19 votes

Cyberpunk designer says CDPR is working on transgender character options

47 comments

  1. [43]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I think this is a very positive move. As I said in a previous thread, the rationalization provided by the artist for the hypersexualized transgender in-game advertisement seemed genuine to me....

    I think this is a very positive move.

    As I said in a previous thread, the rationalization provided by the artist for the hypersexualized transgender in-game advertisement seemed genuine to me.
    However, if the game's actual writing made no attempt to include trans people or only portrays them in this hypersexualized / fetishized fashion, then it would seem exploitative.

    Giving players more character and role play options only seems like a positive to me.

    15 votes
    1. [30]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      The criticism of this specific art piece makes absolutely no sense to me, and the explanation the artist gave seemed entirely obvious from the start. This is a game called Cyberpunk, in the...

      The criticism of this specific art piece makes absolutely no sense to me, and the explanation the artist gave seemed entirely obvious from the start. This is a game called Cyberpunk, in the cyberpunk genre. The entire thesis of the genre is that uncontrolled corporate control of the world dehumanizes people.

      The genre packed to the brim with hypersexualization in advertising. It's one of the hallmarks of the aesthetic. Getting upset about this is like getting upset that Joi is naked in the advertisement in Blade Runner 2049. It's there as a criticism of the world. More succinctly, it would be like getting pissed off that the empire is evil and cruel in Star Wars. Like, yeah, obviously. That's the entire point of them. The story wouldn't be compelling if they weren't.

      27 votes
      1. [9]
        burkaman
        Link Parent
        This is not obvious to most people, or even most video game consumers. I know because I've read a lot of scifi and played a lot of games and I didn't know that.

        The entire thesis of the genre is that uncontrolled corporate control of the world dehumanizes people.

        This is not obvious to most people, or even most video game consumers. I know because I've read a lot of scifi and played a lot of games and I didn't know that.

        9 votes
        1. papasquat
          Link Parent
          Maybe I'm just more immersed in the genre than most people. It's the reason why people into cyberpunk tend to look down on other *-punk settings (steampunk, dieselpunk). Cyberpunk isn't about neon...

          Maybe I'm just more immersed in the genre than most people. It's the reason why people into cyberpunk tend to look down on other *-punk settings (steampunk, dieselpunk). Cyberpunk isn't about neon lights or mirror shades, although those things are commonly associated with it because most early examples were written in the early 80s. It's about how technology and corporations control people's lives. It's basically a giant criticism of anarcho-capitilalism/regulatory capture, with a heavy dose of warning against rampant growth and over-reliance on technology. The Matrix is a pretty good representation of cyberpunk, despite not having the usual aesthetic trappings of the genre (some would argue it's post-cyberpunk though).
          Cyberpunk settings aren't good places to live in. No one would ever actually want to live in any of those worlds. Compare that to something like steampunk which is basically just "Victorian times, but with more gears on everything!" it's an aesthetic more than a theme, and much of the asthetic of cyberpunk comes from the theme.
          Flashy neon sex saturated ads with absolutely no hint of shame or restraint are exactly what you'd expect to see in a world entirely controlled by corporations only concerned with making as much money as possible. They absolutely would not care if it dehumanizes or insults some people as long as it made them an extra few bucks, and everyone is too downtrodden and tired from the constant exploitation to even post on twitter about it like they would today. That stuff is just normal to a person that lives in a setting like that.

          23 votes
        2. [8]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            When I first read A Modest Proposal I heard that when it was first published a bunch of people went up Swift's ass to express outrage that he would say such a thing. I thought to myself "Man, good...

            Quite frankly, I don't believe its CDPR's responsibility to explain that either, but of course they have to, because thousands of outraged people on the Internet aren't going to explain themselves into a calm state.

            When I first read A Modest Proposal I heard that when it was first published a bunch of people went up Swift's ass to express outrage that he would say such a thing. I thought to myself "Man, good thing we're not dumb enough to be this dense anymore."

            I was young and I was foolish.

            7 votes
          2. [6]
            burkaman
            Link Parent
            When you release something to the public, it is your responsibility to step outside your bubble and assess how it will be received. This isn't an indie game released on a cyberpunk forum, this is...

            When you release something to the public, it is your responsibility to step outside your bubble and assess how it will be received. This isn't an indie game released on a cyberpunk forum, this is a blockbuster upcoming release that has been massively promoted. If a huge portion of your target audience doesn't understand what you're doing, that's your responsibility to fix. Either the audience (that CDPR chose) is wrong, or the content needs some context and explanation.

            5 votes
            1. [6]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. [5]
                TheJorro
                Link Parent
                It sounds like you two are talking about different things but with the same terminology. He's talking about the dissemination of the message. In art, it is the artist's responsibility to...

                It sounds like you two are talking about different things but with the same terminology.

                He's talking about the dissemination of the message. In art, it is the artist's responsibility to communicate their message effectively. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it transforms entirely between author to work to reader. That's the nature of it. So if CDPR wants to communicate a world of "uncontrolled corporate control of the world dehumanizes people", then it's their responsibility to stick to that message and get it across effectively.

                An example of a game that failed this notably is Far Cry 3, which needed a post-release PR strategy to change how everyone saw its story because it did not effectively communicate its message at all. That was Ubisoft's responsibility, and they failed at it, and had to make a big course correction.

                You're speaking more about people jumping to conclusions about what they saw because they don't have a baseline for what to expect from Cyberpunk. And you're right about that. It reminds me of when people were lambasting Tropic Thunder before its release because they assumed things about it but would not have known that it was actually addressing those same things they thought the movie was violating. I wouldn't suggest that the initial response here regarding the issue was a case of trying to inject "modern trends of inclusion and representation", as it is a common response to entertainment media that is more universal than it initially seems, only with the concerns changed around.

                It remains to be seen how CDPR and the game will handle these issues, and I don't think assuming how it will turn out is a good strategy. That said, I don't think people's kneejerk responses should be dismissed out of hand either, but they should at least be considered. We've seen things that are meant to address issues be done really sloppily and badly before (e.g. MW2's airport scene was not the best way to communicate the message it was trying to impart). Like, sometimes a company just has to earn that goodwill so that people assume the best by default and not the worst. CDPR has definitely given trans groups things to worry about in the past.

                5 votes
                1. [5]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. vivaria
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    IMO art should be viewed in the context of the period it was created in. Trying to shield art by looking at it only through the lens of "This was the artist's intent. This is what it's supposed to...

                    IMO art should be viewed in the context of the period it was created in. Trying to shield art by looking at it only through the lens of "This was the artist's intent. This is what it's supposed to mean in the vacuum of its internal logic/lore." dissociates it from all of the messy parts of the outside world it belongs to (which I don't think is very helpful.)

                    Context here, for example, could be described as "trans folk have relatively few positive representations in mainstream media, but plenty of negative/ignorant representation." Context here could also be "people won't always know or care enough about the game's internal logic to understand intent, and will often consume messaging on its surface." A third bit of context could be "trans people are particularly vulnerable in society today, and treating them exactly the same as cis people in a blanket fashion could inadvertently do harm."

                    All of these bits of context operate independently of what the norms for the genre are, and how the in-game advertisement was supposed to be read. That's why I'm not really a fan of "well, you see, what it ACTUALLY means is this" as a defense. It's like, correcting someone for using "literally" wrong. Even if the word is supposed to function a certain way, if it's really functioning a different way, then we have to deal with that reality and understand its implications.

                    (Note, I'm not really taking a side here. Just... explaining how "misinterpreted the art" doesn't really... absolve the content creators of their responsibilities? Which I think was what @burkaman and @TheJorro were trying to get at.)

                    8 votes
                  2. [3]
                    cfabbro
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    While true, IMO that often only really applies to non-commercial and/or niche market art. If an artist's aim is to mass market and sell their work to general consumers, there is definitely way...

                    It's certainly reasonable for an artist to simply construct something and expect people to draw their own conclusions from the art.

                    While true, IMO that often only really applies to non-commercial and/or niche market art. If an artist's aim is to mass market and sell their work to general consumers, there is definitely way more obligation for them to explain their work and have a clearer message behind it, especially on contentious subjects. There can still be mystery, but ambiguity of intent on contentious topics can often (deservedly) lead to backlash and harsh critique, as we are seeing now with CP2077.

                    CDPR is actually still exploiting trans people in real life, purely by using a trans person to convey its message.

                    That strikes me as a bit of a strawman, and honestly, given GOG/CDPR's recent history regarding their previous interactions with the lgbt community (e.g. trying to exploit a trending trans rights hashtag, referencing gamergate, and distastefully joking about someone "assuming gender"), I think it's not entirely unreasonable for people to be skeptical of their motivations when they feature a seemingly sexually exploitative transgender element in their newest game.

                    3 votes
                    1. [3]
                      Comment deleted by author
                      Link Parent
                      1. vivaria
                        Link Parent
                        The way you've phrased this here puts the emphasis on the true message, and whether it comes across. Two outcomes come to mind with this phrasing, then: the <interesting, engaging, challenging>...

                        I don't think they should feel obligated in any way to make sure some message explaining the art reaches consumers clearly.

                        The way you've phrased this here puts the emphasis on the true message, and whether it comes across. Two outcomes come to mind with this phrasing, then: the <interesting, engaging, challenging> message comes across (good connotation!), or the <interesting, engaging, challenging> message doesn't come across (void? empty space? neutral connotation?). It frames the actions of the developers as relatively harmless either way, and makes it difficult to see how "responsibilities" or "obligations" could even come into play here.

                        There's another way to phrase this that looks at things from a slightly different angle. "If the message is misconstrued, what are the consequences? What real-world impact could the game have if the deeper meaning isn't clear enough?" I think asking questions like this gets at the root of why a little more care needs to be taken when depicting trans people.

                        If the ambiguity of the message is an inherent part of their style as an artist, I don't see a problem with that. If anything, I see it as a feature.

                        This is... easier to say when your livelihood and well-being aren't all that dependent on the public perception of your identity.

                        2 votes
                      2. cfabbro
                        (edited )
                        Link Parent
                        Because otherwise shit like what you're currently witnessing happens! LOL. :P And unless their intent was to actually generate controversy using this issue (which is equally disgusting), they...

                        But why?

                        Because otherwise shit like what you're currently witnessing happens! LOL. :P And unless their intent was to actually generate controversy using this issue (which is equally disgusting), they probably should have seen this coming and tried to avoid it by being clearer what their intent was. Also, the "especially on contentious subjects" were key words that you seem to have completely glossed over. That's an important distinction from just any old ambiguity of the message, which is why I included that part.

                        And you're absolutely right that CDPR isn't a good example in this case, because part of their "persona, style, [and] noticeable difference about them" in the past has been that they have, as developers, been incredibly sexually exploitative, crude and misogynistic. I love all The Witcher games, but in the original game, every time you fucked a women (including prostitutes) you were given a goddamn trophy for it in the form of a collectable card! See: Romance card. And that's fucking disgusting no matter how you try to spin it, IMO. Combined with all the other things that have happened (e.g. the twitter mess), CDPR absolutely has an obligation to clear the air, and try to be clearer in their messaging, IMO.

                        And while you're right that Cyberpunk has notable and common themes, and sexual exploitation by corporations is one of them, you still keep completely ignoring the fact that CDPR has a history of being pretty exploitative and ignorant themselves, especially when it comes to sex and gender issues. And given that, why you keep acting surprised that this backlash has occurred, or that people think CDPR should try to do better and be more clear is a bit beyond me at this point.

                        p.s. For the record, I don't believe CDPR has any malicious intent with including the art asset in question, I just think they made an honest mistake by not considering the optics of it, and that they are clearly trying to make up for it now. But I still think most of the criticism currently being levied against them is totally justified, and the anger and skepticism is totally understandable given their similar past mistakes.

                        1 vote
      2. [17]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        The difference is that Joi is an actual character and given agency in the story. The criticism here is that if the only representative of trans people in the game is an in game advert of a trans...

        The genre packed to the brim with hypersexualization in advertising. It's one of the hallmarks of the aesthetic. Getting upset about this is like getting upset that Joi is naked in the advertisement in Blade Runner 2049.

        The difference is that Joi is an actual character and given agency in the story.

        The criticism here is that if the only representative of trans people in the game is an in game advert of a trans woman with a massive fucking dick, then it is exploitative and feeding into a stereotype of fetishization of trans women. I understand that is the point of the ad, but its still shitty if they don't provide a counterexample of a positive depiction of trans people that isn't fetishized.

        I think including options for trans character creation is a positive step to show that is not the case. I personally would want to see trans / non-binary characters in the actual game. As you mentioned, cyberpunk is an established genre, and body modification, identity and self-expression are all very relevant themes of the genre.

        5 votes
        1. [16]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          Joi isn't an actual character. She didn't have any agency whatsoever. That was the whole point of that scene. She was just another product designed to exploit human emotions by a giant...

          Joi isn't an actual character. She didn't have any agency whatsoever. That was the whole point of that scene. She was just another product designed to exploit human emotions by a giant corporation. Her ad even says "Everything you want to hear" That's why K was so crushed at that moment. He came to the final realization that Joi never really loved him, she was just programmed to make him believe that she did, just like she was programmed to make everyone who purchased one believe.

          11 votes
          1. [15]
            dubteedub
            Link Parent
            I am going to completely disagree with you there and I think there is far more to interpretation than what you are implying. To me, Joi clearly showed that she was growing beyond her programming,...

            I am going to completely disagree with you there and I think there is far more to interpretation than what you are implying.

            To me, Joi clearly showed that she was growing beyond her programming, just as K was himself. Their dynamic showed that they were not defined by the designs put on them, they were foils showing they were capable of more than just killing replicants or being a hologram girlfriend.

            Joi refers to K's apartment as a prison and clearly asks for him to release her and make her "just like a real girl" in that she is capable of dying if her data is erased. That seems like agency and self-actualization to me.

            Her ad even says "Everything you want to hear" That's why K was so crushed at that moment.

            To me that was crushing because K recognized that Joi was more than that, and that she was dead and lost forever.

            3 votes
            1. [13]
              papasquat
              Link Parent
              If you'll notice in the movie, the key to "freeing her" from the apartment was conveniently another (most likely very expensive) Wallace Corporation product. She was literally a walking ad. Let me...

              Joi refers to K's apartment as a prison and clearly asks for him to release her and make her "just like a real girl" in that she is capable of dying if her data is erased. That seems like agency and self-actualization to me.

              If you'll notice in the movie, the key to "freeing her" from the apartment was conveniently another (most likely very expensive) Wallace Corporation product. She was literally a walking ad.
              Let me ask you, how many tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of other men and women did a "Joi' convince that they truly loved them and that they had exceeded their programming? If you were a company that sold true companionship as a product, wouldn't you want that to happen every single time?
              Do you think Joi was ever actually capable of not loving K? If Google had the capability to make their assistant pass the Turing test, don't you think they would?

              10 votes
              1. dubteedub
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I think both readings of the film are valid. I think you have a much more cynical take on the connection between Joi and K. I believe you are referring to the beginning of the movie when K bought...

                I think both readings of the film are valid. I think you have a much more cynical take on the connection between Joi and K.

                the key to "freeing her" from the apartment was conveniently another (most likely very expensive) Wallace Corporation product. She was literally a walking ad.

                I believe you are referring to the beginning of the movie when K bought her the initial hologram product that let her move more freely around the apartment, which I agree with. It showed that at least initially, she was little more than a product / advertisement.

                I think by the end of the film, she was developing into her own consciousness beyond the programming.

                If Joi is just a product meant to subdue a depressed Joe, or even more simply obey his every wish and fantasy like the billboard says, she would not have requested he wipe her from the console before they go to Vegas to meet Deckard. If she stayed apart of the console, she would not have died when Luv destroyed Joe’s remote accessory. This choice by the translucent being was also antithetical to what Joe wanted to hear, as he tried to convince her to stay in the console, even if it meant that Luv and company could check Joi’s memories. It was an act of actual love to place herself in this danger to protect Joe and deny his wishes. And it was thus a real final emotion where she cried “I love you” before Luv permanently disconnected the hardware.

                Just as Deckard was naïve to believe Roy Batty and the rest of the replicants he hunted were machines that needed to be switched off, the next species of artificial intelligence, by way of holograms wholly designed by other artificial beings, are as much alive as Joe, Luv, Mariette, and whatever the hell Deckard is supposed to be.

                The purpose of the story to me is to ask questions about what it means to be alive, what is the soul, and what is love.

                I think of all the characters, Joi is certainly the character who is most open to interpretation on that front and so is the most interesting.

                4 votes
              2. [11]
                Loire
                Link Parent
                In the scene where K's spinner goes down in the San Diego junkyard, he's unconscious and unaware of whats going on around him. Despite this, Joi still shows worry for him an tries to rouse him....

                In the scene where K's spinner goes down in the San Diego junkyard, he's unconscious and unaware of whats going on around him. Despite this, Joi still shows worry for him an tries to rouse him.

                Why would she do this when he is unconscious and not capable of knowing her actions, if she only serves to give the allusion of a waifu?

                1 vote
                1. [10]
                  cfabbro
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  If I were to program an AI companion with the intent of having it convince people it felt genuine affection towards them, I wouldn't let who is watching (or isn't) affect its behavior at all,...

                  If I were to program an AI companion with the intent of having it convince people it felt genuine affection towards them, I wouldn't let who is watching (or isn't) affect its behavior at all, since if it was ever inadvertently observed not behaving as expected towards someone that it supposedly felt said affection for, especially in moments of crisis, that could completely undermine the goal.

                  1 vote
                  1. [6]
                    Whom
                    Link Parent
                    Sure, but from a storytelling perspective, how are we supposed to take that? If you wanted to accentuate that those feelings are manufactured and manipulative, isn't that exactly what you'd do?...

                    Sure, but from a storytelling perspective, how are we supposed to take that? If you wanted to accentuate that those feelings are manufactured and manipulative, isn't that exactly what you'd do?

                    It'd be pretty clumsy to show something like the scene as it is if the idea wasn't for the audience to think it's genuine.

                    3 votes
                    1. [5]
                      cfabbro
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      You're supposed to take it however you interpret it. Isn't that one of the defining features of good art, it being open to multiple interpretations with multiple layers of meaning, potentially...

                      You're supposed to take it however you interpret it. Isn't that one of the defining features of good art, it being open to multiple interpretations with multiple layers of meaning, potentially even contradictory ones, with none of them necessarily wrong?

                      1. [4]
                        Whom
                        Link Parent
                        Well yeah, you're allowed to have that reading, but open interpretation should be used to open up more conversation and disagreement, not end it. There's still plenty of room for saying "ah, but...

                        Well yeah, you're allowed to have that reading, but open interpretation should be used to open up more conversation and disagreement, not end it.

                        There's still plenty of room for saying "ah, but that doesn't work this way! / contradicts with this bit of evidence!" which is also what you were doing :P

                        2 votes
                        1. [3]
                          cfabbro
                          Link Parent
                          Sorry, I don't really understand what you're trying to say here. I simply gave my interpretation of what could potentially be the reasoning behind what Loire observed. That's not shutting down...

                          Sorry, I don't really understand what you're trying to say here. I simply gave my interpretation of what could potentially be the reasoning behind what Loire observed. That's not shutting down their interpretation, it's simply another perspective and possibility to consider.

                          1. [2]
                            Whom
                            Link Parent
                            Oh, the shutting down I just meant towards your response to me, since I came back with a defense for my Loire's thoughts and got told it's just interpretation, which kinda shuts down anywhere you...

                            Oh, the shutting down I just meant towards your response to me, since I came back with a defense for my Loire's thoughts and got told it's just interpretation, which kinda shuts down anywhere you can go with things.

                            This is about as offtopic as we can get though, so I'll stop.

                            1 vote
                            1. cfabbro
                              Link Parent
                              Ah, I see. Yeah, that was a bit dismissive, sorry. So to address it instead of dismissing it: I definitely think it was the writers' and the director's intent to be ambiguous when it came to Joi...

                              Ah, I see. Yeah, that was a bit dismissive, sorry. So to address it instead of dismissing it:

                              I definitely think it was the writers' and the director's intent to be ambiguous when it came to Joi and all her scenes, and not force any particular interpretation down the audience's throat. And if so, they probably wouldn't want to accentuate that manufactured emotional aspect even if true, in which case the execution was not clumsy at all.

                              And the reason I think that is because in PKD's Do Android's Dream the ending was left open to interpretation, as was the original Blade Runner's which was what made them so appealing, so I can't see why they would do otherwise for 2049, which was billed as a true spiritual successor written by genuine fans of the previous works... especially since Ridley Scott has, since making the original, made several dumb comments which potentially ruined the mystery of the original Blade Runner ending, and for which he received a ton of backlash by the fans for.

                              1 vote
                  2. [3]
                    Loire
                    Link Parent
                    Sure, but then I would have to ask the question somewhat central to Blade Runner: At that point what is the difference? At what point do we draw the line between "real" affection and whatever that...

                    Sure, but then I would have to ask the question somewhat central to Blade Runner:

                    At that point what is the difference? At what point do we draw the line between "real" affection and whatever that Joi was feeling. If the programming is so convincing, so all encompassing that it continues no matter what the scenario, regardless of whether or not you observe it, who are we to say it isn't real love/affection?

                    Was Roy Batty any less alive just because his agency was digital code?

                    3 votes
                    1. [2]
                      cfabbro
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      All excellent questions that I don't think anybody really has satisfactory answers to, at least not yet (or maybe ever?). However my gut tells me there is likely no fundamental difference between...

                      All excellent questions that I don't think anybody really has satisfactory answers to, at least not yet (or maybe ever?). However my gut tells me there is likely no fundamental difference between a sufficiently advanced AI or replicant emulating human behavior and a "real" human. But I don't believe in souls and, TBH, I am not even entirely convinced we truly have free will, so... :P

                      What about you, what do you think?

                      1. Loire
                        Link Parent
                        My thoughts are probably vaguely similiar to your own in essence. Humans have developed this compulsion to prove our own existence extraordinary and unique. Even those who no longer believe in a...

                        My thoughts are probably vaguely similiar to your own in essence.

                        Humans have developed this compulsion to prove our own existence extraordinary and unique. Even those who no longer believe in a god often still act as if humanity is in some way exceptional, set apart from the rest of the universe.

                        And yet, if we truly look at ourselves, how many of us can truly say our lives would not be summarized by a fairly simple algorithm? How many of us don't follow the exact same paths and patterns, perform the same routines, almost every single day? How many of us have ever truly committed and act or created a thought that was truly unique?

                        We are simply bundles of algorithms. Organic algorithms instead of digital, however that is where the difference ends. If we were to ever develop AI sufficiently intelligent so as to mimic the "human condition" to the same degree as that seen in Blade Runner, I can't see how we could consider them subordinate to their biological counterparts.

                        2 votes
            2. krg
              Link Parent
              I think the feelings the audience feels about Joi mirror what K feels in the movie and, like K, we think there is more to her than a simple pleasure-bot, but ultimately she is just a...

              I think the feelings the audience feels about Joi mirror what K feels in the movie and, like K, we think there is more to her than a simple pleasure-bot, but ultimately she is just a representation of K's desires, which include ideations of free choice and even destiny. But, just as K realizes he is simply a replicant, Joi is simply a product. A product we may have gotten attached to and hoped more for, but a product nonetheless that had done its job.

              3 votes
      3. [3]
        balooga
        Link Parent
        I swear, some people won't be happy until every last objectionable thing has been removed from all media. Every character will be idealized and inoffensive and there will be no villains or...

        I swear, some people won't be happy until every last objectionable thing has been removed from all media. Every character will be idealized and inoffensive and there will be no villains or conflict or plot.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          On the flip side, is gaming beyond critique? Should we just consumer all media uncritically and not discuss its themes, messages, or implications? I don't really understand folks that will...

          On the flip side, is gaming beyond critique? Should we just consumer all media uncritically and not discuss its themes, messages, or implications?

          I don't really understand folks that will complain that gaming is not taken seriously and argue that it is art, and then also be upset that people try and take it seriously and offer critique.

          7 votes
          1. balooga
            Link Parent
            When it comes to narrative art like novels, TV, movies, and video games, I think there's a difference between critique and the sort of moral indignation we're discussing here. As others have said...

            When it comes to narrative art like novels, TV, movies, and video games, I think there's a difference between critique and the sort of moral indignation we're discussing here.

            As others have said in this thread: Just because a fictional world contains themes, imagery, or characters that are offensive, doesn't mean that the artists are endorsing it. You have to interpret these things in the context of their medium. Often the most outrageous elements of fiction are there specifically to illustrate something about the real world. Reacting to the inclusion or portrayal of something without taking the next step of considering why it was done that way is not critique.

            6 votes
    2. [12]
      The_Fad
      Link Parent
      Criticisms of exploitation have always kind of confused me. It seems like theres a market for exploitation art (for example, Black Dynamite) and everyone seems okay with that, but other times...

      Criticisms of exploitation have always kind of confused me. It seems like theres a market for exploitation art (for example, Black Dynamite) and everyone seems okay with that, but other times they're not okay with it? Just seems like a double standard.

      1. [10]
        dubteedub
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        The difference is that blaxploitation cinema is made by and for black audiences. Blaxploitation stories are centered around black characters and their stories are typically about overcoming...

        The difference is that blaxploitation cinema is made by and for black audiences. Blaxploitation stories are centered around black characters and their stories are typically about overcoming oppression in some way. (sidenote: Black Dynamite is more like a satire on the blaxploitation genre, rather than an actual example of it)

        In comparison, a game studio depicting an advertisement of a fetishized trans woman would be exploitative if there are no other non-fetishized / hypersexualized trans characters in the game, and especially so if there are no trans people on the development / writing team. Otherwise it is just depicting the stereotype or using trans identities, rather then representing them or providing an appropriate counterpoint.

        7 votes
        1. [9]
          The_Fad
          Link Parent
          What if the point of the art, and I'm not saying this is what CDPR was doing, was specifically to portray that idea, though? That in this future world they have either moved beyond the need to...

          What if the point of the art, and I'm not saying this is what CDPR was doing, was specifically to portray that idea, though? That in this future world they have either moved beyond the need to "clarify" (for lack of a better term) trans sexualization because trans people are considered no different than anyone else. Or that trans people face similar, though perhaps not exactly the same, exploitation in this futuristic world that they face in the real world?

          1 vote
          1. [8]
            alyaza
            Link Parent
            then there's probably a better way to do it than the way they actually did it. if you need to pull out a 500 word statement justifying this tiny advertisement and why you felt the need to include...

            then there's probably a better way to do it than the way they actually did it. if you need to pull out a 500 word statement justifying this tiny advertisement and why you felt the need to include it because nobody is getting what you supposedly meant to say with it, you're clearly not getting whatever point across you intended to and need to reconsider how you're going about it.

            4 votes
            1. [7]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. [6]
                dubteedub
                Link Parent
                I think it is valid for folks to raise concerns when there have been multiple troubling instances over the last couple years with cd project red and the trans community. The official Cyberpunk...

                The problem is, especially due to CDPR's history with this stuff, that wasn't good enough. Now, because of one tiny advertisement, we've began inspecting 2077 under a microscope.

                I think it is valid for folks to raise concerns when there have been multiple troubling instances over the last couple years with cd project red and the trans community.

                The official Cyberpunk Twitter account tweeted a transphobic "did you just assume their gender" joke, the official GOG.com account appropriated a trending transgender hashtag #WontBeErased to promote their PC games service, as well as another tweet from the official GOG account that was pro-Gamergate.

                If this was just a one off issue with the ad, I don't think far fewer people would have noticed or cared. It is exactly the "history with this stuff" that is causing folks to raise concerns.

                7 votes
                1. [6]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. [5]
                    dubteedub
                    Link Parent
                    Uh, I think you are really underestimating the general sensibilities of the gaming community. The mods of /r/PCGaming had to lock their post on this topic because it was flooded by transphobic...

                    all I can think is "people are going to be so fucking mad about this" not because CDPR is trying to represent these people but because whatever they come up with won't be perfect.

                    Uh, I think you are really underestimating the general sensibilities of the gaming community.

                    The mods of /r/PCGaming had to lock their post on this topic because it was flooded by transphobic people complaining about this inclusion, calling trans people mentally ill, and saying CD Project are pandering to SJWs.

                    The fact that media is pandering to and accommodating mental illness is disturbing. 40% of troons dont attempt suicide for no reason.

                    ...

                    White, Straight, Christian, Gamer, Men are the most oppressed group in America.

                    ...

                    Gross. Feels like they're caving to the degenerate left with this move.

                    ...

                    I love CDPR but pandering to such a crowd and such garbage sites to please garbage "gaming" journalists isn't the way to go.

                    ...

                    If you choose to be transgender will there be a special scene in the beginning like in FarCry where if you stand around long enough you blow your brains out for having a crippling mental disorder?

                    ...

                    Hopefully they will add an option to dilate and contemplate suicide on a regular basis in game. We need the highest level of realism.

                    ...

                    Was excited to get this, now I'll be avoiding it. GGs

                    https://www.removeddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/c0e4b0/cyberpunk_2077_designer_says_cdpr_is_working_on/

                    7 votes
                    1. [4]
                      Akir
                      Link Parent
                      What is it with that subreddit and hate? Did too many people hear the joke "PC Gamer Master Race" and think that that means that white supremacists belong there?

                      What is it with that subreddit and hate? Did too many people hear the joke "PC Gamer Master Race" and think that that means that white supremacists belong there?

                      3 votes
                      1. [3]
                        dubteedub
                        Link Parent
                        I don't think it is at all confined to the PC Gaming subreddit, but is endemic within the "gamer" community as a whole. /r/Games similarly locked their post on this topic. I think the whole...

                        I don't think it is at all confined to the PC Gaming subreddit, but is endemic within the "gamer" community as a whole. /r/Games similarly locked their post on this topic.

                        I think the whole Gamergate issue just showed that there is a strong belief in the typically straight, white gamer crowd that gaming is their hobby and their escape and anything that strays outside that norm is just some other group trying to come in and take their hobby away from them.

                        They fail to recognize that gaming is universal and that games can and should appeal to that diverse consumer audience.

                        So anytime that game devs include people of other races, or sex, or gender identity to appeal to the diverse gaming community, this subset of extremely vocal hate users lash out.

                        8 votes
                        1. [2]
                          Akir
                          Link Parent
                          You know what? You're completely right. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to the PC gamers since I've been investing in my PC as primary games machine lately.

                          You know what? You're completely right. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to the PC gamers since I've been investing in my PC as primary games machine lately.

                          3 votes
                          1. dubteedub
                            Link Parent
                            Thanks for hearing me out!

                            Thanks for hearing me out!

                            1 vote
            2. The_Fad
              Link Parent
              Sorry, I should've made it clearer: My intent was to move the conversation from CDPR exclusively and speak more in generalities. That's why I said I'll try to make it more clear in the future though.

              Sorry, I should've made it clearer: My intent was to move the conversation from CDPR exclusively and speak more in generalities. That's why I said

              and I'm not saying this is what CDPR was doing

              I'll try to make it more clear in the future though.

              2 votes
      2. burkaman
        Link Parent
        Black Dynamite was a clear parody, created by the very people who used to be exploited by blaxploitation films. The Cyberpunk ad was not obviously a parody (it's easy to find examples of people...

        Black Dynamite was a clear parody, created by the very people who used to be exploited by blaxploitation films. The Cyberpunk ad was not obviously a parody (it's easy to find examples of people unironically exploiting transgender people in <current year>), and it's not clear (to me) that any member of the exploited class was involved in the conception, design, or decision to release this.

        I'm not trying to say that cisgendered people aren't allowed to do something like this, but at least run it by a transgender friend? Make sure your artistic vision is coming across and you aren't accidentally contributing to the very thing you're trying to parody, so you aren't surprised by a controversy. The very nature of exploitation makes it extremely hard to parody if you aren't heavily involving the exploited group.

        5 votes
  2. [3]
    Akir
    Link
    This title feels very misleading to me. They aren't creating "transgender character options" so much as allowing you to choose from both female and male body traits. This isn't really anything...

    This title feels very misleading to me. They aren't creating "transgender character options" so much as allowing you to choose from both female and male body traits. This isn't really anything new, either, as there are already a handful of games with character creation that allow you to do the same. In the actual interview they quoted, it seemed he was talking about sex more than gender.

    Transgender options don't seem to make much sense to me either; my understanding of transgender people is that the majority of them want to be viewed as their gender of choice. And I'd imagine that sort of person would not want to create a transgender character to play as - they would rather just play as their chosen gender. Nonbinary people have a more complex relationship with gender, but most RPGs where you can play as either male or female typically treat the player character as gender neutral most of the time anyways.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Whom
      Link Parent
      I think you'll find that there's a lot of both. There's certainly plenty of trans people who feel how you describe, but also many who don't. Personally, at least outside of my most dysphoric...

      Transgender options don't seem to make much sense to me either; my understanding of transgender people is that the majority of them want to be viewed as their gender of choice. And I'd imagine that sort of person would not want to create a transgender character to play as - they would rather just play as their chosen gender.

      I think you'll find that there's a lot of both. There's certainly plenty of trans people who feel how you describe, but also many who don't. Personally, at least outside of my most dysphoric moments, transness isn't a barrier to me being a cis woman...that's just the kind of woman I am. I'm not wishing after being cis, I just want to be the most fully realized version of who I am. It's not a curse! For that reason, while I'm perfectly happy to play as a cis woman in games, I would enjoy even more the opportunity to be trans.

      I like to play in games as myself and make choices as fit with my own values and personality, and being trans is a big part of that...seeing that reflected in games would be cool. And it's cyberpunk, anyway! Identity blurring and crumbling into big masses of ????? is a huge theme that should be there for roleplaying purposes regardless.

      7 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        Oh yes, certainly. I didn't want to stuff all things transgender into one pidgeonhole. I figured I was probably oversimplifying things. Personally I don't like having character creators decide how...

        Oh yes, certainly. I didn't want to stuff all things transgender into one pidgeonhole. I figured I was probably oversimplifying things.

        Personally I don't like having character creators decide how masculine or feminine I look even as a cis man. I mean, who doesn't like the idea of trying out different body types? When I go through those character designers, I always try to make a unique character and avoid the muscle worship of more typical designs.

        1 vote
  3. vivaria
    (edited )
    Link
    I had written out a thing to respond to a few questions, but then those questions got deleted. (I did appreciate those contributions though! I hope you are doing okay friend! No ill will!) Still,...

    I had written out a thing to respond to a few questions, but then those questions got deleted. (I did appreciate those contributions though! I hope you are doing okay friend! No ill will!) Still, I do want to add these thoughts to the topic in case anyone might find them helpful.

    Honestly, what would you change about this piece of content? Would you just remove the transgender person from the ad or the ad itself from the game? Would you replace it with something else?

    These are good and hard questions. Personally, I'm able to comfortably camouflage my queerness, and my dysphoria is mild enough that I'm OK with androgynous presentation + male pronouns. My queerness is well-hidden! I mention this because while I share a lot of feelings with other trans folk, I also lack a lot of their lived experiences (which would be really informative for questions like this). Because of that, though, it's hard for me to chime in with the "right" way to do this.

    If the goal is to achieve that kind of understanding, then, in an ideal world I would hope that if a dev studio is touching queer/non-cishet identities, then they'd reach out to groups that advocate for/represent/are made up of queer folks. By listening to their perspectives (or even better, including them in the design process), they would be able to get a sense for how trans folk have been represented in media in the past, and allow real humans with relevant experiences to help shape what trans inclusion looks like. This would go a long way to ensure that inclusion isn't exploitative (or read as exploitative). Otherwise, it ends up as a clumsy guessing game that misses the mark (kind of like a lot of us have been doing here.)

    But, at the same time I recognize that doing that would be expensive and time-consuming! From what I hear, the gamedev industry is quite fucked. (For this game in particular, AFAIK it's been delayed? Or, has been in development for a long time?) So, I imagine that corners have already been cut and devs have been put through unimaginable hell trying to crank this one out. My "ideal world" hopes, then are... hard to hope for.

    Still, tl;dr: if you're trying to tell a story using perspectives and experiences far outside your own, don't rely on your own research to build up a portrait of what you think is right. It's a lot safer to directly involve people who have lived those perspectives and experiences at every step of the design process.

    (As an aside, this is similar to what I had been told in my engineering design classes, but instead in the context of designing accessibility solutions for people with disabilities. It's really easy to miss the mark by convincing yourself you know what's best for someone without ever getting their input. Then you end up with a product that... misunderstands how the target audience lives their life, and does more harm than good.)

    4 votes