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What's the Cyberpunk?

What's the Cyberpunk?

In the video, a woman is wearing makeup. As the camera zoomed out, it was discovered a mechanical hole in her chin. The connected cables ignited a businessman's head, and an elevator the size of an apartment was slowly climbing to the skyline along the outline of the towering building.

These scenes are some of the silhouettes CDPR showed in the E3 launch trailer for "Cyberpunk 2077", briefly introducing "Night City" to players. The promotional video shows a carnival world with thousands of people, comparable to the city of No. 17, with a unique world setting. This neon sea-like art style is not original to the game, but has another origin. In "Cyberpunk 2077", CDPR has created an entire game world based on modern pop culture. Unlike other works, the pop culture appears directly in the name of the game, "cyberpunk". But what does the word mean and what is its origin?

Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal — 48-minute walkthrough - YouTube

The Pre-Cyberpunk Era

The "cyberpunk" culture can be traced back several generations. However, its first landmark work was the novel "Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?" (aka "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"). Written in 1968 by Philip K. Dick, this novel centers on a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard who hunts down a group of paranoid cyborgs who want to become humans.

This plot sounds familiar, right? Because this book was adapted and remade 10 years later into the famous action sci-fi movie - "Blade Runner". In the film, the city at night, the fire from the distant industrial area, and the huge billboard covering the entire building set the tone for the cyberpunk art style of later generations.

But the cyberpunk world not only comes from Dick's novel, the comic "The Long Tomorrow" co-created by French artist Moebius and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon in 1975 also provides a certain reference for this dirty future city . In the comics, the dense towers form rifts around the residential area, which inspired Ridley Scott's Blade Runner in 1982 and served as the inspiration for Otomo Keyang's "Blade Runner" in the same year. Akira provided creative inspiration. Another American-Canadian writer, William Gibson, who we'll talk about later, learned a lot.

The Naming of "Cyberpunk"

From "Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?" "As for the question of who is human in the age of robots, to the combination of neon lights and sci-fi in "The Long Tomorrow", to the rainy future city in "Blade Runner", almost all cyberpunk elements were used in the last century. They were all in place in the early 1980s. Just a general name.

"You know, when I coined this C in the '80s, I just wanted an edgy and short name for my story." Bruce Bass, who coined the term "cyberpunk" Kerr said. He used "cyberpunk" as the title of an article about youth hackers. He added: "I'm not trying to define a phenomenon or start a cultural movement or anything. I just want to use a short but powerful title that summarizes the core of the article. That's very important for an editor. , it's about whether they will accept my article. Obviously my words are a bit too good."

After the article was published in 1983, BMyentally" became associated with cyberpunk culture. The term was used to encapsulate the nascent cyberpunk culture, just in time for cyberpunk’s pioneering work, the release of William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer. This 1984 novel tells the story of an "electronic cowboy" Case, a hacker who offends a badass boss and leaves his nervous system devastated, unable to connect to the "Matrix" of cyberspace. At the story's beginning, a new employer promises to repair his damage, provided he helps them with a big heist. From the night city in Japan to the deserted city in the United States, the story also enters the space station at the end. All this, just to liberate a super-advanced AI. The story combines crime and sci-fi themes. However, like the previous "Blade Runner", the world that Gibson depicts in the novel makes this work a masterpiece.

The future described in Neuromancer can be divided into two parts: the filthy, crime-prone real world and the bright and beautiful online world; ordinary people struggling to survive on the streets and living in space doing nothing, thinking Aristocrats who prolong life; a world that is dying (in the book, the protagonist Case buys a 50-year-old Vietnamese imitation American fake Walther PPK pistol) and a world where people use high-tech technology at will for human modification, as long as You can afford the remodel.

The Long Tomorrow Poster

Break/Create Rules

The book Neuromancer defines cyberpunk culture, and subsequent works excavate and consolidate this cultural phenomenon. Neuromanipulators and Synths by Pat Cutigan explore the psychological effects of brain modification. Rudy Luke's Wetware series follows in the footsteps of Neuromancer, exploring self-aware AIs and their logical decisions, and discussing how mechanized life could evolve. And Bruce Sterling's works, such as "Internet Island", are very focused on the hacker subculture.

Sterling is a big name in the cyberpunk field, and he also has the title of "Chairman Bruce". He co-edited the 1986 edition of Sunglasses: An Anthology of Cyberpunk Works. This is an authoritative collection of short stories featuring Gibson, Cardigan and Luke. In the preface, Sterling wrote: "Some specific themes are rapidly emerging in the field of cyberpunk, and the concept of human body modification is one of them, such as prosthetics, implanted chips, cosmetic surgery, genetic modification, etc. A more extreme concept is neuromodification, the combination of human brain and computer interface, artificial intelligence, neurochemistry, and other technologies that fundamentally transform human beings and human nature itself.”

In the concept of cyberpunk, it will combine advanced science and technology with more down-to-earth social issues. Things like drugs, bars and social pressures that cause people to commit crimes. The absolute authority in the cyberpunk world is always in the hands of super companies started with technology. The protagonists are usually people outside the company, mostly criminals or anti-heroes. Sterling has an oft-quoted quote that sums up cyberpunk well: "Lower Society + High Tech."

The "Cyberpunk" board game, released in 1988, marked the culture's first foray into gaming. This is a role-playing board game invented by Mike Pondsmith. Not only does this work have the same name as "Cyberpunk 2077", but CDPR's "2077" is directly adapted from this board game. "Cyberpunk 2077" adapts this board game suitable for multiplayer into a first-person open-world stand-alone game while retaining the original world view, character occupation and style of the original author. Pondsmith told us at Polygon how he sees cyberpunk culture: "The people at the bottom are under enormous political and social pressure, but they do everything they can to compete with the top to achieve the liberation of humanity." When the script of the board game Bopunk was written, the related works of Gibson and Sterling had not yet been read. But he injected the ideas of the two authors into the later board game "Cyberpunk 2020". The once ambiguous cyberpunk genre finally has a clear definition. But if the tenet of cyberpunk culture is to "break the rules" as stated in the "2020" manual, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Cyberpunk Pandemic

Bruce Beske believes: "The cultural trend led by cyberpunk novels is just like other successful pop culture. It has gradually become a trendy culture from the beginning of an unknown concept. It is sought by the masses and for businesses. The favorite, and finally become a generation of classic culture.”

The central idea of ​​Neuromancer became a model of cyberpunk style. Stories of protagonists living on the fringes of society and doing illegal things like drug dealing and hacking quickly rotted the streets. So much so that the famous cyberpunk novels that appeared in the 1990s were all stories that pushed this model to the extreme. In the first chapter of Neil Stephenson's Avalanche, the author introduces readers to Hiro, an arbitrarily named protagonist. He's a dual-wielding katana sword with "enough power to blast bacon into space." As a result, the author told us that the protagonist was just a pizza deliveryman. In his 1995 novel Headcrash, Beske even mocked the literary genre he helped create,

It reads:

"They're just lowly losers who dream of saving the world with code. And they're just browsing brainless forums and looking at nasty pictures on their computers. You know, those cyberpunks. "

It looks like the cyberpunk wave may end there. As early as 1993, an article with an oddly titled prophesied "Rest In Peace, Cyberpunk." However, with the replacement of the millennium, the genre of cyberpunk has attracted more and more attention. The influence of this culture continues to spread to other countries. While being accepted by the public as the mainstream culture also derives many different branches. A large part of them are from Japan. "Aguilar" led a wave of cyberpunk comics and anime, including "Gunmen", "Rein", "Cowboy Bebop" and the famous "Ghost in the Shell", this work in turn Inspired the Wachowskis to make The Matrix. In gaming, Deus Ex has laid a lot of groundwork for CDPR's Cyberpunk 2077. Hideo Kojima, who made a cyberpunk game more than ten years ago, amplified the elements of neuro-mechanical transformation and artificial intelligence to produce the unprecedentedly successful "Metal Gear" series.

 

As for how many of the above works are real "cyberpunk" works, it is still up for debate. But they all have the high-tech (cables that connect Keanugo's spine) and dressing styles (the protagonists wear reflective sunglasses) unique to the cyberpunk world, but the topics they discuss are different. No matter who you believe more, cyberpunk culture has developed so far, quoting another sentence in the "Cyberpunk 2020" manual: "There are only appearances, but no reality." This is Gibson's self-criticism in June, when he said: "The trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 is, in my opinion, just a retro-futuristic '80s-era GTA shell-out."

Only its Appearance, Not the Reality

Ultimately, the cyberpunk style is an upgrade and evolution of the '80s style, and it's much more than leather jackets, shiny chrome and dazzling neon lights. Cyberpunk has its unique artistic style, but its origin is very complicated, and it is difficult to explain a sentence or two when explaining it to laypeople. The cyberpunk card game "Hacker" designer said: "The best thing about cyberpunk culture is that we can recognize that it is the future world we will be in."

Writers of cyberpunk fiction, such as Gibson and Stephenson, predict, and sometimes help, technology development. Their novels popularized terms such as "cyberspace", "virus" and "avatar". Stephenson's "Metaverse" concept has influenced many technology brands like Google Earth and Xbox Live. Of course, these are not the most important things in cyberpunk's vision for the future. Cyberpunk focuses more on the human experience and discusses how to study technology and human beings to the extreme.

The group of writers who set the tone for cyberpunk culture watched the world evolve rapidly in the late 20th century. Deeply realize that technology will be an integral part of creating human beings. Cyberpunk explores the social impact of technology on everyday life, and this concept distinguishes it from other branches of science fiction. In Neuromancer, an implanted health monitor could be fatal. Large companies may force employees to undergo physical modifications to improve work efficiency in the book. Ashley Yawns, who writes for the otaku website Timber Owls, said: "For me, what interests me most about cyberpunk is, in an age where everyone is desperately mechanized, what does it mean to be human?" She once tweeted Discussed the E3 demo of Cyberpunk 2077 multiple times, guessed political leanings in the game, and analyzed the body modification display in the trailer.

Genre with Politics

"Body modification strengthens the rights of those who advocate physical freedom, primarily people with disabilities, transgender people and women," Yawns said. "The question is, when this utopian fantasy collides with the barren society depicted by cyberpunk, who can pay for the freedom of the body?" She also said: "It is good to carry out the transformation and repair of the body on the premise of freedom. But doing such a transformation means falling into evil corporations' physical or financial servitude. Anyone who has experienced those tech companies stealing information from your phone can imagine if such corporations could take control of your body, or even your entire nerves. What will happen to the system."

"Cutting-edge technology is always limited by the social problems it brings", this sentence is the core of cyberpunk culture. In interviews, William Gibson often sums it up: "The future is here, but not everyone can enjoy it." The point of conflict in the cyberpunk world is between the rich who have these futuristic technologies and the poor who can't afford them. an insurmountable gulf. In the cyberpunk megalopolis, there are such gulfs everywhere.

It now seems that even though the future world that the writers described at the beginning is slightly outdated in terms of technology, the core conflict in it still makes the cyberpunk genre not outdated. Pondsmith said: "I think that any good cyberpunk work should show this relationship between power and politics, humanity and fairness. There is no way in the utopian world of "Star Trek". Show your fists, and a wonderful story should be that the protagonist will immediately rise up when any hegey squeezes him.”

CDPR seems to have faithfully reproduced this philosophy of Pondsmith. Level designer Patrick Mills recently wrote on Xbox Live:

"Cyberpunk 2077 depicts a world in which a small group of mega-rich wielding technology and power enslave an entire fragmented world where most people live in endless poverty and violence. Such a world How is the world different from ours now? That's up to you." In contrast to when game developers and publishers avoided politics in their games, Mills said: "The Cyberpunk franchise is inherently political."

A brighter post-apocalyptic future

Litzsinger strongly agrees: "For me, cyberpunk does have a political element. Usually, the protagonist is on the edge of the law, or because the crime is high, or because the law can't keep up with the pace of technological development. It inspires us to think, what is legal and what is ethical? And in many cyberpunk stories, many stories go against the 'system'." Litzsinger's "Hacker" will be completed by the end of the year. A cyberpunk work on political issues. Although this is just a card game, the culture and stories carried by the thousands of cards in "The Hacker" are enough to create a world with complete settings and rich details.

Unlike previous cyberpunk stories that usually take place in the United States, Japan or China, The Hacker's location covers the world. In this world, the Ecuador is the economic center of the world. At the same time, there will be related cards in the game, allowing players to explore the world of India and the Sahara Desert. The list of roles is evenly split between males and females, and there are gender-neutral and transgender characters. Unlike the Asian elements in previous cyberpunk works, which are very rare, the game also sets the Asian people as the leaders of the whole world.

Race and ethnicity is a controversial point in Cyberpunk 2077. In the first promotional video of the work, only one Indian character appeared, who played the image of a fixed taxi driver. The Chinese Room studio, the producer of "Dear Esther," recently accused CDPR on Twitter of making women too sexy. CDPR responded by tweeting a transphobic meme. In the most recent 48-minute-long gameplay demo, the race aspect was slightly better. Players can also choose the gender and race of the protagonist "V", but it's still not perfect. The players' characters are still mostly white, with only a black gang leader Dexter DeShaw and a glib Latino Jackie Welles. There are also complaints that some classic Spanish have been replaced with English.

Overall, though, CDPR seems to be very faithful to Pondsmith's original work. From the middle class in the game to the security forces of large companies have been restored. The developers' detailed trailer analysis shows their views on issues such as pan-advertising, gun management and the unfair distribution of technology in terms of worldview creation.

Amplified real world

"Cyberpunk" and other science fiction works are based on modern society's mapping and highlighting the contradictions. The for-profit medical system becomes the "First Aid Squad" in Cyberpunk 2077, appearing in the demo's first mission. They are an armed medical team, ready to go on a killing spree to save their clients. Such metaphors are obvious, but these exaggerated elements help us reflect on today's society. Entering the cyberpunk forum and a large number of fanworks, many people are imagining the stories that will happen after cyberpunk elements become a social reality. Like police officers wearing augmented reality glasses, or people charging robotic arms on trains. Business giants and supermarkets monitor their whereabouts and chats to "assess employee performance". "Resurrection" of deceased stars through high-tech, crowdfunding for surgeries, etc. These events have already happened in Cyberpunk. With yet another cultural explosion in Cyberpunk. In recent years, related movies have included the sequel of "Blade Runner" and the live-action version of "Ghost in the Shell". TV shows include "Carbon Change" on Netflix. There are new titles for The Observer, EXAPunks, and Deus Ex. Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it will be a special game because it chooses to boldly confront these socio-political issues. As Pondsmith himself said: "The story of Cyberpunk is about social injustice and a future of unequal opportunity. It's about powerful corporations colluding with the government and constantly controlling ordinary citizens. It's about how those ordinary citizens use All kinds of ways to resist hegemony."

"Yes, cyberpunk is about politics, especially the present we live in."

Amplified real world

"Cyberpunk" and other science fiction works are based on modern society's mapping and highlighting the contradictions. The for-profit medical system becomes the "First Aid Squad" in Cyberpunk 2077, appearing in the demo's first mission. They are an armed medical team, ready to go on a killing spree to save their clients.

Such metaphors are obvious, but these exaggerated elements help us reflect on today's society. Entering the cyberpunk forum and a large number of fanworks, many people are imagining the stories that will happen after cyberpunk elements become a social reality. Like police officers wearing augmented reality glasses, or people charging robotic arms on trains.

Business giants and supermarkets monitor their whereabouts and chats to "assess employee performance". "Resurrection" of deceased stars through high-tech, crowdfunding for surgeries, etc. These events have already happened in cyberpunk.

With yet another cultural explosion in cyberpunk. In recent years, related movies have included the sequel of "Blade Runner" and the live-action version of "Ghost in the Shell". TV shows include "Carbon Change" on Netflix. There are new titles for The Observer, EXAPunks, and Deus Ex. Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it will be a special game because it chooses to boldly confront these socio-political issues.

As Pondsmith himself said: "The story of Cyberpunk is about social injustice and a future of unequal opportunity. It's about powerful corporations colluding with the government and constantly controlling ordinary citizens. It's about how those ordinary citizens use All kinds of ways to resist the hegemony.”

"Yes, cyberpunk is about politics, especially the present we live in."

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