Responding to some recent previews of the game, the feminist media critic and internet enemy number one has volunteered to consult with CD Projekt Red and other studios “to make the great games you’re envisioning while appealing to a broader audience”. Dial your Drama-O-Meters to 11.
Impressions of Cyberpunk 2077’s new E3 demo have been, depending on your sources, kind of mixed. Some people love it, some people don’t love it so much, and other people are in between. Because it’s a game, and because people have different opinions about games, and because this is how things work – as such, this includes concerns about sexism. Also, racism and other questionably questionable content, obviously, but for the purposes of MY OPINION ABOUT THIS THING, I’m going to focus on the sexism.
But first, context. Cyberpunk 2077 is, you know, a cyberpunk game. And as a genre, cyberpunk is more or less defined by its sleazy, dystopian, corporate-controlled version of the future, with prevailing themes about politics, culture, social division, censorship, neon aesthetics, and whatever. It’s supposed to be provocative and uncomfortable. But how much is too much? That also depends on your sources, I suppose, because even if we’re not technically living in a sleazy, dystopian, corporate-controlled present (maybe), a lot of the internet’s citizens get their opinions prescribed by other people’s opinions. That’s a discussion for some other time, perhaps.
In the meantime, though, Cyberpunk 2077 is now the subject of This Week’s Internet Controversy because of those concerns about sexism, and Anita Sarkeesian suggesting that these are problems “we all know [CD Project Red] struggled with in the past”. Gasp, etc.
Hey @CDPROJEKTRED, I’m always available for consulting cause it sure sounds like you might need it before the whole of the internet drags you for what sounds like some potentially sexist representations… which we all know you’ve struggled with in the past 😬 https://t.co/MZmcUDhLR0
Besides the quoted excerpt from Polygon, this is also presumably a reference to the studio’s 2018 Twitter “joke” about assuming gender, although The Witcher series has also been trashed for its casual misogyny – but whether or not that’s because it’s “authentic” medieval-fantasy misogyny is also a discussion for some other time. Let’s talk about Cyberpunk 2077 instead.
So, is this game sexist? I dunno, because I haven’t played it, but I won’t pretend that featuring female nudity “BECAUSE TRANSHUMANISM” isn’t a somewhat flimsy pretext. Does Cyberpunk 2077 also feature male nudity? And even if it does, is it still exploitative? And, more fundamentally, can a game feature nudity and not be exploitative?
And so, studio like CD Projekt Red should be asking an expert. Not because the Forced Diversity Agenda wants to delete boobs, but because games are for everybody and “forced diversity” is made-up propaganda for white nerdbros who duzn’t wanna share their He-Man toys, anyway. I think the real issue here is actually finding the expert, and… I’m not convinced it’s Anita Sarkeesian.
Which is sort of awkward because I’m also a feminist, but the thing about feminists is that we’re not a hivemind, and – much like everybody and everything else, though it’s an irony unrecognised by the Anti-Forced Diversity Agenda – have diverse opinions about stuff. Without getting stuck in the what and why, my opinions about games and her opinions about games are not exactly the same. And I want Cyberpunk 2077 to be provocative and uncomfortable, but I also know that it’s a subtle distinction between this and sexism (and racism, and and and). And I want games to feature nudity, and politics, and culture, and social division, and censorship, and neon aesthetics, and whatever, but not at the cheap expense of the player’s dignity. Of my dignity.
It’s 2019 and women, gay people, non-binary and trans people, black people, and other minorities are pushing back against the establishment. That’s totally cyberpunk, and pushing back against stereotypes and shitty representation is totally cyberpunk too. Games can be so much more than “just a game, omg”, and it doesn’t only count when it’s the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death (but that counts too). You want games to be art? Art is a reflection of reality. And reality is diversity. So let’s get it right, okay? Okay.