Cyberpunk Creator Says “It’s All Political”
It might not be all that surprising but Cyberpunk, the pen & paper RPG Cyberpunk 2077 is based on is very political. It's creator, Mike Pondsmith, doesn't hide that at all, saying "inherently it's always political". Considering Pondsmith is working with CD Projekt RED on the video game, it sounds like the RPG could deal with some challenging subjects.
"It's not politics in terms of right or left, or even conservative versus liberal... everything is political," Pondsmith explained in an interview with VGC. "Human beings are political. First we got food, then we got prostitution, then we got politics. And we might have gotten politics before prostitution, but I'm not sure."
The issues that Cyberpunk is particularly focused on is "the disparities of power and how technology readdresses that," Pondsmith said. The world of Cyberpunk is full of people grafting technology onto themselves to give them an edge. That can mean physical abilities but also the ability to connect to the net, and all the information and community that comes with that. How can you hope to get the best deal for an item when you're not even able to access the online market?
Pondsmith uses a real-world example of how technology has acted as a leveller in his life. "When I started my paper game business in the 80s, we had to go and get stuff printed and we had to go to specific areas to have films made," Pondsmith said. It cost us a lot of money and the people doing it set our timetables, how much we paid... we had very little control.
"Within two years my art director, who was also an engineer, had redesigned personal scanners to be better than the ones we used to go to and we could now do all of that stuff in-house. Benjamin Franklin once said the printing press belongs to those who own one. Well, I owned one."
Pondsmith sees recent technologies continuing that process. "YouTube is a leveller in many ways, because I don't have to go to some network to get a TV show made," said. "Flash was a leveller: I didn't have to go somewhere and get a toy license to get an animation made. Suddenly I can do radical, interesting and heavily political things because technology is my enabler."
This is very much a theme in the Deus Ex games, too. There's a diary you can come across in Human Revolution of someone who took out a loan from a gang to get the technology that would help them keep up with the stock market - a business that had been taken over by people willing to augment their brains to manage trades faster. The person had to get into debt with bad people to compete and eventually they came to collect. The person didn't have the money and the gang tore the tech from their head. It's a fascinating little insight into the implications of futuretech and I hope we see stories like it in Cyberpunk 2077.
Featured Image Credit: CD Projekt RED