‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Devs Want To Include Transgender Character Options
Cyberpunk 2077's quest director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz has confirmed that CD Projekt RED is building the game's character creator to allow the creation of transgender and non-binary characters. This news comes after substantial backlash online against the game for including a transphobic advert in a promotional asset.
While Cyberpunk 2077 might have been the talk of E3, it's not just because Keanu Reeves will be starring as one of the game's main characters. A screenshot released earlier this week to show off the game's ray tracing featured an in-game advert for a soft drink called ChroManticore. The ad has been called transphobic because it is emblazoned with lines such as "Mix it up" and "16 flavours you'd love to mix", over a picture of a female-presenting model with a noticeable erection underneath their clothing.
The problem with the ad is that it fetishises trans people. The ad reduces trans people to something that people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth (cisgender) might want to have sex with, simply as an exotic activity. The trans person becomes an exotic object.
The artist who created the image, Kasia Redesiuk, says that the image is born from the time period the game is set in. "In [the year] 2077, especially with how much body modifications are available, I think people just mix and match however they want, however they feel," Redesiuk told Polygon. "And even society is more open to different kinds of relationships."
But with that acceptance of different kinds of relationships, comes exploitation from corporations. "This model is used - their beautiful body is used - for corporate reasons," Redesiuk explains. "They are displayed there just as a thing, and that's the terrible part of it. [...] This is all to show that [much like in our modern world], hypersexualization in advertisements is just terrible. It was a conscious choice on our end to show that in this world - a world where you are a cyberpunk, a person fighting against corporations. That [advertisement] is what you're fighting against."
However, people offended by the image may not want to give CD Projekt RED the benefit of the doubt on this, as the studio's official Twitter account shared a transphobic joke last year. The Daily Dot has collected together further examples of transphobia by GOG and CD Projekt RED.
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In an interview with Gamasutra, Tomaszkiewicz said CD Projekt RED is working "to give players as many options of customisation in the beginning of the game as we can" and that the team won't limit features to specific genders.
"We want to do this thing where, as you create your character, after you choose the body type, you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman. [...] The idea is to mix all of those up, to give them to the players, as they would like to build it. Same goes for the voice. We wanted to separate this out, so the players can choose it freely. This is something we are still working on, it's not as easy as it sounds."
CD Projekt RED hasn't properly shown off the character creator yet (it sounds as though it hasn't finished making it yet, either), but hopefully it will be as full-featured and sensitive as Tomaszkiewicz says.
Featured Image Credit: CD Projekt RED