problem here isn’t the trans body. Its how the game depicts that body...
June 20, 2019 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Cyberpunk 2077's in-game context doesn't matter if its marketing contributes to transphobia right now [Rock Paper Shotgun] “During this week’s E3, Cyberpunk 2077 developers CD Projekt Red released a new CG trailer starring Keanu Reeves, showed the game to press behind closed doors, and handed out some new screenshots. Two screens in particular were released via Nvidia to show off ray tracing effects, and both seem innocuous enough. One depicts what looks like a science lab, the other a neon-lit stairwell, but a second glance at the latter will reveal something else. There are three adverts on the wall, the middle of which depicts a sexualised trans woman, her body objectified and fetishised to sell an energy drink [*NSFW*] for a fictitious in-world corporation. [...] The idea in isolation could work: there’s no reason you can’t depict trans women in a sexual manner. It’s just, as with any kind of sexualization, there’s a fine line between empowerment and objectification. It’s not at all apparent from the image itself that we are supposed to be disgusted by the exploitation. Instead, it looks like an image you’re supposed to laugh at, with trans people the victim of the joke.”

• Deeply transphobic ad in ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ represents everything wrong with cyberpunk [The Daily Dot]
“Even if the ad is supposed to depict a trans woman or a trans femme in good faith, it’s terribly inaccurate in a way that furthers harmful stereotypes already existing in our society. Many trans women cannot maintain erections thanks to hormone replacement therapy, while others can only become somewhat stiff for a short period of time without erectile dysfunction medication. Yet cis people generally assume trans women’s penises operate like cis men’s until proven otherwise. That stigma is only further reinforced by cis male-centric porn, which expects trans models to use their penises in a way that operates exactly like cis men’s dicks. In other words, the ad reflects cisgender peoples’ current conceptions of trans bodies, so for most cis players, the satire doesn’t land.”
• A conversation with the artist behind that Cyberpunk 2077 poster [Eurogamer]
“"I'm not surprised people have questions," Redesiuk told me. "I'm currently taking care of in-game media, so branding and advertisements for the various corporations. And in this dystopian future, these megacorporations are oppressive, they've basically taken over and prescribe who people live. They constantly, aggressively sell everything. "You'll notice many advertisements - for anything, a table, chair, a roof tile - slap a random sexy person on top and say 'hey, buy this'. This shows the sexploitation of those people, and many of our advertisements feature this sexualisation. We sexualise men, women, and people in between, all to show how terrible this is. "With our advertisements, we want to say something. For instance, there's an advert for a fashion shop with the Colosseum - this beautiful piece of architecture - which has been taken over and turned into a marketplace. It's art destroyed for consumerism's sake. We have more examples here [in Cyberpunk's E3 2019 booth]." [...] "We thought this would be a brand which would slap a body on the advert and think nothing of it. It's a terrible thing to say 'mix it up' [the poster's tagline]. We're emulating what a company would say in Cyberpunk 2077."”
• CD Projekt Red and associated CD Projekt entities like GOG have previously come under fire for social media faux-pas involving trans people. [Kotaku]
“Responding to a fan on Twitter earlier today, the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account referenced an internet meme mocking transgender people. “Did you just assume their gender,” the tweet said. The account was responding to a fan saying that they wanted more from the “guys” at Gamescom. CD Projekt Red is currently showing Cyberpunk 2077 at the event. While the tweet is not explicitly transphobic, the meme being referenced is largely used to belittle or demean the concerns of transgender people. Much like saying how you’ve decided to identify as an attack helicopter is a way to mock transgender folks, this phrase is meant to mock the supposedly fragile egos of “tumblrinas” and social justice warriors.”
• Cyberpunk’s transphobic tweet is part of a much larger issue with game marketing [Polygon]
“Think about what the “joke” actually says, though. This isn’t as simple as one group poking fun at how another group speaks. Rather, the phrase “assuming someone’s gender” has become a way to make fun of how one group imagines another group speaks. It doesn’t make any point aside from pointing out a stereotype that only existed in the heads of people who already didn’t like the groups being mocked. Has anyone, ever, actually laughed at this joke? Or has the meme just become so ingrained in online culture that people recognize it and repeat it without thought? [...] But this isn’t about one company, this is about why transphobic jokes upset people, and why the situation is bigger than each company that gets “in trouble” for sharing them. For transfolk on the internet — and especially in the gaming community — the sequence of events surrounding the CD Projekt Red controversy are much too familiar.”
posted by Fizz (49 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hmm. I sort of buy the artist Kasia Redesiuk's explanation. She sounds like she thought about it deeply, and made a conscious choice. A quote from the article that didn't make the pullquote:
"So yes, we have a person with both breasts and a penis on an advertisement, done on purpose, because it's terrible to exploit people's bodies like this," Redesiuk continues.
Unfortunately, that potential goodwill is immediately erased by Cyberpunk's transphobic AF garbage tweet as discussed in the FPP. I'm so fucking sick of that shit. It's the faux-cutsie umadbro style of trolling and it's fucking infantile and infuriating and transphobic AF. Gah.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:08 AM on June 20 [9 favorites]


Oh, Gaming, don’t ever change.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:11 AM on June 20 [13 favorites]


Interesting as well that apparently Cyberpunk 2077 is likely to feature trans / non-binary options in the character creation stage. That would be new...

I'm never going to play the game, but that is interesting.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:14 AM on June 20


Not that it really matters, but the tweet is from last year. But then again, it does matter. Because it shows this is something they're continuing to do and that they need to educate themselves, seek out and consult trans gamers, developers, voices, and listen to that community about why this shit matters. As GenjiandProust wrote up above, the entire industry needs to change. Blurgh.
posted by Fizz at 7:15 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Yeah, there's this thing where if you just narrow down the scope, narrow narrow narrow, until nothing stands except a flat read of the artist's stated intent when having it put to them: sure, that's a specific bit of critical/satirical commentary about commercialization and sexualization and exploitation. They were trying to say a thing, and whether you feel like they did so successfully, that's art. Set in a context where that narrow and careful scope of analysis was put front and center, in e.g. a group show about trans identity and sci-fi/speculative/dystopian art and largely featuring work by trans and trans-adjacent artists, the most natural thing in the world would be to take Redesiuk's piece and look at it in that kind of critical context, to assume good intent and an implicit mutual intent to unpack what's being said.

But that's so counter-factual to the real context that it's hard to feel like it's fair to spend more than a blip of energy on it. Because this is a commercial art asset in a game, presented in passing, from a company with a shitty track record specifically on this subject, in an industry that has likewise, for a general audience that includes lots folks who are explicitly hostile to and/or exoticizing of queer and trans identities.

I'm simultaneously willing to give Redesiuk the benefit of the doubt as far as the heart-of-hearts intent of their piece of art and uncomfortable narrowing down the question entirely to that point. It can end up excusing the larger, broader scope of problems involved by tying everything down to that one specific question.
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Cyberpunk creator and tabletop industry veteran Mike Pondsmith's reaction to the poster controversy from this interview:

I think some people are viewing it as potentially transphobic. I was wondering if Chromanticore was anything you'd had any input on?

No, and to be honest I hadn't ever really run across anybody directly here who's got that problem with transphobia, and it sure as hell isn't something that happens at Talsorian. We have trans staffers, I have an insanely large number of friends so for me it's kind of like... what was the issue? So... I don't know. The problem with this is often people come to things with their own interpretations and they may bring those interpretations with them when they examine anything in their world. This could be bad art, this could be a message. It depends on how you interpret it, that's why art is art. It's not, you know, specifically reportage, so consequently the problem with these sorts of situations is that if you approach things in a particular way, you may see things that nobody sees, you may see things that somebody should see, and one of the reasons we have a multilevel culture is because we can see it differently.

Not necessarily to say that's wrong or right but you know, when I look at that, I don't see it. I see, you know, eh, it's not a really good drawing of some woman who's got a coke and my immediate thought was, you know, it's a bad ad, but as far as I know it's supposed to be a bad ad, it's not supposed to be a good ad.You know somebody was hammering it out in a sweatshop somewhere for five dollars.

In the game.

In the game, yeah. I always figured. So I don't think of it that way and you know, when you mentioned it that would have been the first time I'd even heard of that. What I know is people have brought a lot of interpretations to what we're doing, positive and negative, and they're going to do that and that's sort of inherent not just in whatever we do but also in the nature of Cyberpunk. It's like people arguing about representation of various groups - I kind of look at it as well, you know when I represent people in Cyberpunk they're from every walk of life and every single place and I'm not exactly taking a timeclock to see who's there, I'm going to go, 'does this reflect the world that I see or that I think probably should be out there?' and particularly the world and street - that should be a very complex, very open world because the street doesn't have room to pick sides and differentiate.

posted by Pendragon at 7:44 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Classic privilege. Only my intent matters, not the impact. Art excuses art. People being sensitive to it are allowed their opinion/reaction but hell if that's going to change my artistic aesthetic. Generalizes to "I got mine!"

Gaming is such a trashfire (I speak here as a gamer, who likes the cyberpunk genre).
posted by kalessin at 7:58 AM on June 20 [30 favorites]


The problem with this is often people come to things with their own interpretations and they may bring those interpretations with them when they examine anything in their world. This could be bad art, this could be a message. It depends on how you interpret it, that's why art is art.

Gee, without proper context, it's difficult for people to do anything BUT to come to their own conclusions. Especially also considering that these marketing materials do not exist in a vacuum but come from a company with that particular history. With that in mind, you're past the point of "art is art", it cannot speak for itself.

I'm also having a hard time talking about the artist's/company's true intentions and whatnot. This just establishes them as the sole arbiter of what would be transphobic or not, because only they can know their true intentions.

(On preview: what kalessin said.)
posted by bigendian at 8:01 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I'm trans. Just because you have trans staffers doesn't mean your workplace is free of transphobia. I worked in marketing for 20+ years and wasn't empowered to speak up about transphobia for fear of losing my job.

The "you can play as a trans character" marketing doesn't sit well with me, either, as it implies a trans "look" and is incredibly Othering in this context. Compare to how Animal Crossing simply announced how body/face types aren't attached to gender anymore.

I just don't buy the "this is commentary on the exploitation of trans bodies" argument. It feels the same to me as SFF writers who constantly defend their use of rape tropes on the grounds it's "historically accurate".

My body is being exploited *now* and it's incredibly frustrating to be told this future imagined exploitation is something that's somehow progressive.
posted by Wossname at 8:02 AM on June 20 [28 favorites]


The "you can play as a trans character" marketing doesn't sit well with me, either, as it implies a trans "look" and is incredibly Othering in this context. Compare to how Animal Crossing simply announced how body/face types aren't attached to gender anymore.

^This

smoke bomb before I go on a bannable rant
posted by French Fry at 8:06 AM on June 20 [7 favorites]


Given CD Projekt's history of shitty tweets from their GOG service, I'm not inclined to give them any more money, ever.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:16 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I'm really worried about this game.

It's made by the same studio as Witcher 3, which is a very good game - but is also terrible for how it treats women. It's so ass backwards, not just from a political standpoint, but from an artistic standpoint; the eye candy feels jarringly out of place. I've said elsewhere that I don't think the game would have been reviewed so highly if reviews weren't dominated by straight men. For them, this kind of female objectification is so normal they're blind to it. For me, it undermines the artistic credibility of the whole game because it's just so juvenile. Sometimes I'm so embarrassed for them I have to turn off the game.

In the first trailer for Cyperpunk 77 and one of the first things that happens is fishing a perfect (but brutalized) nude female body out of a bathtub. Then later, we're treated to some camera angles that linger on the perfect body, perfect ass, and perfect sideboob of the female protagonist.

It is not surprising to me that they would be equally clueless and insensitive when it comes to trans representation. Their thinking seems to be stuck at "b-but it's realistic that [group] is exploited in the setting," unaware that that's a choice, and also, that even given that choice they have further choices in how to represent it. It's just excuses. They've shown that they don't really want to learn.

They had an ask session on Tumblr the other day, and I very nearly sent a question but thought, if they haven't learned yet, one more person isn't going to do it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:23 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake. A cis woman drawing a trans woman with an outline of her genitalia visible is no different than a man drawing a cis woman with her genitalia visible.
Trans rights and oppression isn't some nebulous, mysterious set of rules that is hard to follow. In fact, cis people treating it as such is not that fucking different than men acting like women are unknowable creatures from a different planet.
Treat people with respect and if you're not part of that group you can't use their experiences to make social commentary! For one, it won't be accurate, and for two, you dont have enough experience to make a judgement call on whether or not it's appropriate.
This truly feels like grade-school level social intelligence and I'm just so sick of cis people waxing poetic about their trouble navigating the waters of trans discourse.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:53 AM on June 20 [27 favorites]


OK, let’s, for a moment, assume purely good intent. We are not out of the woods yet. Say I am writing a story, or a game, or a movie, and I want a trans woman heroine. Maybe I have a villain, and she’s going to be all TERFy, because she’s a villain, and I want her to be all villainous towards my main character. So, I do some research and I fill her dialogue with all sorts of nasty stuff, so she’ll be really awful and gritty, and that will make her comeuppance that much better, right?

But my audience still has to wade through that garbage to get the story, and maybe some are on board, but maybe some aren’t, and maybe someone will get hurt. And maybe some people will find her dialogue funny and quotable. So, even with good intentions, I need to be careful, bring in some trans readers to check what’s ok, and accept that I may get bad reactions, and my intentions won’t matter. You don’t get to be edgy, then cry when you cut yourself.

I am sure a random jokey bit of art got workshopped a whole lot.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:55 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Also is there not one single trans person in the entirety of gaming journalism that can interview the artist or developer? No one? We're stuck with cis men???
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:58 AM on June 20 [12 favorites]


I'm really worried about this game.

Tangentially, when I found out Borderlands 3 had cast Chris Hardwick, I said NOPE. Unfortunately (for me) I love this franchise. It's full of problematic content and ideas (that's its point in a way) but I have to draw the line somewhere. That's where I drew mine. I think you can draw the line inconsistently. You can play or view problematic stuff (almost everything is problematic in some way). Especially for personal entertainment, the thing to consider is the fiscal impact of your purchases (voting with one's dollars), but I think most progressives (if that's your thing) tend to believe that things you do in the privacy of your own home are pretty much your business. Certainly we progressives have our own share of busybodies, but it seems a fairly consistent line. But I guess the thing I most likely ask is that we are mindful of the compromises and privilege we use/do to do this playing/viewing so it ameliorates subconscious bias in ourselves as we go through life after we're done playing the games.
posted by kalessin at 8:58 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


The "you can play as a trans character" marketing doesn't sit well with me, either, as it implies a trans "look" and is incredibly Othering in this context. Compare to how Animal Crossing simply announced how body/face types aren't attached to gender anymore.

From what I can tell, that is what they're proposing to do in Cyberbunk 2077 also, according to the first link: “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…”
posted by Pfardentrott at 9:09 AM on June 20


Assuming the best possible faith in all people involved, there is no possible way for them to make an in-game advertisement exploiting peoples' bodies for marketing without also making a game that exploits peoples' bodies itself. That ad meant to show how evil a corporation is, is literally being used as an advertisement for a real world company's product! Not to mention, the game is still also going to rely on using sexy characters in the game. Criticizing something while just also doing it anyway is a fucked approach.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:28 AM on June 20 [7 favorites]


The artist's statement literally has the "but I have trans friends" line in defense of why they aren't transphobic. Come on.
posted by Dysk at 10:06 AM on June 20 [12 favorites]


In the first trailer for Cyperpunk 77 and one of the first things that happens is fishing a perfect (but brutalized) nude female body out of a bathtub. Then later, we're treated to some camera angles that linger on the perfect body, perfect ass, and perfect sideboob of the female protagonist.

The original announcement trailer from six years ago was nothing but a half-nude cyborg woman being killed in a hail of gunfire. In loving slow motion, of course.

CDPR are very not good at this stuff.
posted by neckro23 at 10:13 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


"you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman"

This phrasing erases non-binary folks.

CDPR could have just pitched the character builder components as gender-free and the player then decides on their pronouns. But instead, it's this weird "mix and match" conceit, which is the same as used in the in-game ad. It belies a really transphobic way of thinking about trans bodies.

I don't buy that any meaningful homework has been done wrt trans inclusion in this game.
posted by Wossname at 10:32 AM on June 20 [8 favorites]


I hope they put Exotics in. I want to biosculpt a tail and some hooves that I can beat NPCs to death with.
posted by mrcircles at 11:19 AM on June 20


The "you can play as a trans character" marketing doesn't sit well with me, either

Can you point to said official marketing? NOT something reprinted and rephrased by someone on the web?

Compare to how Animal Crossing simply announced how body/face types aren't attached to gender anymore.

That's really all the CDPR has said so far.

"you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman"

This phrasing erases non-binary folks.


Could it not be as easily parsed as "use physical traits as you build your face that could be considered masculine or feminine" instead of "use either male or female physical traits"?
posted by CaseyB at 11:23 AM on June 20


CDPR are very not good at this stuff.

QFT.

One of the things that angers me is that they will likely face no real repercussions--that criticism of how they portray marginalized people will be a few voices shouting in the wilderness, and they will otherwise remain, how do you say... critically unscathed. I'm furious, I guess, at how gaming culture is so insular, so warped toward one particular point of view, that if the game is any good in other respects it will probably be praised as a masterpiece.

It's not that I'm offended on behalf of my artistic sensibilities, exactly. It's that this is emblematic of how they don't even see that the perspective is warped, they don't even see it as out of place. That's how it does nothing to undermine the artistic credibility of the game, to them. I hope that can change, but since it requires a lot of man children to grow the fuck up and see marginalized people as something other than eye candy, jokes, or props, it probably won't change very quickly.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:26 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]


One need look no further than the Whoreson Junior storyline in The Witcher 3 to understand how these guys filter their morality.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:29 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


There's an interview with the lead quest designer that goes into some detail.

Interviewer: How much do you deal with sexuality in 2077? As a European developer you’re likely to be a lot less puritanical about such things than an American company. They were implying last year that there is a lot of nudity in the game…

Lead Quest Designer: [laughs] Yes, a lot. But this is a game for mature players and the maturity is there in all kinds of ways, from the philosophical background of the game to the topics of the game, and also the sexuality is there as well. As a player you can pick the different body types for yourself, you can pick the different voice that you have. So you can… say you have a female voice but match it with a male body. And then you define how other characters perceive you. So basically, how they address you.

Interviewer: Do you mean pronouns?

Lead Quest Designer: It’s not exactly that but it gives you that effect. So you’re basically deciding how you define yourself. And in the game the romance and sexuality, it’s really present. Because we are sexual beings, that’s obvious.

Interviewer: It’s not obvious in games. There’s almost no sexuality in games.

Lead Quest Designer: We are CD Projekt, so it’s obvious to us. [laughs] Sexuality was very present in The Witcher games and I think here it’s even more present, but I think here we are a bit more mature because we are allowing the player to craft their own character a bit more. And also, in the customisation screen, if you want to have stronger female features on your male character you can do it. If you want to have male features on a female character you can do it. If you want to be a character that is less easy to define you can also do it. So it’s really up to the player as to what they want to do.
posted by mrcircles at 11:40 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I was looking forward to this game. Could they just not.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:42 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Could it not be as easily parsed as "use physical traits as you build your face that could be considered masculine or feminine" instead of "use either male or female physical traits"?

If that's what they'd wanted to say, maybe they should have said that. It isn't what they said though. I'm not sure it's much better anyway.
posted by Dysk at 12:04 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


Jesus, that designer just sounds clueless as fuck about, well, everything. It almost seems like they'd have been better off just sticking with the simplest solution of just letting the player define their own pronouns. Instead the normal engineers' disease kicked in and they went off on tangents about different "[physical] features" and "voices" without any thought or input from actual trans people, and then didn't allow the player to choose pronouns anyway. The allegedly clever and subversive ads are just further cluelessness.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:07 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


And everything in that developer explanation is offensively essentialist as fuck.
posted by Dysk at 12:09 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


“We are CD Projekt, so it’s obvious to us.”
We feel the same way about your ignorance.
posted by Fizz at 12:23 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


The "you can play as a trans character" marketing doesn't sit well with me, either

Can you point to said official marketing? NOT something reprinted and rephrased by someone on the web?


I didn't make the original comment, but: moving the goalposts much? You'll note that it does not say "official marketing" anywhere, like you've decided to request. Literally everything we know about the game at the moment is marketing. It hasn't been released. Interviews, information given to games press, developer and artist statements, press packs, it's all marketing, intended to cast the game in a positive light and sell copies. And one of the details they've decided to dedicate rather a lot of verbiage to is how they're tackling sexuality and gender, and how super cool they are for letting you design a character with respect to that. It has been a fairly prominent part of their marketing. Marketing is not just magazine adverts and promo pictures.
posted by Dysk at 12:28 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


There are some individuals involved who may not be ill-intentioned about it, but CDPR's leadership and marketing are now well past the point where I can go, they just don't know better. They know better. People have told them better about these and other social issues, again and again. They seem to have decided to gamble that this attention would wind up being a net positive to sales, and that they are good enough at making games that they will keep getting away with it. On this count, I think they're wrong, but they aren't incorrect. And that's what finally elevated me from sighing about it being tone-deaf to realizing I have to give this one a hard pass, and anything else they're involved with.
posted by Sequence at 12:30 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


They seem to have decided to gamble that this attention would wind up being a net positive to sales, and that they are good enough at making games that they will keep getting away with it.

And I guess that's the hill that some people will die on. Is the game good? Not, does the game cause harm? I know that gaming and gaming culture are filled with all kinds of toxic/predatory behavior. Knowing what I know about certain gaming publishes/developers/creators, it's now at that point where you have to decide with your dollars.

Your money supports and reinforces certain people, behaviours, politics. It's not like the old days when you could just not know and turn a blind eye. We're cursed with the knowledge of knowing so much about the industry and these creators because they've invited themselves into our homes.

We watch conventions and expos. We watch livestreams on YouTube, twitch, etc. We're all so connected and it can get complicated. Because you can like a game but hate the politics or its creators. You have to decide where you stand.

I really want to play this game because it looks slick as hell. But knowing what I know, how can I in good conscious support these developers and their beliefs. It would feel dirty.

*sighs*

I hate being a gamer with a soul.
posted by Fizz at 12:54 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


This reminds me of arguments over South Park. Throwaway character named Token is not satire if you still engaging in the same behavior while wearing your trope on your sleeve. Pointing out something is shitty while gleefully participating in the shittiness does not make you the hero.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:01 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


I hate being a gamer with a soul.

I... I... think there’s an app that will fix that. Very gameified.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:04 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


There's an interview with the lead quest designer that goes into some detail. . .
Sexuality was very present in The Witcher games


I should legally be allowed to slap any man that refers to misogynistic, violent, rape-oriented, torturous, content as "sexuality".
I'm at my wits end you guys.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:20 PM on June 20 [18 favorites]


The thing about satire is that if you aren't careful and thoughtful, you end up just promoting the thing you're trying to satirize.

And there's no evidence that CDPR has ever been careful and thoughtful in areas even close to this.

The bummer is the number of people I know that have just been happy to buy the BS "explanation" they offered up...
posted by evilangela at 1:23 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Intent doesn't matter, only impact matters. All of the conversation around this will have a tremendously negative impact. When you highlight profitable injustice and it increases profits you are part of the problem.
posted by poe at 1:33 PM on June 20


Could it not be as easily parsed as "use physical traits as you build your face that could be considered masculine or feminine" instead of "use either male or female physical traits"?

No. That continues to erase non-binary people and is still very cissexist to categorize physical traits as "masculine" or "feminine" to begin with. (For example, I know many trans and cis women who consider their beards as feminine traits, along with the rest of their bodies. And again, we need to be inclusive of nonbinary folks who have their own relationship with their bodies others don't get to define.)

CDPR and anyone else commenting on character gen could literally just say "none of the sliders or other physical traits are tied to gender". It's that simple and I'm so very, very tired of having to argue this point.
posted by Wossname at 1:45 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


Also:

"Sexuality was very present in The Witcher games and I think here it’s even more present, but I think here we are a bit more mature because we are allowing the player to craft their own character a bit more. And also, in the customisation screen, if you want to have stronger female features on your male character you can do it. If you want to have male features on a female character you can do it.

Before you think there's a bone being thrown here to nonbinary folks and thinking outside the M/F boxes, it is a telling sign that the entire process of creating a character who broadcasts to the cis eye as "trans" is being discussed for the topic of "sexuality". Gender ID != sexuality. This just comes off as fetishization.

It's like they found half a decent script for talking about gender and trans folks, but their winging it the rest of the way is really telling.
posted by Wossname at 2:02 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


No. That continues to erase non-binary people and is still very cissexist to categorize physical traits as "masculine" or "feminine" to begin with.

Not arguing just adding a different perspective - I am nonbinary and do not find the existence of the ideas of masculinity and femininity to be erasing. I don't think masculinity nor femininity is gender-specific. I do spend a good deal of time, as a lesbian, loving and interacting with butch history. Female masculinity is natural and good (and, frankly, attractive). I know women who consider their facial and body hair to be masculine. I am not of the opinion that everything a woman does or is has to be labeled as feminine, that to me is more essentialist than the existence of the masc/fem categories.

Would I, eventually,like all words and iterations of the body to be gender neutral? Of course. But i really, fundamentally disagree with the idea that masculinity and femininity are indicative of man and woman, respectively.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:06 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Sexuality was very present in The Witcher games

It sure was... You could even collect cards of your sexual conquests... Sort of like in a binder... full of women.... smh...
posted by Pendragon at 2:50 PM on June 20


I appreciate threads like this. I learn a lot from them. I'm a 48 year old cis/het guy from Chicago who has a trans friend in my weekly tabletop gaming group. In fact, she's the only trans person I've ever personally known. I'm new to a lot of these topics.

This game is going to be hugely popular. It's already hugely popular. It will be interesting to follow as it develops.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:51 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


In fact, she's the only trans person I've ever personally known.

Hey, pal. I know you mean well but this line of thinking is harmful. It works under the assumption that you think all people you've encountered have been comfortable enough to come out to you, and that you can "clock" trans people.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:26 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


i mean there is so much... else... going on here, but this bit:

As a European developer you’re likely to be a lot less puritanical about such things than an American company

just
sigh

gaming was a mistake
posted by halation at 7:21 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


It will be interesting to follow as it develops.

This seems a really off sentiment for a thread like this. It will not be interesting to follow this as it develops. This is not some fascinating drama you sit back and watch, bowl of popcorn in lap. Or rather, it certainly isn't for those of us who are more directly affected, for reasons spelled out in the thread. So it seems callous and tone deaf to them drop in to a thread full of people discussing the bigotry and prejudice on display and how it matters, how it isn't harmless, to just say "wow this is fun" as someone without skin in the game.
posted by Dysk at 12:52 AM on June 21 [8 favorites]


I find it kind of weird how much my queer friends were invested in this game long before details really started coming out. It's CDProjekt, a conservative Polish studio famous for three turgid games about being a Manly Man, why is anyone surprised when it makes huge missteps dealing with queer-favorite topics like body modification? Especially in what looks likely to be a typical City Mayhem Simulator, a genre with a long and storied history of violence against women.

I dunno, Saint's Row did queer approachability so much better. You wanna be a chubby, muscular lady with a man's voice? Okay fine, Volition didn't care if you were doing it for comedy or for a rare bit of representation of yourself. And nobody really anticipated new installments in that series until the last couple. But everyone is sitting here going over the trailers for Cyberpunk with a fine-toothed comb, looking for Gender Issues and Queer Content.

(Me: trans lady, probably not gonna bother getting this what with feeling done with big immersive fantasy world games.)
posted by egypturnash at 1:01 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I don't know that invested is the right word for my group of friends, but there was certainly a lot of interest. Part of it's the genre - cyberpunk, for whatever reason, has a lot of appeal.

But a big part of it is simply that it's a high profile project, put out by a studio whose last big project was critically acclaimed as one of the best open world games in recent years. I mean, I have my own opinion about how much of that acclaim was deserved, but it does contribute to the hype. When something is so hyped it's natural that people might be paying more attention.

None of us are surprised that the studio is pulling the same bullshit, but personally, I'm disappointed. I also feel like talking about being disappointed and angry is one way to shift the culture - well, that's optimistic, but it certainly do more than being quiet.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:25 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


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