these fuckers want to put this unwanted shit in the game? Fuck off, I want fantasy I want characters with some actuall fucking unique designs and I want to be able to swing a solid steel sword 4 times my characters fucking size. The Majority of western RPGs have no variety in terms of colour scheme and character design, they're either massively over built or a skinny arsehole acting like a gangster, and of course the weapon of choice is allways a friggin gun.

    Avatar of Jun
    Comment by Jun
    19:11 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    it's a shame he hasn't at least tried to play some of them. i think the super nonrealistic sides of rpgs really appeal to massive amounts of people out there. just look at dragon quest. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN F***ING HOLIDAY!! hahaha. don't even get me started with pokemon lol

    Avatar of Pantsu_Rider
    Comment by Pantsu_Rider
    18:51 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I just see them like trolling each other....

    Avatar of Klingengeist
    Comment by Klingengeist
    18:41 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmm, i play rpgs because they are not realistic, actually most roleplayers do i think. To flee reality for a bit.
    But i dont like bunnyeared FF characters.^^

    Also dont think Oblivion, Dragon Age and Fable are more realistic in the sense of "it could happen". But they dont have flying cities or something like that.

    Avatar of TehBoringOne
    Comment by TehBoringOne
    18:51 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They have humanoid monsters, dragons and magic. In that order.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:50 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bethesda guys should shut up and concentrate in making a good Elder Scrolls V.
    Oblivion was a dissapointment, they must reedem themselves.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    20:27 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    it's just like me who haven't play any western rpg

    and saying western rpg is too realistic

    Avatar of coyote1250
    Comment by coyote1250
    20:25 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they can fuck themselves up with muscles and musle girls while Japs conquer the world with Moe\

    One thing to add is that Fallout and Obilivion relies on many many modders to make it look better, while the original character design is total orthopedic failure

    I like their stories , but goin over to comment the other side is stupid

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:58 06/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Elder Scrolls is a huge game though, its understandable that they couldn't have everything polished to perfection.

    I think Oblivion is a good example of how action RPG's are not inferior to traditional RPG's.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:22 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i hate muscled lips

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:54 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Stiffen up that upper lip, little lady!

    Comment by Fgwar
    20:55 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Derp, failure login is failure.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:38 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why do WRPG fags care so much about JRPGs?
    Who the fuck cares?
    What are you trying to prove? Don't fucking play jrpgs then.

    Avatar of Dia
    Comment by Dia
    20:45 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    In reality you need big muscles to carry those big guns.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:18 05/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    you want a realistic game? try getting a job paying minimum wage.

    I say fuck realism. I want my game to be full of shit that could never ever happen.

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