"High tech, low life."
That was the tagline to my first introduction to the subgenre of cyberpunk: the tabletop RPG, Cyberpunk 2020. Oh sure, I had seen numerous films in the 1980s, such as the holy Blade Runner, that now qualify as classics of the subgenre aesthetic, but I admittedly did not have a word for it until I reached college...and Cyberpunk 2020. Rest assured, Gibson came soon thereafter for me.
I no longer play RPGs in the meatspace sense. Not for any aversion but for lack of anyone else's interest. With the migration to digital formats, I'm sure fewer and fewer people play these sorts of games all the time, much to Dorkland's lament. Still, I miss the Night City setting of Cyberpunk 2020 and thought that the sensibility of cyberpunk had gone the way of the dinosaur with contemporaries turning their noses up while scolding, "that is sooooo 1980s."
But Cyberpunk is making a comeback...at least in the sense of games. A new online RPG called Cyberpunk 2077 is on its way. Details of its release are sketchy, but it sounds like developers want to take their time with it and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I wondered, however, how cyberpunk would translate to a current day audience? Would it appeal to youth who might not see Neuromancer and Snow Crash as "cool?" Would it appear stale at all, even if the themes are as relevant now as they ever were?
This interview with the extraordinarily erudite Michael Pondsmith, creator of the original Cyberpunk 2020, set my questions to rest. "It's not just the technology, it's the feel," Pondsmith says in the interview on MTV Geek. He draws his inspiration from rain-wet city streets and the fact that in cyberpunk, "people have a lot of technology, but that didn't change the fundamental fact that there was a lot of treacherous, nasty behavior." Other gems:
-"Cyberpunk isn't about saving humanity, it's about saving yourself."
-Cribbing Gibson, "the street has its own use for things."
-"This is Cyberpunk 2020 grown up. You're going to see things we started and where they ended up."
Being a game with potentially millions of online players and an inherent atmosphere of distrust, the world of Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be interesting. It might even be the first game of its kind that I join.
However, I am a bit put off that I was not invited to be a consultant (SARCASM). After all, Dorkland and I once created our own Night City for cyberpunk by using the first release of Sim City.
Maybe I should have the old kibitzer on here to talk about it.
My e-novella, Hound of Winter is available for only 99 cents
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