Excerpt: “How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors”
In 2019, I had the opportunity to connect with several people who are part of a new generation of SFF authors that grew up captivated not only by science fiction and fantasy novels, but by Japanese RPGs during the genre’s 16- and 32-bit golden era like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI.
Below is an excerpt from this piece, and a link to read the whole thing.
When I think back to my childhood and teenage years, when my literary tastes were being forged in the crucible of youthful emotion and impressionism, particular scenes come to life: Sam carrying Frodo up Mt. Doom. The Reaper chasing Wil Ohmsford through the Westland. Marle hugging Crono on top of Death Peak.
Most fantasy readers won’t need a reminder of what books the first two scenes come from (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks), and most Kotaku readers won’t miss the reference to the classic Japanese role-playing game Chrono Trigger. And for some, all three of those works are of equal importance. Today’s fantasy novelists are just as likely to have been inspired by JRPGs as they are J.R.R. Tolkien. For some authors, Celes’ performance at the Opera House is just as much of a storytelling touchstone as young Simon fleeing Pryrates beneath the Hayholt.
Scott Lynch’s experience growing up with Japanese console RPGs “absolutely” influenced his later writing, he said. “Most specifically, the grandeur and atmosphere the Final Fantasy games evoked through their blending of magic with technology, and via their use of Yoshitaka Amano’s art and Nobuo Uematsu’s music.”
Lynch, 41, is one of fantasy’s most popular authors, with sales of over half a million copies of his 2006 book The Lies of Locke Lamora. What many of his fans might not know is that Lynch plucked the name for his titular character from Final Fantasy VI’s famous thief — err — treasure hunter, Locke Cole.
Scott Lynch is not the only popular fantasy author who has taken inspiration from Japanese role-playing games. Several contemporary writers I spoke with for this story told me that the JRPGs of the 1990s played a huge part of their adolescence and have influenced their work for over 20 years, including Tamsyn Muir, Max Gladstone, and Peng Shepherd.
Read more: “How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors” on Kotaku.