The Political Cyberpunk 2077 Thread

Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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163 Responses

  1. Ozzzy!
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    First! (This is the right level of seriousness for dad rock, gaming, journalism, comment sections I believe)?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Ozzzy!
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      Comparisons to Dad Rock are appropriate, I think. I saw one blurb explain that the game doesn’t do anything with the Cyberpunk setting. It’s still stuck in a 1980 William Gibson understanding of the term! It’s got Cyberpunk locked in amber!

      I can easily see how a 22 year old would look at that blurb and immediately exhale through their nose and explain that there is still a *LOT* of work that needs to be done.

      But, as an old guy, I’m more like Eddie Money playing air guitar on his saxophone when I read that complaint (see 2:24).

      Report

  2. DensityDuck
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    Do keep in mind, here, that Sarkeesian thinks that devoting seven paragraphs of a video-game review to a discussion of trans representation in media is a good thing, something we should be getting more of in our video-game reviews.Report

    • Ozzzy! in reply to DensityDuck
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      Is that before or after he ruins the Falcon’s winning chances, again.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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      It’s a weird example of the same thing as what happened in the PS5 review.

      It’s not a review that that will make sense in five years.

      If I wanted to go back and read a review of the original Playstation, I imagine it’ll talk about everything from the ability to play CDs on your game system (LISTEN TO MUSIC THROUGH YOUR TELEVISION!) to the games that are available (BATTLE ARENA TOSHINDEN).

      If I go back and read a review of the PS2, what do I see? The ability to play DVDs, complaints about no hard drive peripheral, ONLY TWO CONTROLLER PORTS. See? This review makes sense in 2020.

      A review of the PS3: Blu-ray player, hard drive, USB ports, discussion of online gaming. See? This review makes sense in 2020.

      A review of the PS4: Graphics! Interface! Controller! Library! See? This review makes sense in 2020.

      And, in the future, we will look back at the review of the PS5 and see that it was discussing late capitalism, Donald Trump, and existentialism.

      We won’t go back to it to reorient ourselves with what the tech was like in 2020, but what the tech journalism was like in 2020.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Jaybird
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        Here is what bugs me. There are a ton of journalism articles that don’t interest me. When I encounter one, I close my browser window and get on with my day. I don’t complain about them — at least not much. When I take the time to complain about something, it is not merely because I didn’t find it interesting or useful. Instead, it is because something about it bothered me.

        So why does interrogating how trans people are represented in a game bother you? Certainly you must understand, at least on an intellectual level, how these topics are just as important as video card performance or the responsiveness of controls or how many i-frames you get while dodging.

        Right? You agree with that?

        Are you saying these conversations should not happen? After all, modern video games often have as much “content” as books and movies. Specifically, Nier: Automata affected me emotionally at least as much as any movie I’ve seen or any book I’ve read. It truly is a masterpiece, despite the fact that its gameplay is often underwhelming — in places. It’s gameplay is really “mixed.” Sometimes great. Sometimes frustrating. The story, however — OMG.

        Any discussion of that game that ignores its narrative content would be woefully incomplete, and as soon as you discuss narrative — well I’d argue the door is open to placing that narrative in a social context, just as we routinely do for movies and books.

        However, the moment we discuss what that means for trans folks, then that sticks in Jaybird’s craw. Why?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to veronica d
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          So why does interrogating how trans people are represented in a game bother you?

          It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me at all. I absolutely understand why it is the Moral Topic Du Jour among a certain journalism crowd.

          Now I am very much interested in whether the ones among whom it is the Moral Topic Du Jour are the ones reviewing CD Projekt games, and I’ll tell you why:

          Because, back in 1980, Gene Siskel demonstrated that an important tool in the reviewer’s toolkit includes stuff to make products that they don’t like not get purchased by the public and not get made in the future.

          If someone is reviewing the game and gives it a crappy score because it is a crappy game, then that’s part of the price of making a crappy game.

          You get a 6 out of 10 from Jeff Gerstmann.

          But if you make an *EVIL* game. One that *NOBODY* should play, one that nobody should even be curious about, one that is made by a company that should be punished for making it? Well, what do you do when you review a game from them that is, as genre games go, a pretty good game (at least for the genre it’s in)?

          If the answer is “damn the game with faint praise”, how does that impact your attitude towards whether or not the game is any good?

          Let’s say a game comes out next week and this same reviewer gushes and says “OH MY BOB THIS IS THE BEST GAME I’VE EVER PLAYED”… do you know anything about the game? Or just the reviewer’s attitude toward the developer?

          Are you saying these conversations should not happen?

          Not at all.

          But I’m also saying that a game can be good, even if it doesn’t celebrate various topics that the reviewers feel it ought to be celebrating.

          A review given from someone who feels that no one ought to play an evil game is not worth a whole lot to me.

          (Though if you’d like to discuss an organization that could provide ratings to games and warn consumers of potentially offensive content, I would be down with adding a little box to the front of the packaging that says stuff like “Appropriate For All Ages” or “Only Appropriate For Adults”.)Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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            Another angle re: Siskel. Bart Simpson said Friday the 13th pt 1 was ‘pretty tame by today’s standards’…. in 1990. The ninth installment of the Saw franchise is coming out next year.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to InMD
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              In 1990, I saw Total Recall in the theater. I remember being shocked and horrified at so very many scenes. The shootings were so graphic! The red ball that came out of his nose! OH JEEZ MY NOSE IS ITCHING JUST REMEMBERING IT. Benny’s hand! “See you at the party, Richter!” And his eyes bugging out of his head on the surface! UGH!

              And now? It’s a funny movie… nostalgic, even.

              They don’t make ’em like *THAT* anymore!

              It’s almost like all of this media is desensitizing us, and we’re going to have more and more and more AND MORE extreme media come along to try to prod our exhausted dopamine centers into something that will make us want to buy a Coke.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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                Now I finally get why the liberals think conservatism is just slowing down the change…

                “why can’t we go back to Friday 13th part 1 levels of violence is the 21st century conservative movement”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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                Standing athwart history shouting “could we go back and accept the deal that we rejected a decade ago?”Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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                Heh… imagine if this bold party were to negotiate The Grand Deal:

                We agree to everything you ask TODAY… but there can be no further adjustments changes for 25-/50-/100-years.

                Would that be a good deal? Would ‘today’ be limited to what we/they want today or would it turn in to what we/they want 50-years from now?

                Who would defect first?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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                “The positional goods have been redistributed but I, somehow, am still only in the top quintile but not the top decile… time for some new rules!”

                That would take… two years? Four tops?Report

              • veronica d in reply to Marchmaine
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                Surely you understand that these are not one-on-one negotiations. Like, how would it work?

                For example, say we agree to give full rights to trans people, but promise we won’t advocate for American Indian rights — okay, so what the fuck? Should I agree with that? How would I justify it to myself? It would be a FYIGM.

                So no, no deal like that could be made. The very idea is obscene.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine
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                We should all keep in mind that at this time, the “conservative” American political party is the most aggressive agent of change, at least with respect to public policy that government can actually effect.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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                I don’t disagree… I don’t think the Republican party is ‘conservative’ in any meaningful way.

                But, what is ‘conservative’ is tiresome and probably past its sell date; so not really what I’m going for here.

                On the one hand, I do think there’s a notion (often expressed here [cough]) that ‘conservative’ is just slow motion change… and in practice that seems to be the case – Hey, why can’t we have Friday13 level violence? Porn uploaded from *verified* users is the answer – so, maybe that’s just true in that we’re all really just Liberals. But on the other hand, if we had a conservative political philosophy and a conservative political party, it would be based on different principles and not simply velocity.

                But the Republican Party as a conservative political movement isn’t a hill I’m going to defend. Heck, I’ll probably join you in storming the ramparts.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine
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                I agree about your note that the label “conservative” is not meaningful.
                Particularly since the trajectories of the constituent parts of New Deal liberalism and Reagan conservatism have diverged.

                What I mean is, American culture is moving rapidly in one direction on social issues, and in an entirely different direction on economic issues.

                So “change” is happening in both liberal and conservatives directions simultaneously.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Game it out.

                Where do you see it ending up?

                (I will note that I the new and improved Occupied Zone in Portland is actually doing something vaguely defensible this time… and it’s getting absolutely ZERO coverage compared to the CHOP.)Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Hmmn, from my vantage American culture and economic issues are moving rapidly in multiple directions. As might be expected with a broken consensus.

                But yes, I see change happening along all these vectors, ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ alike.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
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                This is exactly Rod Dreher. “Instead of SSM, why didn’t they accept the civil unions with full legal equality that we also fought tooth and nail?”Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Mike Schilling
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                Sure, but the flip-side question is if Civil Unions had been done, would we all be conservatives defending the sanctity of Civil Unions vs. Marriage… because that was the deal?

                That’s why the though experiment strikes me as intuitively true but practically a non-starter cause there’s no way to make anything ‘stick’

                There’s no deal to be had.Report

              • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                True but there’s also the ongoing error of mistaking every status quo for a defensible position or worse a hill to die on. There are a lot of dead conservatives who mistook speed bumps for the high ground.

                Of course the best chance conservatives have is coaxing progressives into a similar trap of defending the indefensible.

                Hypothetical: Saw 9 includes a trans victim who gets killed with the rest of the poor cis sops that make up these films. SJW twitter goes bananas over ‘glorifying violence against trans people.’ The befuddled film makers of this unapologetic trash thought they were being inclusive. Do conservatives (i) side with the sub-Hollywood scum based on ideals of freedon of expression, (ii) side with the SJWs and assert that traditional values abhor this kind of crap in our theaters, or (iii) ask why we can’t go back to horror movies with a token black guy that gets killed first? Wasn’t that enough diversity anyway?Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine
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                That’s not predetermined. If national civil unions had been accepted by social conservatives, say around the time the foofaraw around civil unions in Vermont erupted in the mid-aughts, it’s entirely possible that the SSM issue would have been defused. Absolutely some elements of the gay rights movement would no doubt be have continued pushing for SSM just like a fringe element today is still advocating, with absolutely no traction, for poly marriage but with the SSM movements substantive and practical complaints addressed by civil unions the movement would have had an enormous amount of momentum drained from it as everyone except the true believers tuned out.

                The real history of civil unions, of course, is that they were utterly scorned by the social conservatives right up to the verge of full-fledged SSM sweeping the nation at which point some isolated elements on the right desperately said “why won’t they settle for civil unions?” That’s akin to the Black Knight sitting armless and legless in the forest reluctantly offering “Alright, we’ll call it a draw.”
                And even if, for whatever reason, SSM had continued and ultimately won the day the social conservatives would still be able to point at having offered civil unions as proof that they actually did care about the practical welfare of same sex couples on some level. Frankly I don’t see how that counterintuitive could have resulted in socialcons being in a worse position than they are today.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to North
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                No, I certainly wouldn’t call any counterfactual pre-determined. But I kinda think this post combined with Veronica’s hits on the uncertainty I’m pointing out. What you say seems perfectly reasonable, and yet simultaneously obscene.

                But the other thing I’m noting that’s interesting (at least to me) is that there are some Liberal voices that are trying to do the whole ‘velocity’ thing and its not at all clear to me that Liberals can alter the velocity… never mind Conservatives or Republicans.Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine
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                Obscene I get, after all SSM/gay rights is the most successful, rapid and pervasive romp to victory in the entire history of civil rights movements. I’d agree that the obscenity of the opposition was a significant element of that. I remember back in the day when the anti-SSMers were on the debate/advocacy trail and the inevitable question came up of “if not marriage/gay rights for non-religious gay folks then what?” and poor Maggie and David would stammer and stutter like a jammed printer and eventually choke out “I don’t know but not this.” Everyone knew that wasn’t really the answer but that the honest one “You should pretend to be straight or please return to being invisible or maybe vanish” simply wouldn’t fly. Hell, to this day social conservatives are still groping around on the ground trying to find an answer to that question. Their current one: “faithful gay people should live faithful chaste lives free of persecution and cruelty from their straight co-religionists and non-believing gay people should just have nothing to do with us” is a huge improvement but it’s not exactly joyfully embraced.Report

      • j r in reply to Jaybird
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        A review of the PS4: Graphics! Interface! Controller! Library! See? This review makes sense in 2020.

        And, in the future, we will look back at the review of the PS5 and see that it was discussing late capitalism, Donald Trump, and existentialism.

        We won’t go back to it to reorient ourselves with what the tech was like in 2020, but what the tech journalism was like in 2020.

        Hey all!

        That bit above is really the heart of the matter, at least for me. Some people want wokeness from their journalism and cultural criticism and some abhor it. There is no right or wrong, though I am sure that we can argue back and forth ad infinitum.

        More interesting to me is whether we can draw any meaningful conclusions on the value and long-term viability of mass media and of journalism as a career. Here is where I think that these trends do not end well. Not to say that wokeness will kill media. It won’t. The trends in media are economic, technological, and demographic, in nature. But… as the pool of journalism jobs shrink, it becomes more and more important for journalists to remain a member in good standing with their peers, which requires curtailing your worldview to what is acceptable among those peers.

        The set of acceptable opinions among the journalist/academic/activist class has begun to noticeably diverge from the rest of the population. So, as Jaybird points out, journalists are increasingly reporting on themselves. This discourse is interesting to the chattering classes and to an adjacent group of people who really like talking about this stuff. Is that enough to sustain media at its present level? Probably not. Probably, more and more people, like Andy below, will simply abandon these media outlets and go looking for what they want elsewhere, on YouTube, on Substack, on whatever new platforms spring up.

        What comes after that? I don’t know, but we will find out.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
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      I guess if that’s the kind of thing that is important to you, then RPS will have an audience. If you are much more concerned with the story, or game mechanics, or if you’ll feel the heady nostalgia of tabletop R. Talsorian, then RPS will not be the review you reach for.

      The service Sarkeesian provides is letting me know not to bother with the RPS review, because it likely is focused on details that are not high on my list. Not that trans representation is unimportant, only that it’s probably* not a detail that will make or break a game for me. For Veronica, say, it might, and I totally get why she’d find it important.

      *Unless it’s really just flat out fecking offensive, even to my hardened sensibilities, with no redeeming narrative function (such as trans rights being central to the plot).Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        I mean, I would say that there’s room for a discussion of how companies are trying to reach out towards people who aren’t cishetwhitemale, and why they’re doing it, and what the people they’re reaching for think; but that’s not a game review, that’s a Related Editorial Content thing. Like, “the game is really short, it has a lot of different storylines but they’re all pretty short” is a useful review comment. “Gamer males have toxic attitudes about social-justice issues, also there is a video game where you are a Cyber Punk” is not.Report

        • veronica d in reply to DensityDuck
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          Imagine if I made a feature length movie with major studio backing. Now imagine if the film was about how terrible white, male virgins are. Like, I really demonized them. Okay, so imagine if a film reviewer mentioned that they thought I was being pretty unfair to a lot of guys, many of whom don’t deserve to be demonized — would you object to that review? Would you say, “Get over it. It’s just a movie. I want to hear about the color palate and the grain of the film and the shot framing, not something unimportant, such as the content of the movie or what it says about real people.”

          I don’t think you would say that. Discussing the political implications of a media product is a completely normal and expected part of media reviews. The idea that video games should somehow not include these discussions is, honestly, silly.

          If I made a game called “Cruel castration simulator,” where you play a crazed dominatrix who maims and brutalizes her clients, and some reviewer mentioned that, hey, that’s kinda messed up — would you be upset that the reviewer didn’t spend more time discussing the framerate or how well it deploys ray tracing technology?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
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            That’s being uncharitable to DD.

            A reviewer should talk about what their audience is interested in. Which means if their audience is nominally interested in technical merits, and not any potential socio-political issues, then the reviewer needs to remember that, or be prepared to take heat for going off script.

            I swear people would have learned from the 80’s & 90’s that we should all have a right to Not Be Preached At. I mean, would you appreciate a review from your normal, technically competent reviewer, of CP2077 that lauded the portrayal of trans characters as being rightfully less worthy and forced to work in demeaning and possibly dangerous jobs in order to be able to afford their identity, because that’s what God intended all along?

            Or would you go find a different review, and maybe write a letter to the editor about how you don’t appreciate that?Report

            • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              I’m the audience too, and I am very interested in the broader social implication of media, and this isn’t limited to “trans stuff.” The media we consume has messages. Some of overt and obvious. However, many are implicit. Shining a light on those implicit meanings interests me a great deal.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d
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            “[S]o imagine if a film reviewer mentioned…”

            The first seven paragraphs of the document being about that subject is more than a mention.

            “[I]magine if the film was about how terrible white, male virgins are. Like…really demonized them.”

            So CP2077 is about how terrible trans people are? Like, really demonizes them?

            “If I made a game called “Cruel castration simulator,” where you play a crazed dominatrix who maims and brutalizes her clients, and some reviewer mentioned that, hey, that’s kinda messed up — would you be upset that the reviewer didn’t spend more time discussing the framerate or how well it deploys ray tracing technology?”

            interesting that testicle destruction is your go-to metaphor hereReport

          • Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d
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            Imagine if I made a feature length movie with major studio backing. Now imagine if the film was about how terrible white, male virgins are. Like, I really demonized them.

            Sure, this works as an ad absurdum, but it’s not a good analogy to the game’s alleged transgressions. If it really went out of its way to demonize trans people, that would merit the kind of criticism we’re seeing now. But it doesn’t. Nobody’s alleging that. When you have to pull out words like “commoditize” to make your point, you’re reaching.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to veronica d
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            If I made a game called “Cruel castration simulator,” where you play a crazed dominatrix who maims and brutalizes her clients, and some reviewer mentioned that, hey, that’s kinda messed up — would you be upset that the reviewer didn’t spend more time discussing the framerate or how well it deploys ray tracing technology?

            Now imagine me reviewing this game thusly:

            I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the “humiliation” dialog simulator? I mean, yeah, there’s a tutorial to make fun of the guy before you interact with him but I only did the tutorial because it was unskippable and I never called the guy a name after that.

            They also put *SO FREAKING MANY* implements into the game? Like, why would you need anything more than kitchen shears? They had seven kinds of scalpels and I don’t think I ever did more than just look at them? And they had these weird knives that were just creepy? Like more than two dozen?

            And they had an autoclave mini-game in there but I never used it?

            I don’t know why they went to so much trouble to have 15 kinds of rubber bands, either? Like, a rubber band is a rubber band?

            7/10.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        For the record, I expect CP2077 will be a fun game and I encourage people to check it out — if you like that sort of thing — regardless of its trans politics. Witcher 3 was a great game and I expect CDPR will make something cool. In any case, when it comes to the trans stuff, I’m far more interested in people being aware of the implications of what they are playing, instead of simply panning the game or whatever caricature people have of social justice politics.

        It’s like this: Trans folks real people. We exists in the world. We have thoughts and feelings and struggles, which of course everyone does, but our minority status makes it particularly tough sometimes. A little empathy is nice.

        But also…

        We are symbols. We are media constructs. We are a “divisive issue,” a political football, and object of public consumption. It kind of sucks.

        When trans people are presented in the media, I’d like for cis people to be aware that the image they are seeing is not us. However, it represents us, sometimes in a really messed up way. Simply understanding “this is not that” is worth quite a lot.

        And yes it’s a good thing that video game criticism is taking the political content of games seriously, just like every other creative medium. Would people complain if a review of To Kill a Mockingbird mentioned race? Would you be surprised if someone discussing Schindler’s List referenced some of the unfortunate politics of Germany in the 1940s? The idea that video game reviews shouldn’t discuss these things is most the childish nerdwank I’ve ever seen.

        Honestly, this is Cyberpunk — like good grief. If you google “politics in Neuromancer,” do you expect to get zero hits?

        Yeesh.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
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          I read the CBR link above, and it seems that the complaints are A) That voices are tied to gender (you can’t have a male character with a higher-pitched voice, and vice versa), and B) that gender identity has been commoditized.

          I guess A) is something of an issue, although I’d have to explore the range of pitches available to the genders. Are we talking about all males having baritones and all females are soprano? Or is there more range involved, just not the range that satisfies the reviewer?

          B) Sounds very much to be a feature of the story. The reviewer admits the setting is dystopian, not aspirational, sooooo…

          I can absolutely see a path to a world where advanced surgery and cybernetics will allow you to be anywhere on the gender spectrum, for a price. Sometimes we are served best by showing a possible reality that is not ideal, and allowing a person to inhabit that reality.

          For comparison, how many complaints were levelled at Outer Worlds for the terrible portrayal of capitalist/corporatist society? Not many? Why, because A) history, and B) it’s useful to show how the system can go bad, so perhaps people can try not to let it head that direction.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            Regarding the last paragraph, the actual answer is C) The kind of over-the-top anti-capitalist worldview that was parodied in the game is sincerely held by a big chunk of the gaming press, and most of the rest are at least mildly sympathetic to it.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            Oscar,

            Imagine a movie set in Nazi Germany that portrays Jews a beastly monsters. The creator of that film could say, “Well it’s dystopian,” but personally that would ring hollow to me. I expect many would agree.

            Imagine a similar movie that show how The Nazis regarded Jews as beastly monsters, but included Jewish characters who were fully humanized and struggled under that system. The latter movie would seem very different.

            The complaint is that CP2077 includes trans people as fetishized background decoration without actually exploring what gender variance would be like in that setting for the people who are gender variant. In other words, the developers did not explore the question you proposed, what it would be like if you could exist anywhere on the spectrum for a price. They avoided actually exploring that.

            My take: it is neither great nor terrible. To me it’s more of a “lost opportunity” than something awful. I don’t think it’s “transphobic” in any direct way, but I can understand why many trans folks are disappointed.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
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              To me it’s more of a “lost opportunity” than something awful. I don’t think it’s “transphobic” in any direct way, but I can understand why many trans folks are disappointed.

              THIS!

              Yes, it’s a lost opportunity, very much so. It’d be really cool if you could buy mods in the game that let you explore that. Maybe that will be a DLC someday (that would be an excellent DLC, actually).

              But it’s not transphobic. It’s not promoting transphobia*.

              But that is what the reviewers are saying. Which now makes me not trust the reviewer, because I think they are stirring up controversy for the clicks, or for signaling value, or whatever.

              *At least, I don’t think it is, I haven’t played it yet.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                “Lost opportunity” is a reasonable way to personally feel about this, but at this point the complaint is basically “This tangentially touches on my pet issue but does not extensively cater to my sensibilities.”

                CD Projekt is a Polish development house famous primarily for a series of games about an old white guy who bangs supermodels in between killing endangered animals. If you’re disappointed that they made a game where you can be very explicitly trans but which has zero soliloquies on the 2020 Trans Experience, your expectations were wildly miscalibrated. There was 0% chance that this was ever going to be a game that preached the Gospel of Tumblr.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg
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                I think Polish Dev House is important to keep in mind. Anybody paying attention to the dominant politics in Poland right now?Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                A lot of people discussing Cyberpunk 2077 don’t seem to be aware that the game was _promoted_ as having a trans option, and thus being trans-friendly.

                It technically has the first thing…in a not very good way, in fact, in a way that kinda reinforced stereotypes…and doesn’t really treat any other trans people with respect either.

                This isn’t reviewers just randomly coming across a feature and not thinking it goes far enough. It’s reviewers pointing out a game that actually tried to position itself as ‘trans-friendly’ isn’t that trans-friendly.

                And this is a genre you can, hypothetically, be _very_ trans-friendly, so there was a hell of a lot of hype _about_ this in the trans community. This is a game that made promises to a specific community, and utterly failed at them, and the fact the community is talking about that and warning each other away is really not that weird.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
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                That’s interesting. I don’t recall any such marketing, but admittedly I wasn’t paying that much attention to said marketing. Was there a specific promise to be trans friendly, or merely a claim that characters could be gender fluid?Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                The characters can’t really be ‘gender fluid’. Gender fluid would be the ability to change gender during the game in some way, and that’s not really possible, as far as I know.

                But anyway, not only did they promise the game was trans-friendly, they promised it as a result of an ad widely seen as transphobic:

                https://boundingintocomics.com/2019/06/14/cd-projekt-red-working-to-implement-transgender-and-non-binary-character-options-in-cyberpunk-2077/

                Incidentally, as I mentioned below, I didn’t think much of this criticism at the time: I thought ‘That is out of proportion, cyberpunk is supposed to do that sort of thing. It’s a shitty universe.’

                That…turns out to have been wildly optimistic on my part. And basically a lot of people. There was a lot of people, back then, including those in the trans community, saying ‘Wait! We don’t know what this game is actually saying about this. It’s cyberpunk, and no real mainstream cyberpunk game has actually delved into transness.’

                And the studio just sorta nodded along, talking vaguely exciting character customization things. And it turns out, what the game is saying is…nothing. Literally nothing.

                Hell, they didn’t even do the ‘nonbinary’ option at all, or at least didn’t really do any of the things that would logically make sense there, like allow ‘they’ pronouns. And their ‘trans’ options appear to literally be two things:

                1) Can select different bodies from your voice, and your voice defines the pronouns over people use. (Ah, good ole trans people again, none of them have voices that do not match their gender or their body shape.)

                2) Can put different genitalia on different bodies (That’s trans people for you, always wanting everyone to talk about their genitalia.)

                That’s it. That’s apparently all they did. It’s literally just removing a single constraint by allowing a male body with a female voice (and pronouns) or vis versa…plus, as an added bonus, a bunch of…weird sexualized shit that really doesn’t seem to be needed in a AAA game? Why am I caring about my character’s penis or lack thereof?

                Of course, the weird sexualized shit was sorta already there, they just removed any body constraints on that, also.

                I’ve seen _mods on Fallout_ that did this. Hell, I’ve seen mods that did more.

                Now, the devs were always extremely cagey about their trans stuff, and is it possible the trans community, in a way, hyped itself up, with actual expectations that a genre games about transhumanism and body modification might actually have something useful to say about trans people, despite evidence to the contrary?

                I guess?

                But regardless, there was a hell of a lot of hype about that. And also a bunch of realists pointing that ‘The poster shows they have no idea what they are doing.’. But conflicting hype is even more hype.

                And then…nothing. Like, in Cyberpunk’s universe, the only useful comment on transness is ‘what is in people’s pants’.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll repeat something I said elsewhere.

                AFAIK, CDPR is a Polish company, in Poland, and has to exist in Poland.

                Is anyone paying attention to the socio-political landscape in Poland as of late?

                This might actually be the best they could do and not suffer repercussions at home.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I was going to give a link to the Vortex page for the Witcher 3 mods but there were a lot of, ahem, body modification mods on the “most popular” page and this is a family blog.

                THAT SAID!

                I am confident that even six months hence will give us a number of mods for ourselves and NPCs (and god knows what else) that will allow for all sorts of cyberpunk desires to come to fruition.

                Even better than the real thing.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Mods are often community created, are they not? The kind of thing a game studio allows, but does not necessarily create, right?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                For the most part, yes.

                But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were under-the-table collaborations between studios and the community. (There sure as hell are studios turning a blind eye to liberal use of IP. See, for example, the Geralt mod that allows you to customize his plumbing. (Warning: Not only not work-safe, it’ll result in gossip.))Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m fairly sure that one of the first mods will be to decouple ‘the pronouns that people use to refer to you as’ from ‘the voice you are using’, because that is a development choice that literally makes no sense.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I have only played for a few hours but I don’t know that I’ve encountered overhearing anyone talk about me.

                People talk to me and they say “you need to X” or “you shouldn’t X” or whathaveyou.

                They don’t do the “he’s in the next room, he’s going to come in here and speed through conversations before initiating combat!” thing. YET.

                I am trying to keep my ears open for that. (It’s possible that I may have missed an example of it… but the conversations that I overhear are either people talking to each other about their own topics or talking to me directly and my pronouns have not been used. I will continue to keep my ears open.)Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I think ‘company operating in transphobic and homophobic location is forced to be transphobia’ is a much less obvious conclusion than ‘company operating in transphobic and homophobic location does some rather transphobic things because they don’t have an understanding of any of the issues and didn’t bother to do any research or even ask any trans people’.

                Like, yeah, I know what’s going on in Poland…and I think it contributed to this…but I don’t think it was any sort of deliberate thing!

                Also, that’s weird moral calculus: The company assuming that transphobes will spend the time and effort looking at the criticisms by trans people of this game, read them, and say ‘Hmm. This game pretends to be inclusive of trans people while doing a disservice to trans people due to various tone-deaf things and a lack of criticism of commoditizing trans bodies! As a transphobe, I like this and will buy this game!’

                Or do you mean, in a legal sense? Like, if there was some actual law here, I’m pretty sure just having a game that allows a trans protagonist would break it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                And you are imposing American sensibilities associated with a minority community onto a game built in a country that leans hard right.

                It is entirely possible these folks truly thought they were being as inclusive as possible given the dystopian setting, and because they aren’t in the US, they fell short.

                It’s a swing and a miss.

                As for the marketing, hasn’t marketing over-selling software features been an issue since day 0?

                You know, I have no real dog in this fight. I don’t own the game, and probably won’t for a while (lots of other games I have to finish first), and I couldn’t care less about the fortunes of CDPR.

                What irks me is people attributing malice to what can be explained by ignorance.

                If you, or anyone else thinks CDPR fell short on a hyped up feature of the game, then by all means, don’t buy it or demand a refund. And reviewers absolutely should tell everyone that they hyped up character creation falls short of the promise.

                But don’t sell it as promoting transphobia because the game didn’t deliver a feature you wanted. It damages credibility.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                And you are imposing American sensibilities associated with a minority community onto a game built in a country that leans hard right.

                I kinda wonder how this works if this is anything else. If an Egyptian company sold a AAA antisemitic game in the US, do we just nod and go ‘Well, that’s how it is in Egypt?’

                What irks me is people attributing malice to what can be explained by ignorance.

                Transphobia, just like homophobia or racism or antisemitism or sexism, does not have to be malicious. It can just be repeating malicious things people don’t know are malicious. It can even be good-faith misunderstandings.

                And this isn’t some random person, this is a company that already got criticized for being transphobic a year ago, and the year before that…and…didn’t bother to do the slightest bit of research to correct anything. When you get called out and respond with ‘No, we’re not, in fact, we think [minority group] will be very happy at how we treat them in the next game’, you need to go and find a member of that group and run things past them!

                But don’t sell it as promoting transphobia because the game didn’t deliver a feature you wanted. It damages credibility.

                It’s not that a feature is missing, it’s that the partial implementation of the feature a) strongly cares about the genitalia, and b) strongly care about voice, and c) reinforces the gender binary.

                And I’m finding a lot of cis people aren’t really quite following what’s going on here, because they don’t really understand those specific things are transphobic. And, honestly, I don’t really care to really explain this more. Hell, I only came out as nonbinary _here_ like two weeks ago, and don’t want to become ‘trans expert #2’.

                But let me say: The actual character creation system is transphobic in and of itself. Or, at least, _presenting_ that system as ‘trans-friendly’ is transphobic. Because it implies that is what being trans is…that gender is how you sound, what is in your pants is also important, and that’s basically it.

                Now, this is all somewhat minor, and honestly what would be expected from a bunch of people who don’t interact with trans people. But…it’s still there. And the rest of the game, and CDPR’s behavior, doesn’t help. And, this is almost certainly lack of knowledge, not malicious. But…that’s almost always how it works.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                We don’t understand such things are transphobic because they do not fit the definition of transphobia.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transphobia.

                Ergo, no, those things are not transphobic absent other evidence. Presenting a half-assed system as trans-friendly is not transphobic, it’s just project management and/or marketing being ignorant or over-selling.

                You want to sell me on the idea that it’s transphobic, I need to see that negativity. I don’t see that. I see people trying and failing, because, as you say, they couldn’t be bothered to talk to a trans person.*

                What you are saying, to me, quite clearly, is this game missed the boat on something that they said they got right, and marketed to you that they got right, and now you’re annoyed about it.

                And hey, you should be!

                But if you want to make the claim for transphobic, you need to draw the line from what they did to how it actually fits the commonly accepted definition of transphobic.

                *Now, if the person at CDPR who was supposed to go talk to trans-persons and figure out what they wanted, was trans-phobic, and either didn’t bother to talk to the demographic, or colored their reports with their transphobia, then we’d have a good faith effort damaged by transphobia.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Me: ‘It’s not that a feature is missing, it’s that the partial implementation of the feature a) strongly cares about the genitalia, and b) strongly care about voice, and c) reinforces the gender binary.’

                You point to Wikipedia page that says: ‘Transgender author and critic Jody Norton believes that transphobia is an extension of homophobia and misogyny. She argues that transgender people, like gays and lesbians, are hated and feared for challenging and undermining gender norms and the gender binary.’

                So there’s (c) right there. Things that attempt to enforce a binary gender are transphobic, in fact, one of the claimed origins for transphobia is demanding adherence to the gender binary.

                As for (b), deliberately misgendering someone based off their voice is transphobic, and it happens in reality all the time.

                This is the problem with the game being ‘trans-friendly’. Other games, for example Fallout 4, genders people based on body/voice, which are tied together, but it’s not _misgendering_ anyone…the only characters it allows you to create are cis implicitly. You can sorta roleplay them as trans or nonbinary if you want, but, technically speaking, the game doesn’t allow for trans characters, and thus the characters are always gendered correctly.

                But Cyberpunk does allow trans characters, or at least very publically said it did. So transmasc AFAB people can go and try to make a character that matches them, with a feminine body and feminine voice, and…they get misgendered as female.

                If you claim something allows trans characters, you have to, _at bare minimum_, not tie gender to an aspect of their body There are plenty of games that _just_ do that…pronouns are a separate selection, and done. But this one couldn’t manage it! It said ‘gender is the same as this physical aspect’, and that is transphobic. (Even if the aspect is voice instead of genitalia.)

                As for the genitalia, that’s a little more complicated…let’s just quote Planned Parenthood about what not to do to trans people: “Don’t ask personal questions about a transgender person’s genitals, surgery, or sex life.” -https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/gender-identity/transgender/whats-transphobia

                The genitalia focus on trans people is a microaggression…it’s a question and fascination that trans people get near continuously. That they constantly have to deal with.

                But…that’s admittedly is not what’s going on here, a body is being built for a character, and that question seemed a legitimate question in that process if that is going to be part of the story. So in the abstract, it would seem okay.

                However, you only can really customize _that_, and not any other things that make sense for trans people. For example, the female body is required to have breasts, you can’t make a somewhat slim body for men, or do any sort of the many ways that trans people are, just that one particular thing.

                It’s an extremely gendered setup in character creation. That’s the only part of the game I could get into, but I was astonished when I did. Seriously, the Sims is less gendered. I couldn’t find my real-life hairstyle of a simple _ponytail_ for the male body….but it existed for the female. The hell?

                So, the game having genitalia config isn’t itself transphobic (Unlike the voice/gender lock), but the fact the programmers thought this was the most important thing to put in the game to appeal to trans people betrays their viewpoint of thinking this is one of the most important things about trans people.

                I see people trying and failing, because, as you say, they couldn’t be bothered to talk to a trans person.

                If you don’t understand how ‘trying and failing’ is worse than ‘not trying’, I suggest you imagine two movies made in 1980s: One that is entirely white people, and one that has racist caricature of Black people as villains?

                Would you say ‘Oh they tried and failed, it’s better than that movie that didn’t have them at all!’, or would you say ‘Maybe they should not try this until they can be less racist about it.’Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                And I’m finding a lot of cis people aren’t really quite following what’s going on here, because they don’t really understand those specific things are transphobic.

                Notice how the definition of transphobic starts by talking about negative feelings and actions? Because that is what people think of when you say transphobic. They don’t duck down to the academic definition.

                The thing about transphobia is that it’s a lot like homophobia in the public consciousness, and thus it’s a term with baggage that you seem to want to ignore, because you want to use it a specific way. And even if your use is correct to a degree (more on that in a minute), using that term means you have to deal with the baggage.

                Calling something homophobic or transphobic implies a strong negative intent on the part of a person, just like calling something racist does. We even have a way of dealing with the baggage of ‘racist’, by using ‘structural racism’.

                Now, back to the original complaint of misgendering.

                Yes, intentionally misgendering a trans person IS transphobia. Not arguing that point.

                But is the game intentionally misgendering a trans character because they want to be nasty to trans players, or is it because development didn’t put in that logic and marketing was clueless? I guess one way is to see how the game treats it’s own trans characters? Do you have a trans NPC that clearly IDs as female, but everyone uses male pronouns? Or do just game antagonists (but the ‘friends’ of the NPC use the correct pronouns)? I have no idea, I haven’t played the game yet. I don’t even know if such a thing is in the game. I mean, is the game doing something to intentionally show that it wants to misgender trans characters, or was it just never really considered by the dev team because no one made that JIRA?

                But in the end, you are complaining not about an intentional (AFAICT) misgendering, but a missed bit of game logic that is centered around your character, that is created in a very limited character tool (should we be angry that Jaybird can’t make a Corp that looks like him?).

                So the intent here matters, to me, to A LOT of people who are not part of the trans community. Do you want to be able to reach out to those people and bring them around as allies? Then you need to meet them where they are, and keep in mind that for them, transphobia includes intent.

                This is why I think Veronica has it right, it is absolutely a missed opportunity, and I do think CDPR owes the trans community a public apology for marketing themselves as trans friendly and missing an obvious element of it (gendering and pronouns). Despite my question of Polish social-political landscape, I do think CDPR has enough of a global presence that they should not have missed this, especially given how often the games was delayed.

                But transphobia it ain’t, and I think insisting on it being so is going to do more harm than good. A company can have good intentions and still drop the ball. Call them on it, loudly if you can. Give them the opportunity to make good on it, or at least apologize.

                This is my last comment on this. If you feel the need to reply, be my guest, but my mind is fixed on this.

                PS Your movie analogy is hot BS. Try again.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                But in the end, you are complaining not about an intentional (AFAICT) misgendering, but a missed bit of game logic that is centered around your character, that is created in a very limited character tool (should we be angry that Jaybird can’t make a Corp that looks like him?).

                So here’s the question I think you’re not quite asking yourself: Why should we believe that people aren’t ‘intentionally’ discriminating because they refuse correct their behavior after people telling them about the problem?

                If someone thinks that ‘boy’ is an endearing way to refer to Black men, and is told not to do that, and keep doing that with the justification that’s what he’s always done…would you argue he isn’t being ‘intentional’?

                CDPR was told about the problem here months ago, even before review copies came out, because they were so incredibly proud of their character creator they let people have videos of it, and people noticed the ‘voice will determine pronouns’ message. And…the trans commuity really complained, back then.

                They haven’t even admitted there is a problem.

                Like, what EXACTLY is the threshold of ‘you need to know these things’?

                I mean, I’m all for allowing some sort of understanding with individuals, but a company that has been called out for transphobia in the past and is explicitly is trying to defend themselves against those charges probably is required to do some slight amount of research at the start.

                And that slight amount of research would have told them the premise of trans people is literally that ‘gender is not determined by physical attributes’. And they built a system where it was set by physical attributes and, thus, trans player character could be misgendered.

                This is ‘We’re not racist, why do you say that? Our next game will specifically allow Black main characters and if you create one, they will get some special content in the form of a watermelon-eating contest!’ levels of stupidity…and then continuing forward with that after people said ‘WTF?’

                So the intent here matters, to me, to A LOT of people who are not part of the trans community. Do you want to be able to reach out to those people and bring them around as allies? Then you need to meet them where they are, and keep in mind that for them, transphobia includes intent.

                There is some intent here I really wish you would question: Why you think you need to defend this?

                You’re having some nonsensical ‘This can’t really be transphobic’ reaction. This is the privileged reaction of leaping to the defense of anyone ‘like you’ that gets criticized.

                What exactly is the threshold here for companies depicting minority groups, having minority groups complain about what they have realized their depiction is going to be, and the company going ahead with it? Where is the ‘intent’ level in this?

                Companies are not individuals. They do not have mens rea, they don’t have thoughts in their head where they decide to do things. Companies don’t, in the philosophical sense, have intent at all. They are a collective system that produces some sort of output.

                Someone in that system decided not to fix this. We can’t really say where that happened or who did it or why that happened. What we can say is that the system was informed about the concerns, and someone in the system decided to move forward regardless.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Have you ever actually worked in a corporate software development environment? Because I do, and have for close to a decade now.

                The fact that a company was told there was an issue, even if the company accepts that it is an issue, does not mean that said issue will be fixed right away. The development team obviously has a whole pallet full of problems that are much, much higher priority than fixing an issue that will satisfy a very small demographic of the market.

                So the ‘intent’, such as it is, is due to triage. Your concerns have very likely been triaged to the bottom of the queue. You don’t get to tell them they need to reprioritize. The customer is not always right.

                As Jaybird says, that is not an act of violence.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                The fact that a company was told there was an issue, even if the company accepts that it is an issue, does not mean that said issue will be fixed right away.

                Did you notice my ‘They haven’t even admitted there is a problem.’?

                It would be one thing if they said something like ‘We understand this is an issue, and are trying to fix it, but it may take a while’.

                They haven’t said that.

                In fact, they haven’t responded to that at all.

                As Jaybird says, that is not an act of violence.

                Have I, at any point, categorized this as an act of violence?

                You do realize the ‘act of violence’ in headline refers to mysterious ‘Gamers’, but is literally not mentioned or justified in the article, right? It’s a dumb sensational headline talking about how unnamed ‘other people’ are saying things.

                In fact, the article makes four claims, helpfully categorized:

                Cyberpunk 2077’s Character Creation is Transphobic
                Cyberpunk 2077 Fetishizes Trans Bodies, but Hides Trans People
                Cyberpunk 2077’s Trans Critics are Treated as Pariahs By Cyberpunk 2077’s Developers
                CD Projekt Red Has a History of Cozying Up With Transphobia

                Thos are the four _actual_ claims in the article, nothing about it being an act of violence, or even citing anyone calling it that.

                So what you’re basically doing is pretending that people saying it’s transphobic are _also_ calling it an act of violence (With literally no evience anyone is doing that.) and then using that hypothetical wrongness to dismiss the claim it’s transphobic.

                Weirdly, I _have_ seem people make claims sorta in this vein, that Cyberpunk 2077, is committed violence, but all those were about the seizure-inducing stuff.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Again, big pile of fundamental steaming shite over here, your issue over there. Despite some game reviews making it a concern, I doubt the employees at CDPR are even vaguely aware of your concern.

                This is like complaining that you got mis-gendered while everyone is running out of burning building.

                As for act of violence, call it a bad metaphor for calling things transphobic.

                Again, I refuse to ascribe to malice what can be attributed to ignorance or incompetence. But you go right ahead and do that, just don’t start whining when the general population begins treating such claims as reactionary and discounts them.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “[T]he weird sexualized shit was sorta already there…”

                Classic American. I can depict a woman being shot twelve times in slow motion so long as she doesn’t take her shirt off first.

                “[I[n Cyberpunk’s universe, the only useful comment on transness is ‘what is in people’s pants’.”

                I think there is indeed an article to be written about character-model customization in video games and its relation to the concept of the constructed self, but A) that’s not review content, that’s editorial content, and B) it’s not what they were on about in the review anyway.

                Like, the review should be nothing more than “despite a lot of buzz about the ability to customize your character it turns out to be the same old toggle-to-pick-A-or-B, slider-to-control-size we’re used to.” The editorial can be “Video gaming culture developed as an offshoot from the culture of computing in the Eighties and mid-Nineties, which was almost exclusively straight younger males, and because of that it’s often had a difficult time showing sensitivity towards different concepts of existence. One of these ways is that your in-game avatar will have extremely cishet characteristics; men are beefy bricks, women have emphatic curves. But as games become more sophisticated–or maybe just bigger–there has been the promise of more subtle graduations in the player’s presentation to the virtual world they inhabit. And it suggests that players can use these spaces and capabilities to explore different identities and bodies than the ones they were born with. Unfortunately, this potential often goes unrealized; we’ll take the recent release of CDPR’s Cyberpunk 2077 as an example…”Report

              • DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Classic American. I can depict a woman being shot twelve times in slow motion so long as she doesn’t take her shirt off first.

                Tell me, when creating a male character, do you often care if they’re circumcised or not? The size of their penis? Talking about the exact details of a fictional character’s genitalia does, indeed, get a little into fetish territory!

                Especially when, for example, you can’t make male character with a pony tail.

                There’s a difference between complaining ‘sex in a game is bad!’ and saying ‘I am trying to play a video game, not cast a porno’.

                Note, despite the game having this, you can just not do it. Your character can just…wear (lower body) underwear at all times. That’s an option. In fact, it’s the default.

                So…doesn’t seem like an important part of game design, being totally optional like that.

                Weirdly, it seems there’s no option to never go topless if a woman? (I say ‘weirdly’, like I don’t understand what’s going on.) Like, maybe there is somewhere, but in the character creator when I first selected ‘female’, it was just ‘Here is a topless woman’, just right there.

                Like, the review should be nothing more than “despite a lot of buzz about the ability to customize your character it turns out to be the same old toggle-to-pick-A-or-B, slider-to-control-size we’re used to.” The editorial can be “Video gaming culture developed as an offshoot from the culture of computing in the Eighties and mid-Nineties, which was almost exclusively straight younger males, and because of that it’s often had a difficult time showing sensitivity towards different concepts of existence.

                Well, you’re in luck! While that article is _labeled_ ‘Review’, that’s just how Polygon labels all articles about specific games. Polygon doesn’t really do ‘game reviews’ anymore…or at least, not attempting to score games as any sort of subjective system. They just let their writers _write_ anything they want about them, including personal opinions.

                Aka, editorialize.

                And that specific article is one of dozens of articles classified as ‘News, analysis, and critique of CD Projekt Red’s futuristic open-world game’. That article chose to focus specifically on trans issues, and the writer was probably specifically asked to write on those issues because she’s trans.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Edit: This was actually supposed to be a reply to DavidTC, but for some reason none of the max-depth comments had a Reply link until after I submitted the comment and refreshed.

                And the studio just sorta nodded along, talking vaguely exciting character customization things. And it turns out, what the game is saying is…nothing. Literally nothing.

                There’s this one poster out there, presenting a trans model in an advertisement, in a manner similar to the way straight men and women are portrayed in advertisements all the time, in a society which is clearly portrayed as a dystopia. The complaint is there’s no Galtesque sermon to explicitly tell us how to feel about this one specific element of the game? That, in fact, there is one, but it’s in an interview with the person who designed the poster, and not in the game?

                Is there supposed to be an explicit lecture on every dystopic aspect of the society depicted? Is it really demanding too much from the players to expect them to draw these conclusions on their own

                Maybe they’ve just assumed too much intelligence and good faith on the part of a certain segment of their potential audience. That’s not a mistake I personally would have made, based on past experience, but I suppose it’s understandable for non-Americans.

                It also sounds like they more or less delivered on the promises made in the article you linked. The character creator, from what I’ve heard, does allow you to mix and match male and female characteristics.

                Having other people assume your gender based on your voice actually makes a lot of sense. For one, people with whom you’re interacting casually aren’t going to ask you for your pronouns. That aside, it’s 20-fishing-77 and complex body modifications are commonplace. Feminizing and masculinizing voices are solved problems, and people who want to present as one gender or the other have the procedure done.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Hm.. My long reply got lost. Here:

                The complaint is there’s no Galtesque sermon to explicitly tell us how to feel about this one specific element of the game? That, in fact, there is one, but it’s in an interview with the person who designed the poster, and not in the game?

                So people can commodify trans bodies to sell games _as long as_ they admit that’s a bad thing to do?

                The character creator, from what I’ve heard, does allow you to mix and match male and female characteristics.

                No, it doesn’t. Not in any way at all besides genitalia and voice. They were simply lying.

                Having other people assume your gender based on your voice actually makes a lot of sense.

                Why are you fanwanking to justifiy why a game you haven’t even played isn’t transphobic?

                That’s not what the character creator says, it just says ‘Other characters with refer to you with [female/male] pronouns’ when you pick a voice. There’s no evidence that people have to hear you speak before they pick a pronoun.Report

              • Damon in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, that was a “f-ton” of time I’m not getting back. You guys are way down the rabbit hole on this…and there’s a lot of PROJECTION going on too.

                I guarantee that that of the people complaining about this game, 99.9999999 percent are complaining about the bugs, glitches, etc., not weather or not it’s transphobic. If you object so much, why don’t you ask for a refund and be done? You’re not going to change the actions of a foreign game designer from america.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                DavidTC, having had a little less than a week, my take is now something closer to:

                Are you disappointed? That’s reasonable. There were a lot of things that the game promised but didn’t deliver. I remember, way back when, that you were supposed to be in a multi-lingual city and, at first, you wouldn’t have any implants. So you’d just hear people speaking Japanese as you walked around. Then you could get a cheap implant that would turn the language into Engrish in real time (which would be funny and confusing and provide one of the plot tokens you needed to move on in the game). And then you could buy an expensive implant that would turn the language into English. How immersive is that?!? Well, that’s not in the game. The deep character creation ain’t in the game. The driving AI ain’t in the game. There’s so much stuff that just ain’t in the game. The game is a disappointment on a lot of levels. (It’s got a handful of areas that hit it out of the park… but those may not be the main focus of a lot of people.)

                The game isn’t an act of violence, though.

                If you’re arguing that you were hoping for a lot more and that you feel lied to? Hey, absolutely.

                The game isn’t an act of violence, though.

                Did the developers pull a lot of shady sleight of hand to make sales based off of their reputation knowing that they’d burn all of the good will people had built up? Yep, they sure did.

                The game isn’t an act of violence, though.

                I am someone who loves the game. The review that said “it’s dad rock, not punk rock” got it right. The game is dad rock, not punk rock.

                Luckily for me, I’m 100% square in the demographic that would prefer Eddie Money to Machine Gun Kelly.

                And if you’d prefer Machine Gun Kelly to Eddie Money, that’s 100% perfectly understandable. I can totally see how that’s what someone would prefer.

                The game isn’t an act of violence, though.Report

              • Andy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                There are still some multilingual convos that do get translated in the subtitles. It’s a nice touch but yeah, a translator mod would have been very cool.

                To tag onto your comments, I think this game is very good, but it is still filled with a ton of missed opportunities, a failure to meet expectations (which are not entirely CDPR’s fault – many people overhyped this game) and most important, technical problems that make the entire game unplayable for many people.

                In an alternate world where the game was stable, actually worked on all the platforms it was designed for, and had all the content promised (it’s increasingly clear a lot of stuff was cut from development or shortened), I think the criticism that they failed to live up to promises about trans representation is perfectly reasonable. But we’re currently in a different world where the game is failing on a more fundamental level. It doesn’t live up to that promise and the unfortunate reality is that it doesn’t live up to a host of promises including fundamental promises about the ability to run and be playable on platforms that millions of players use. It seems pretty clear that trans representation wasn’t dropped or fully implemented because of some kind of hatred or bias against trans people, but because that concern was trumped by other, bigger problems with the game.

                So it’s hard for me to argue that more development time should have been put better trans representation in the game as opposed to making the game function correctly on consoles, making the life-paths more meaningful, technical glitches, better AI, or any number of other issues that are affecting millions of players and/or the core elements of the game.

                Additionally, after almost 40 hours of playtime, I’ve found that identity just isn’t an important factor in the game generally. The only place where gender matters at all are for romances, which are entirely optional and, as I’ve discovered, are extremely limited in terms of choice anyway. I think a lot of people won’t be happy with the romance options. Won’t go into details because, spoilers.

                But other than that, no one in the game world cares about your character’s identity. Even the life-paths have turned out to be really only about an occasional dialog option and don’t matter for anything else that I’ve seen as of yet.

                So a lot of it is like old-school roleplaying where I have to use my imagination and determine for myself what my (nomad) character is like and choose options and actions that make sense for the character from whatever limited choices the game gives me.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Andy
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, as I play more and more, I realize that its spiritual ancestry is as much Red Dead Redemption 2 as it is Neuromancer.

                There are games that come along that make me say “EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD NEEDS TO PLAY THIS GAME” and those games are few and far between and this is not one of those games.

                But I love the game. The game hits the sweet spot for me. (But I totally can see how someone else might hate it. Not merely just not like it… but, like, *HATE* it. And you can’t argue matters of taste.)Report

              • Andy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I love the game too despite its flaws, and I think it has a lot of potential for future growth.

                CDPR is getting a much-deserved smackdown for their stupid dishonesty, but I’m hoping they learn the right lessons from this and the DLC will be at the standard that people expect from them.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Why….are you trying to reassure me the game isn’t an act of violence? When did I imply I thought it was?

                I said a certain part of it, which was explicitly claimed to be trans-friendly, was in fact transphobic.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, the term “act of violence” has been thrown around about this game (I linked to one of them in the OP).

                My disagreements with your take would be “this game is a disappointment, a missed opportunity, and so on but this game doesn’t indicate at least one kind of phobia”.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I somehow think you don’t actually understand that the problem isn’t ‘part of the game is missing’. I don’t really understand how, but…I’ll explain from another direction:

                The problem is not the game not fully implementing something. The problem is what the game _does_ do.

                Trans people would have literally no problem with this game if it did _less_. If the bodies were locked to the genitalia were locked to voice were locked to the pronouns. And they had said ‘We did not have time to add trans support’.

                Because this is literally how almost every video game ever made until recently worked. Everyone is implicitly cis. Plenty still do that.

                If they had done that, everything would be fine.

                The problem is not ‘Did not get what was promised’, the problem is ‘The depiction of trans people in the character creator is offensive and perpetuates harmful stereotypes by tying the gender of people we have explicitly been told are trans to their physical attributes.’.

                Complete lack of representation is better than representation that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, I say ‘literally no problem’…the ‘using trans bodies to sell the game while claiming to make a critique of that, a critique which doesn’t really exist’ would still be a problem independent of that, too.

                But that’s not even really a ‘game’ thing, that stuff that happened outside the game. If the posters had just existed in the game and not used as real-world advertising, trans people would have noticed them next to a bunch of other hypersexualized posters…and probably shrugged, and kept going.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Trans people would have literally no problem with this game if it did _less_.

                While I am always delighted to find circumstances under which we can speak about a group as a whole, I’m surprised to find that it applies to a pop culture phenomenon where gender would be involved, even tangentially. “Pull the other one”, I want to say.

                As it is, they locked the pronouns to the voice rather than to the plumbing.

                Now, does this strike me as avoidable as heck? Sure! They should have said “pick your prounouns!” and had you pick he/him or she/her and left the they/them people talking about lack of representation in video games.

                Pick your pronouns.
                Pick your voice actor.
                Pick your plumbing.

                This would have been the best way to do it and the fact that they didn’t do it sucks.

                I have high hopes that this will be fixed in upcoming mods. It can’t be that difficult, after all. I’m still not sure that I’ve overheard anyone speaking about me in the third person… and, as such, the only pronouns I’ve seen apply to me are “I/me” (when I am using them) and “you/you” (when anybody else in the game is using them).

                And while I am more than happy enough to agree that this sucks and shouldn’t be the way that it is, I’m not going to hop over to how this particular grievance deserves a special condemnation above and beyond the dozen of other condemnations the game deserves.

                I agree that it sucks.
                Hell, I’m sorry that feel you’ve been harmed by how the game treats gender in such a way that you find offensive and perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
                I agree that it’s bad.
                I just don’t agree that it’s a special kind of bad.

                The best I can tell you is that the game is likely to have this particular game flaw fixed by the modding community (that’s if you still want to play it, of course) and, if you’re not, this game seems very likely to do to CD Projekt what Mass Effect 3 did to Bioware (hurray, cosmic justice).

                If you feel like you shouldn’t *HAVE* to use mods to make the game playable, lemme tell ya: There’s a support group for that. It’s called “Everybody”.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      See Orwell on this topic: https://orwell.ru/library/articles/reviewer/english/e_bkrev

      Most people read reviews to see if the game, book, or movie is worth their time. People who have to play a lot of games, read a lot of books, see many movies, etc. generally start approaching this from a different and more abstract perspective. Whether a game is good or not seems too limiting.Report

  3. Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    “Anita Sarkeesian points out that Rock Paper Shotgun devotes the first seven paragraphs of its review to discussions about Trans representation:”

    Wow…something I care about ZERO for. But hey, if your enjoyment of fantasy video games requires that the character creation section have a permutation for every sexual/racial/religious/size/height/etc. option, you do you. But you’ll be disappointed–because you’ll never be happy….and that’s probably the purpose of all your drama….YOU WANT to be angry.

    I’ve played male and female characters in games, mostly for novelty and being bored with the 3rd person view of “the male butt”, but my enjoyment of the game wasn’t effected significantly. If yours is…maybe you should work on getting used to being perpetually disappointed.

    That being said…I just downloaded the game and I’m looking forward to playing it…even with all the bugs. And yes, I will be comparing it to Witcher 3 and probably Dues Ex. Waiting to be impressed.Report

  4. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    How many gamers are jealous that it is not their own little treehouse anymore but a multi-billion dollar industry that attracts a whole range of people with different life experiences, levels of commitment to gaming, and desires in what makes a game good or not?

    When I was in college, I knew a guy who was a completist. If he felt like he missed something even if it was the smallest miniquest, he would just start over. This was in the days when doubling back was very hard to impossible. I thought this was nuts but he did not seem to mind.

    For some people, the perceived transphobia is going to ruin it from being a good game. Maybe other people can look over the seemingly ham-fisted attempt at inclusion or being “edgy.” As to something telling you whether the game is good or not, the Orwell essay Lee posted gets to the heart of it.

    But it seems like there is still a class of mainly older, mainly white, mainly male, mainly heterosexual kind of gamer that really dislike the discussions on transphobia or not because it knocks down the tree house door and potentially “robs” them of all their former little injokes and references. The gaming world is bigger now and gamers are no longer loser dorks but this comes with scrutiny over things that used to be ignored or get a pass like scantily-clad female protagonists or things which might be more borderline pornographic.

    The Dad Rock charge stings because it has an element of truth. The critics see the way trans characters were “included” as being more about titilation for some Gen X dude. Why is it necessary to choose the size and shape of a characters genitals? Who thought that would be a good idea? I can practically hear a horny adolescent boy giggling at making that an option. This might sound prudish but in one of your links, there was an example of some game art that was a poster of an alt-looking woman in a one-piece swimsuit with breasts and a large erect penis underneath her swimsuit. Why was this thought to be put in the game? It seems like pornographic titilation was the most likely option. If the poster is part of an important plot point, I will take those facts into consideration.Report

    • Ozzzy! in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      ugh, the “mainly older, mainly white, mainly…”, ah duck it I would give up if I have to type that many ‘enhances’, dogwhistles. You should give up that too Saul.

      For the new year don’t caveat the hell out of what you are saying. It’s, how do the gamers say, weaksauce before you even make your point.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Ozzzy!
        Ignored
        says:

        I am a 40-year old, white enough (as much as Jews count or do not count for white), cis, heterosexual male but my experience is that a lot of white guys born between 1965 and 1970 something are among core Trump support and the likely gamergaters.Report

        • Hei Lun Chan in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          You think gamergaters are people who are 50-55 years old? That seems … not the age of people who are very online and who participate in gamer forums.Report

        • Ozzzy! in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          “my experience is that a lot of white guys born between 1965 and 1970 something are among core [INSERT NOUN(S)] support and the likely [INSERT OTHER NOUN(S)]”

          Edited for clarity?Report

        • Andy in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          Interesting. I’m in the middle of that demographic (born 1968) and only know a handful of Trump supporters among my cohort. Very few of us are gamers and I’d be surprised if even 1% had even heard the term gamergate.

          The vast majority are primarily concerned about the kinds of things that most people in middle age are concerned about – spouses, kids, work, getting older, etc. The notion that people in this narrow age range spend any time in misogynistic 4chan gaming circles is kind of laughable actually.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      Saul, here’s one of the theories of gender in Cyberpunk: Genitals are an accessory. Like a watch. You can switch them around as suits your mood. Would you like to be bepenised today? Here’s your crotch. Want to explore concavity instead? Swap it out!

      Hell, here’s a slider for your torso! Would you like boobs today? How much jiggle would you like in your boobs?

      Your body is yours, it’s yours to play with, it’s yours to change, it’s yours to experiment with. Do whatever you want with it.

      Just pay up front.

      Now, if the game art you’re thinking of is the game art that I am thinking of, the game art was art that was part of an in-universe ad for an in-universe product. I don’t know that it was for Coca-Cola but let’s pretend that it was.

      BUY COCA-COLA! HERE IS A SEXY PERSON IN A STATE OF SEXUAL AROUSAL! THEY ARE AROUSED BY OUR PRODUCT! DRINK OUR PRODUCT! AROUSE OTHERS!

      Now, you may say “that’s kind of gross that their Cyberpunk universe includes Transpeople as sexual objects used to sell a product” but it’s a Cyberpunk universe that uses sex to sell products.

      The other day, the twitters had a lovely set of threads devoted to the so-called “classics” that had bad things happen in them. Complaints about the racism in Huck Finn, the incest in Wuthering Heights, the stalking in Great Gatsby… all of these books were given as examples of morally compromised so-called “classics”.

      Some people disagreed and wanted to argue that the depiction of an event is not, you know, enthusiasm for the points of view of the people engaging in the acts.

      Anyway, the debate goes on. (Say what you will about YA fiction, but the good guys are usually pretty obviously good and the bad guys are usually pretty obviously bad.)

      Some people, like the people inclined to defend Huck Finn against charges of racism, might look at Cyberpunk 2077’s in-universe ads and say “oh, it’s a criticism of advertising and talking about how a cyberpunk dystopia has a lot of dys- that seeps into every corner of the topia. Even the ads.”

      Is it an important plot point? Nah. It’s probably nothing more than flavor. Yet another corner of the universe that is using sex to sell something. Something so ubiquitous that the people in-universe don’t even notice it. It’s just another ad selling just another product to just another consumer using just another gender in a state of arousal.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I think it’s more than mere flavor, in that it sets some of the bounds of the dystopia. Gender identity IS an accessory. That says something about how that society views gender identity, and what that view implies.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          You can see the Priapic Poster in the background of the youtube video. I imagine the video has spoilers galore so watch at your own risk but the video is paused at a moment where you can see it in the background so you’ll still come away mostly unscathed if you just look at the shot and don’t press play.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Now, you may say “that’s kind of gross that their Cyberpunk universe includes Transpeople as sexual objects used to sell a product” but it’s a Cyberpunk universe that uses sex to sell products.

        It’s important to understand that this is transphobic because it has never been considered acceptable to use images of cis people to sell products.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        (Note, I’m speaking of I am speaking of what people have said about this, I have not played it.)

        Now, you may say “that’s kind of gross that their Cyberpunk universe includes Transpeople as sexual objects used to sell a product” but it’s a Cyberpunk universe that uses sex to sell products.

        See, that’s how I thought, too, when I first heard about that. I thought ‘That is out of proportion, cyberpunk is supposed to do that sort of thing. It’s a shitty universe.’

        But here’s the thing: the Cyberpunk genre is also supposed to deconstruct that!

        And apparently, the game is mostly good at deconstructing, it sets up the presentation of things, and then immediately shows you the reality. The impression I got was that this seemed to be deliberate framing. It shows you the shiny lights, and corporate logos, and then shows you what’s really going on.

        It even apparently does that with the commodification of bodies and sex in general.

        Except, what it fails to do, at any point, is do that with the commodification of any trans person.

        And without deconstruction, they aren’t ‘making a comment on using trans people as sexual objects to sell a product’, they’re just depicting that happening.

        On top of that, since they used that imagery in the ad campaign of the game, they are actually doing the thing they should be criticizing, ‘using trans people as sexual objects to sell a product’!

        This is, weirdly, not the only example of them taking something that should be deconstructed and…just playing it straight instead of doing that.

        There’s apparently a gang in the Cyberpunk board game called the ‘Voodoo Boys,’ who apparently are a bunch of _mildly racist idiots_, mostly white, who dressed up in their idea of what ‘Haitians’ are and talk and act like stereotypes. This is a rather blatant comment on cultural appropriation, they have absolutely no connection with actual Haitian culture or Voudon. And they deserve mockery.

        In 2077, it’s…just a Haitian and Dominican gang. Played entirely straight, no deconstruction.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          In walking around, I have only seen that ad in cropped form. Like, from the ribcage up (but not from, like, just under the belly).

          I’ve only been in situations in the open city itself for an hour or so.

          I don’t know if that’s a victory or not.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Found the full ad.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Okay, so, I installed this on my laptop, which I was sure wouldn’t have enough to run it, to see it would even launch. It did launch, so I quickly just jumped into a game, skipping through the char creator, sure enough, incredibly slow. Not a criticism, any game would be slow there.

            But I was curious about the character creation options, so I restarted and looked at those. Boy, do I have criticisms for something asserted to have a wide range of options.

            For one, you can’t actually make a clean-shaven man…or even give him a ponytail, or normal longish-hair, because all the hair is gendered.

            Yes, this entire character creator is extremely gendered, which, if anyone has read the actual ‘trans-friendly’ claim they made…was mostly _about_ the character creator! A quote:

            ‘For example, 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.’

            Riiiight. You can’t even do the same _hair_. Hair!

            Literally the one non-gendered thing they picked was genitalia.

            At this point, I’m just done with this, and getting a refund. Partially because I can’t play it, and at this point I have spent almost a third of my ‘allowed played time to get a refund’ on trying to get it working. (Hey, Steam! Launchers shouldn’t count towards time being in-game. In fact, you shouldn’t start counting it until start a playthrough! Or, like, until they have spent 10 minutes since launching…no one is going to play though an entire game in 10 minute sections. Your timer really screws over people with non-working games they are trying to get working and thus have to continually launch part of it in different ways!)

            But also because…yeah, this is just a little too much lying to me.

            And note my problem is actually the lies, and the weird ad campaign, not the actual game. If this game had just come out without all that, exactly how it is, with weirdly customizable genitalia and all, I would have thought ‘That’s…a weird thing to have!’ and just…gone right past it. Might have had a question about the voice options, but, eh…whatever. I mean, the next game I’m buying is the new Vampire game, and I have literally no idea how it will do trans characters, if it does them _at all_.

            But…this is how they make a character creator handle trans characters. This is something they specifically talked up as part of the game. I might wait a few days for a refund, not because I might change my mind, but so I can hope back in and look at these character creation options again if I need to.

            _Sims 4_ does this better than this.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              I am only a handful of hours into the game (I just finished the mission where I had to get the pre-macguffin so that I could now go get the real macguffin).

              That’s not enough for me to give a review but it is enough to get a feel for the game.

              For what it’s worth, I was disappointed with character creation too. I CAN’T MAKE A FAT GUY. I will be modding this game.

              I’ll have more on Saturday.Report

            • Andy in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              Well, it’s not just trans people that are disappointed with the character creator. It’s impossible, for example, to make someone that looks like me.

              And some of that is justified because it’s a first-person perspective game. And the reality is that the more character assets and variations one adds, the more complexity and bugs get added to the game. And there are already some compromises – for example I’ve seen it reported that if you pick a female character the breast size is always “medium” when clothing is worn regardless of what you actually pick in the creator.

              Resources and modeling are also likely why there is only one body type (ie. muscular and fit) with no options for height, weight, etc. And I can understand those compromises for a first-person perspective game.

              As nice as it would be to have representation for everything and everyone in the character creator, it’s not a realistic goal. I’m personally glad they spent more time and resources on the story, environments, characters, and gameplay instead of character creation. They could have easily gone Witcher 3 route with an established protagonist and I don’t think it would have made much difference.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      You are really bad at intellectual Turing tests. Everything you say about people who disagree with you seems to be optimized for making you feel good about yourself for opposing them.

      This might sound prudish but in one of your links, there was an example of some game art that was a poster of an alt-looking woman in a one-piece swimsuit with breasts and a large erect penis underneath her swimsuit. Why was this thought to be put in the game? It seems like pornographic titilation was the most likely option.

      Seriously? This strikes me more as the kind of thing fourth-wave feminists insist is sexy over the eyerolls of straight men. Woman with a half-shaved head and a giant penis? Hard pass.

      It’s an ad for a drink with the slogan “Mix it up.” Like the model did with her body parts.Report

  5. Andy
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m 52 and have been an avid gamer since the original Atari VCS (2600). CP2077 is honestly the game I’ve been waiting for since the original Deus Ex.

    I also agree with your criticism of gaming journalism which is why I tend to ignore most of the mainstream writers and outlets. Journalism is a market like everything else these days and it seems like a lot of these major gaming publications and journalists do not consider mainstream gamers to be a core market.

    Instead, I rely on independent voices, mainly on youtube, who are actually passionate about gaming and understand the genre’s they are passionate about. Over time I’ve come to trust their opinions, or at least understand where they are coming from which makes me understand the games they are reviewing much better. Their reviews and opinions have given me good expectations for the game – enough that I violated my long-standing principle of not pre-ordering games.

    I was fortunate that I came to the Mass Effect universe long after the game’s major problems – including the endings – were changed through DLC. I did really enjoy that game and think it was one of the better RPG’s once it was fully developed.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Andy
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t even know which independent voices to follow on youtube anymore. Even Yahtzee is someone whose videos I visit after I enjoy a game rather than before I play it.

      I mostly have learned to trust The Algorithm. If you liked Slay the Spire, you’ll like Griftlands. Huh. Griftlands is made by the guys who made Invisible, Inc. I really liked Invisible, Inc. Wishlisted.

      But, at this point, there’s just a bunch of companies I follow. Bioware, who I used to love, told me for Mass Effect 3 that if I had a problem with their artistic vision, the problem was with me, not them. Fair enough. I wish them the best in their future endeavors. (Though, granted, I did enjoy some schadenfreude when Andromeda flopped.)

      CD Projekt is one of the game companies that I trust. Klei is one of the game companies that I trust. Weather Factory is one of the game companies that I trust.

      When it comes to reviewers, I don’t trust them anymore. They’re trying to get me to think a certain way, rather than explain the game a certain way. I’m not interested in sticking it to The Man, whomever he is, by buying (or not buying) a game. Reviewers anymore are interested in somebody getting stuck.

      I just want to play a game, dangit.Report

      • Andy in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        One thing that helps me is patience. Very very rarely do I buy a game when it first gets released (another exception I’m making for CP2077). After a few months or even a year, the release hype is gone and the merits are clear. Plus it saves money too.

        I tend like like certain studios as well, but there is always churn in the industry and even the best studios will have a flop. Bioware, Bungie, Bethesda – all used to be greats at one time. CDPR is pretty amazing right now, but it’s really hard to make that last long-term.

        Then there is EA and the less said about them the better.Report

  6. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    One thing that also happens to be vaguely political: Back when Cyberpunk 2077 was merely a tabletop game and had mere paper books to play as a tabletop theater of the mind RPG, it was called Cyberpunk 2020.

    One of the game dynamics was that adding cybernetics to your person caused “HL” (or “Humanity Loss”). You start at 10. No problem. One of the things I remember is that you could add a sub-dermal watch to either wrist (or both!) for free. Everything else cost at least a tenth of a point. I mean, there were a lot of things that were cheap. Want better eyes? 20/20 vision and whatever color you want for a tenth of a point. 9.9 is still a *LOT* of humanity. You’ll never miss it. Want eagle eyes? 200/20 vision? Do you want to change your eye color at will? Cat eyes? Lizard eyes? Do you want a visor like Giordi? A visor like Robocop? Do you want 360 vision? A point here, a point there…

    Would you like to be stronger? There’s a humanity cost per arm. Be careful, though. You don’t want your arm(s) to be too strong without replacing your torso.

    And be careful with replacing your torso. You’ll want legs that can handle any weight you decide to pick up (and your new torso, if it’s worth a damn, is heavier than your old one). There’s a humanity cost per leg.

    And if you got down to 0, your character got psychosis and went nuts and were unplayable. So don’t change out *TOO* much stuff. But you can run faster with good legs. You can be stronger with good arms. You can handle it more with a good back. Just one more change, just one more change, just one more change.

    This was back in the Gibson-world of Cyberpunk, though. William Gibson has since updated his priors. He doesn’t see body modification as necessarily alienating from one’s own humanity anymore.

    But a lot of Cyberpunk games have those assumptions baked-in. Even in 2020.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      FYI Humble Bundle has the whole R. Talsorian CyberPunk set of rule books for $15 for another week.

      Just snagged it for myself, and perhaps for my High School Youth Group…Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        Ooooooh. Nice. I think I’d like those too.

        Oh, jeez. I didn’t know that 90% of these even existed.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Oh, you don’t start at 10. You have an Empathy Score that you figure out.

          Roll 9d10 and that’s your number of points that you assign to Intelligence, Reflexes, Cool, Technical Ability, Luck, Attractiveness, Movement Allowance, and Empathy.

          Or, assign 1d10 to each stat and roll it (you can reroll 1s and 2s).

          Or, the ref can give each character anywhere between 50-80 points and let that be the starting amount. (A headshot is still a headshot.)

          You have Emp X 10 Humanity Points.

          Every time you lose 10 Humanity Points, you loose an Emp point.

          Don’t get too low.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            So you did buy it.

            Haven’t played in so long. Maybe we can get an OT Cyberpunk game going…Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              I asked myself if I’d pay $15 for a hardcopy of the original handbook and I answered “yeah”.

              So I got it. Merry Christmas to me!

              I think I’ll play a corporate in the game for my first build…Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Once upon a time I was a Solo with so many mods my humanity was down to ~2. That was a lot of fun to play, because the guy running the game was a interconnected big picture guy, so I couldn’t just get twitchy and blow people away.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                There was this movie, “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”, that I thought was very much like “Cyberpunk 2020 The Movie”.

                It was not a particularly good movie, but if you’re looking for “what would a Corp character look like In Real Life and how would he actually stand up to action-focused players”, it’s a good example of that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                In the 80’s, we all *HATED* the Corp characters. More than that, we couldn’t even imagine how they’d play in a game. We all wanted to do stuff like get into Cyber Kung-Fu fistfights.

                There was a modification that had something like a shotgun shell in your forearm. Punch someone and, on a good connect, fire the shell. Your wrist would extend an inch in a very, very short amount of time causing additional damage and making a loud noise.

                Being bullet proof! Hacking into systems! Buying a new arm!

                Why in the heck would you want to play as someone who wears a suit and carries a briefcase?

                I’ve since learned the joys of playing barbarians instead of mages.

                I think it’s time to see what a Corporate can do.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The thing to do with Corps is let them call for backup from their employer. “You’ve got a taser built into your face? Whatever, I can make a phone call and get twelve guys just like you.” And then let them do that.

                Like, treat Corps the way you treat Summoners in other games; they don’t do the fighting themselves, but they know a guy who knows a guy who can call the guys who fight just fine…or hack, or fly you somewhere, or do doctoring even better than the Trauma Team.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I also remember a kontextmaschine post about how much of cyberpunk’s corporate-world characters don’t make sense since the US changed the tax laws.

                See, people talk about The Glorious Populist Days Of Ninety Percent Tax Rates, but what they don’t know is how much stuff a corporate employee could just get. A car, for your own use, free, and free gas too! And the executives got the luxury model. Go out to dinner every night and put it on the expense account, buy your kids and their friends all the sports stuff they wanted, get discounts on college educations from the state schools!

                As he pointed out, you could pay your management that way with no limit; the only thing you couldn’t do, or could only do at 20:1 with 19 to the Feds, was give them the ability to further acquire the means of production for themselves.

                So cyberpunk just assumed that would be the case, that corporate characters could just have stuff if they wanted it, even lethal or questionably-legal stuff like guns and drugs and whores, and they wouldn’t have to pay or anything because it just went onto some balance sheet somewhere and got whipped into the insane blizzard of money that was the modern corporate financial structure.

                (What goofed it up was the oil crisis that sucked up all that corporate capital into paying for energy; that, and the invention of the electric calculator, which let any Senator figure out how much money they were missing out on by not taxing that provision-of-stuff.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s one hell of a lot of leverage. “Get this deal brokered, we’ll send you to Switzerland for two weeks of corporate training and, when you get back, we’ll get you that office I know you’ve had your eye on ever since your old boss tragically got shot when his deal failed to get brokered.”Report

              • James K in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                And of course, Reagan’s tax cuts. There’s a massive spike in incomes in the US when those tax cuts come in as fringe benefits suddenly got monetised.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              My gaming group has tried, and failed, multiple attempts at online gaming.

              But, if the game is in the ballpark of as good as Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, I will do what I can to come up with a collaborative story thread.

              I mean, I won’t be able to stop myself.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          What was interesting about the RTG books was seeing how much of it ended up just being “let’s copy this cool thing from anime and put in stats for it”, which was surprisingly common in the 80s RPG industry.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Also, Humanity loss was on a spectrum.

      Down to 8? You’re fine.
      Down to 5? Personal relationships are difficult to maintain with the un-augmented.
      Down to 3? Starting to get awful twitchy around meat bags…Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      “ This was back in the Gibson-world of Cyberpunk, though. William Gibson has since updated his priors. He doesn’t see body modification as necessarily alienating from one’s own humanity anymore.”

      This makes me ponder the line in the first Matrix movie where Tank goes

      Holes? Nope. Me and my brother Dozer, we’re both one hundred percent pure, old fashioned home-grown human, born free!…Right here, in the real world. Genuine child of Zion.

      (Em added)Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      The “humanity score” thing was R. Talorsian’s attempt to address the fact that starting characters could just about turn themselves into The Terminator and make any reasonably-scaled combat be zero challenge. I don’t think any groups really bought into the mechanic (which was, basically, “every round you have to make a roll to not Kill All Humans, the more cyber-bits you have the more penalty is applied to the roll”). Because anyone who wanted to play a combat-monster game didn’t care, and anyone who wanted to role-play didn’t need it.

      Although one of the intriguing #cyberpunkfuture things I see these days is tech executives not just going for vacations, but going for special “spiritual retreat” sessions at expensive European resorts. Which is exactly what CP2020 suggested; “Scandanavian Clinics” to minimize the Humanity loss…Report

  7. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    If you’re wondering “well, what was going on in Gamespot’s reviewer’s head whilst she was playing?

    She talked about it on the Gamespot Youtube Channel. (It’s queued up to the appropriate part at 21:05. Just watch for four minutes to get an idea of what she was thinking as she played.)

    Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      This is a failure on the part of the editors. It’s not that she was playing it wrong. There’s no wrong way to play a game, after all.

      But I’m not sure that she was the best one to review the game, given that she rarely interacted with the crafting system, upgraded her weapon precisely once, and never went clothes shopping.

      Given my adoration of crafting, weapon upgrades (TELL ME I HAVE TO MAKE HARD TRADEOFFS!), and will spend an hour or so making sure that my outfit is on… let me google this… fleek? What the hell does fleek mean? Anyway, spending an hour or so to make sure that my outfit is on fleek, these sorts of things are important to me and help me immerse myself in the game. They’re part of why I play.

      Having someone who doesn’t even interact with this part of the game boggles my mind.

      I could understand someone saying “I spent hours in the crafting system and it was so buggy! I spend hours upgrading my weapons and it sucked… your choices are ‘do you want the +1 gun or the +2 gun?’ and the clothing is all just a variant of baggy jeans and printed t-shirts and half of the printed t-shirts are ads for Real Life corporate sponsors!”

      You know what? If someone said that, I would say “that’s really freakin’ disappointing. I was looking forward to all those things.”

      But someone who says that they didn’t interact with those things?

      This reviewer tells me nothing.Report

      • Jesse in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I mean, she explains why she didn’t do those things – basically, the game kept providing her with things that negated the need to do anything, like she mentions you get a car for free when you start the game so there is no real incentive to get a new one.

        To quote her review -“There’s even an entire crafting and item upgrade menu that I never actually needed to use, given that I was regularly looting better gear and items off my numerous enemies; at least in my playthrough, I had no reason to engage with these systems at all.”

        Have you considered that maybe CDPR didn’t make the crafting, weapon, and clothes systems important enough that you could finish the game without dealing with them, more than in a cursory level, unless you’re already invested in doing that from the start?

        Hell, the Giantbomb guys made the same basic point in their podcast, that Almost all elements of the game are unnecessary. you don’t need to do anything beyond play the missions, the game railroads you all the way to the end without any real challenge.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Jesse
          Ignored
          says:

          Now imagine if there hadn’t been seven paragraphs of wokesploitation at the front of the review.

          “Have you considered that maybe CDPR didn’t make the crafting, weapon, and clothes systems important enough that you could finish the game without dealing with them, more than in a cursory level, unless you’re already invested in doing that from the start?”

          lol

          “look there’s nothing here, it’s just a box, full of sand there is no story and no plot and no…anything, it’s JUST A BOX OF SAND, how can you expect me to have fun with something like this?”

          Maybe “you can see the story without having to do Absolutely Every Single Tiny Solitary Bit Of Everything In The Game” is a selling point. God knows reviewers have complained before about having to learn to play both completely and perfectly in order to see all of the narrative content.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            Now imagine if there hadn’t been seven paragraphs of wokesploitation at the front of the review.

            There wasn’t. That was the Polygon review. The Gamespot review had only a small amount of perfunctory woking off, and it was buried in the middle.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse
          Ignored
          says:

          Is this a difficulty level thing, like consumables in Witcher, where they’re optional at normal difficulty level but practically required at the higher levels?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Jesse
          Ignored
          says:

          “There are so many optional quests that I didn’t need to do and I was able to finish the game without doing side quests.”

          Is this a criticism or a description of “optional”?Report

  8. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    And I’m… downloading patches.

    Oh, and there are new nvidia patches and I have to download those too.

    Dang it.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      First impressions: I cannot make my character fat.Report

      • Damon in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        At least you finished your download….i’m hung up at 95%Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I have complaints.

        I am experiencing joy.

        But I have complaints.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        First impression I have: The game does not, in fact, work.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          I haven’t had that problem over here.

          Is your VR helmet still plugged in? That can create sound issues.

          Also download the nvidia drivers.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            I don’t have a VR helmet? And it’s not sound issues…the actual game, when run from the launcher (Or not from the launcher), almost immediately crashes with an error about an illegal instruction. I don’t even get a splash screen.

            And, yes, I updated drivers, and even had Steam check the game again. I’ve tried turning off the Steam overlay, running as admin, etc.

            And here’s the thing: I’m not sure if this game is going to run well on my computer. My video card is moderately new, as in, I bought it two months ago but I bought a mid-range one, and my CPU is kinda old, and I don’t have an SSD.

            So looking at the tech comments, I’m not sure I can run this well.

            But…I’m pretty sure I should at least get to the menu of the game.

            So I’m sorta faced with a problem: I know eventually I will be able to get this game running in a literal sense, they’ll come out with a patch or discover what particular bug this is or something. I’m not worried about that. But…I have a two week window for a refund and I really need to check if this game is _actually playable_ on my system before then.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              I can say that my life improved *DRAMATICALLY* when I switched from an old ultra-fast spindle drive to a 2nd gen SSD. I mean, night and day.

              If you’re only willing to swap out one device to try one last time, I’d recommend getting an SSD. That improved my (computer-related) quality of life a great deal and it affects everything from reboot times to load times to pretty much everything.

              So even if you get a refund for the game, you’ll still be pleased you got the SSD in a year or so.Report

              • Damon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t have an SSD…there were none that in the 1TB at the time. My comp is more nearer the recommended specs than not so we’ll see tonight how it goes…..but I bought the Witcher 3 when I couldn’t run it, so I can always put Cybepunk on hold until I get a new box / they patch the hell out of the game and optimize it’s performance. The game will probably be a lot better in a year.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Damon
                Ignored
                says:

                Hell, you can still use your old HD as your main and use a secondary drive as storage for your games.

                Here’s a Here’s a 500 gig drive (internal). Get this as an F: drive or something. “Only 500 gigs, Jaybird?” “Well, it’s $56.99. Like, that’s cheaper than Cyberpunk 2077.”

                If you’re willing to splurge and spend a hundred bucks? A terabyte is available.

                (If you switch to having the TB as your main drive and use your old drive as backup space, you’ll be even more surprised by the amount of improvement.)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Who has spinning disks anymore?

                Oh, wait, I do. I have two SSDs and two HDDs in my NAS.

                Of course, I have two more SSDs arriving this week, so pretty soon I won’t have any spinning disks…

                PS I second the SSDs. Noticeable improvement across the board for software.Report

              • Damon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks for the links. 1TB we not for sale at any price a number of years ago. The largest I recall was 250gig, that’s why I went for a 1tb drive.

                My next rig will no doubt have oneReport

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Damon
                Ignored
                says:

                The first wave of mass-market SSDs wasn’t for replacing your HDD. It was a supplementary drive on which you installed your OS and a handful of your favorite newish games. This would reduce your boot-up time from 2 minutes to 15 seconds, and reduce your game’s loading screens from 30 seconds to “Hey, slow down! I never have time to read the loading-screen tips!”

                Nowadays, with a 2TB SSD, you don’t need an HDD unless you have a very large media library, in which case you get an HDD just for that and install all your software on the SSD.Report

              • Damon in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not sure if it was a first wave or not, but when I went to config my set up, the ONLY SSD that was avail was 250 and IIRC, it was either SSD or HDD–now, I’m sure, if I’d spent time thinking hard about it, I could have gone with “get both”…but I didn’t. 🙂Report

      • Andy in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        That was my first impression too. My hopes of making a “Dad Bod” netrunner were dashed. Overall the character creator is underwhelming.

        Other than that my biggest complaint is input lag I can’t nail down. It makes gunplay super annoying to where I can’t even consistently plant hits with a shotgun at close range.

        The only bugs I’ve experienced are some relatively minor visual bugs. The most annoying is that dead people still move around on the floor and it looks like they are trying to get up, so I waste a lot of ammo.

        Overall I’m impressed with game, but only have about 4 hours in so far. I’m kind of already wishing I’d done my original spec differently, so may start over with a different attribute mix.Report

  9. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Strange Days was a magnificently messed-up movie. Sex, violence, and no hesitation to mix the two. In really, really messed up ways.

    Some of the tech from that movie shows up in the game.Report

  10. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I finished Act 1 and got to the other side of the opening cinematic of Act 2 and I am screaming “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” in the highest pitch I can possibly register.Report

  11. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    CD Projekt has officially apologized.

    Report

  12. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    GoG is having a crappy, crappy month.

    Report

  13. Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Wow, this game is fraught with a capital F. I’m taking my gaming $$ elsewhere.

    Future employers: So March, we see from your steam profile (standard background check in future world) that you played Cyberpunk2077… tell us about that.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
      Ignored
      says:

      Eh, there are too many good games that flopped and too many bad games that did really well that just “gaming” in the first place will be a flag.

      “No, it’s okay! I only play Animal Crossing! And I don’t imagine myself in a long-term romantic relationships with Isabelle!”Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I haven’t changed jobs in quite sometime… but when I’ve entertained some interviews I’ve noticed a massive sea change in the questions.

        The new code is: Culture is very important here, and we want to make sure this is a good cultural fit for you. For *me* mind you… this is for my benefit.

        What I’m looking forward to is not only the moral impact of your choices, but also the aesthetic – cultural – impact.

        You played Shadowbane? Could go one of two ways:
        1. I’m sorry, but studies show PvP games indicate reduced levels of collaboration and…
        2. Lolz SB.exe right? You’re hired.

        I have no idea how many ‘cultural fits’ I’ve failed.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
          Ignored
          says:

          One of the things they do for the coder interview at my workplace is play “Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes”.

          The point isn’t to disarm the bomb, really. It’s to see how the person communicates and whether they get a particular kind of toxic when they get flustered. If you can communicate well, the assumption goes, you’ll know how to comment your code. If you can handle your co-players miscommunicating with you in the game with aplomb, you’ll be able to handle the real deal.Report

  14. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Golly!

    Report

  15. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    The Lord’s Prayer has the option of showing up in the game.

    I found myself unconsciously tensing up, not knowing whether V was going to say “debts” or “trespasses”.

    Spoiler: He says “trespasses”. (They also omit the “kingdom/power/glory forever” part.)Report

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