Cyberpunk 2077 Is The Latest Front In The Culture War.

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  • 08/21/2022

Cyberpunk 2077 is deeply problematic. It’s transphobic. It’s racist. It’s sexist. It’s everything that social justice activists use to claim no small amount of relevance in the video game industry.

Game journalists "speak their truth" about why video games offend their neo-Puritan sensibilities.

Every time a blockbuster gaming title is announced, the voices of activists can be heard—not just peripherally, but taking center stage to voice their complaints. They’re “speaking their truth” about why it offends their neo-Puritan sensibilities.

Sometimes, the excitement of the gaming crowd itself is what they take issue with.

In the case of Cyberpunk 2077, the game’s developers at CD Projekt Red riled up the woke brigade with the inclusion of an in-game advertisement. Depicting a woman in a promotion for a fictional energy drink called ChromantiCore, the ad features a visible bulge in her crotch.

The ad’s slogan reads, “Mix it up.”

[caption id="attachment_178730" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Cyberpunk 2077 'Mix it up!' - "Transphobic" ChromantiCore Ad Cyberpunk 2077 Screenshot[/caption]

Claims that the developers were “creepily fetishizing trans women” were quickly addressed. Speaking to Polygon, the artist responsible, Kasia Redesiuk, said that the intent of the in-game ad – like others present in Cyberpunk 2077 – was to emphasize how corporations objectify human bodies to sell products.

“People in the ads of Cyberpunk 2077 are horribly objectified, but that’s very much intentionally so.” - CD Projekt Red

The game’s setting includes transgender people as a minor, but significant demographic, to whom corporations market to.

“People in the ads of Cyberpunk 2077 are horribly objectified, but that’s very much intentionally so,” said senior level designer Miles Tost.

“Since this is a dystopian exaggeration of how things will develop, so [are] our ads — we have some really terrible ads that you look at in the game and go ‘Ah, this place is pretty f*cked.’ It’s supposed to really get this reaction out of you.”

Regardless of the explanation, the commercial raised the ire of transgender activists on social media who already put the company on notice for its apparent adherence to the gender binary of offering only male and female character options. They drew upon the studio’s apparent history with transphobia.

[caption id="attachment_178728" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Overlook Cyberpunk 2077 Screenshot[/caption]

In 2018, the studio posted a tweet that some considered mocked the trans community.

None of their efforts have sufficed for the social justice activist whose lifeblood is outrage.

“Did you just assume their gender?” wrote the studio’s official Twitter account in response to a fan who said they wanted to see more content from the “guys” (developers) making the game. CD Projekt Red later apologized, but it wasn’t enough.

Cyberpunk 2077’s developers since revealed it may offer more options for character customization in the final game.

None of their efforts have sufficed for the social justice activist whose lifeblood is outrage.

It’s not the first time the woke brigade aimed its guns at Cyberpunk 2077.

The company courted controversy with a teaser trailer in 2013 depicting a half-naked woman sitting in the rain as a SWAT team aim their guns at her. Feminists attacked the game over claims of sexual objectification.

It continues to be a matter of no small contention from some of Cyberpunk 2077’s loudest detractors, including prominent gaming feminist Zoe Quinn, who once brought her complaints about “cyber violence” in video games to the United Nations.

These complaints were amplified by a gaming press hostile to unwoke members of the game industry. More interested in virtue signaling than covering the games on behalf of the audience, games journalists have written numerous screeds complaining about Cyberpunk 2077’s “transphobic” affronts to human dignity.

[caption id="attachment_178726" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Cyberpunk 2077 Voodoo Boys Cyberpunk 2077 Screenshot[/caption]

Cyberpunk 2077’s problems don’t end there. Rock Paper Shotgun lobbed accusations of “racism” at the game for its inclusion of two gangs: muscles-for-hire called the Animals; and the Voodoo Boys, a collective of Creole-speaking Haitian immigrants.

"I’m also increasingly concerned about Cyberpunk’s handling of non-white cultures." - Rock Paper Shotgun

In the alternate future religion and culture are key elements of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City setting.

“I feel increasingly uncomfortable that we’re shooting at predominantly black people labelled as animals,” wrote RPS’ Matt Cox, who incorrectly assumes that the player’s only option is to fight them. Unlike other games, CD Projekt Red boasts that Cyberpunk 2077 can be played through in its entirety as a pacifist. Murder is optional.

The studio also stated it isn’t intentional for the Animals to represent any specific race.

“I’m also increasingly concerned about Cyberpunk’s handling of non-white cultures. Last year’s Gamescom demo drew criticism for its clumsy and inauthentic presentation of a Latino character, and I’m not convinced the Voodoo Boys are a step in the right direction,” Cox continued. He raised his concerns with the developers, arguing that he was worried they “weren’t treating certain cultures with enough respect.”

Rock Paper Shotgun wasn’t alone in its assessment. Vox subsidiary The Verge shared their take pointing out the game’s “troubling racial undertones” with the Voodoo Boys.

[caption id="attachment_178727" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Mike Pondsmith, Cyberpunk 2020 Creator Mike Pondsmith[/caption]

Certainly, it isn’t the job of any journalist to serve as an extension of a company’s PR department. However, the gaming press does its readers a disservice when it manufactures outrage against a popular piece of entertainment. This time they went after the wrong man.

"I am really tired of well meaning people on internet chat boards telling me what I, as a black person, should be offended by." - Mike Pondsmith

Posting on Reddit, franchise creator Mike Pondsmith expressed his anger with the controversies surrounding the game.

“Want to say this just once. I am really tired of well meaning people on internet chat boards telling me what I, as a black person, should be offended by,” he said. “You want to be my ally? Go gird up your loins and at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, have the nerve to tell your racist Uncle Bob to STFU for a change.”

He likewise put his foot down on game journalists’ complaints and fended off accusations that he wasn’t heavily involved.

“If I wasn’t heavily involved, I would be able to get more done. As it is, I barely have a life,” he wrote. “As for the Animals – the whole freaking point is that they think of themselves as powerful, dangerous, wild animals. You’d have thought the lady named ‘Sasquatch’ would have given them a clue.”

“The original Voodoo Boys were a scathing commentary on cultural appropriation,” he added. “I love the idea that real practitioners of Voudon moved in and took back their turf. And they even got the Creole right!”

Indeed, Haitian gamers expressed their excitement at being represented in Cyberpunk 2077.

Like so many others in the gaming community, they are captivated by Cyberpunk 2077’s gritty, futuristic setting. They aren’t thinking of how it could possibly be racist, sexist, or indeed – transphobic. Instead, they want to immerse themselves in a world where Keanu Reeves walks the streets as Johnny Silverhand, a Rockerboy and anti-establishment hero.

Excitement for Cyberpunk 2077 landed it in the crosshairs of woke crusaders who are always looking for another front to do battle in the culture war. Unfortunately for them, gamers have other plans.

Ian Miles Cheong is the managing editor of Human Events