Cyberpunk 2077: A 'warning' about future

BBC | Published: 12:21 PM Dec 11 2020
Entertainment Cyberpunk 2077:  A 'warning' about future

When Mike Pondsmith was writing the first Cyberpunk game back in the 1980s, he didn't think he'd predict as much of the future as he has.

"From cyberware to instant communications and massive corporate control, we've got it all now," he says.

"The only thing we don't have is flying cars, which is really what I was hoping for.

"But we do have an awful lot of Cyberpunk stuff going on in the real world and that's why I think the genre is popular again today."

Mike's been a key part of the team that's turned the world he created for role-playing games all those years ago into one of the most anticipated video game releases in years.

He says he's been "pretty involved" from the beginning of the project, and his main role has been to keep it in line with the gritty realism of his original vision.

"It's very easy for a world like this to drift into pure science fiction, and you don't want that to happen.

"Cyberpunk is a dystopian future, that's about five minutes from our own current existence.

"The technology is a couple steps higher, and so forth, but in this particular universe, technology is not good for people.

"Pollution is rampant, crime is rampant and social and economic inequality is just accepted."

This dark setting is somewhere players have escaped to live out adventures since the first version was released in 1988.

Originally a role-playing game, like Dungeons and Dragons, set in 2020, the new video game version is based in the year 2077.

Made by the people behind the award-winning series of The Witcher games, the story sees players live in the criminal underworld, where everything from limbs to eyes can be customised and upgraded with technology.

One of the most eagerly anticipated titles in recent years, Cyberpunk 2077 has been a hit with reviewers.

However, the game's release has been impacted by complaints of in-game bugs and errors.

Charity Epilepsy Action called for changes to be made after one review flagged concerns that sections of the game can trigger photo sensitive epilepsy.

CD Projekt Red, the developers, say they're working on fixing that issue and have installed a warning for players.

We spoke to Mike before these concerns were raised.

He told us he created a world that is somewhere fun to interact with, explore and live out dramatic stories - but it should be seen as a "warning, not an aspiration".

"We shouldn't be hoping to get to this," he explains.

"At some point, you'll look down at your character's hands and say 'wow, my hands are metal all the way up to my elbows? Well, that's kind of creepy, it feels kind of wrong'.

"It is set up, so that you utilize the technology and you live in the world, but you should be having flashes of insight that this is really kind of weird."

In particular, Mike is concerned about the power of big companies and the rise of inequality across the world - both major themes in his games.

"I thought by that time we got to 2020, we would have got some cyberware, but also a little common sense with it too, which we haven't.

"I feel like we are running out of time and we need to start getting our act together or we could let these things actually happen to us.

"You don't get a better future unless you sit down and organise to get that better future.

"I am optimistic though, I see signs that people actually are pulling it together."

BBC | Published: 12:21 PM Dec 11 2020

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