After a bit of a storm around their attitude towards transpeople, CD Projekt Red have revealed that the player character for Cyberpunk might be able to be transgender, non-binary or cisgender.
In an interview with Gamasutra, director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz said they were working hard to allow players to fully customise their appearance and voice to suit whichever gender their character identifies as. It’s not concrete, but it’s a more decisive statement than most developers would offer if they weren’t serious about it.
Cyberpunk stories have a long and deep history of dealing with transhumanism, and a transgender character adds an interesting new layer to that.
For cis players who like to create their own head canons, a trans character adds a new depth to a story which will likely feature body modifications very heavily. For transgender players though, this marks one of the first pieces of major in game representation for them, following Bloodhound in Apex Legends, who identifies as non binary.
Some in the trans community are understandably cautious though. CDPR’s Twitter (and GOG’s, owned by CDPR) has a history of being, if not transphobic, at least ignorant.
The devs themselves might not be the ones running social media, but it’s still a worrying sign. #WontBeErased, by the way, started as a way to honour figures in the American trans community after sweepingly transphobic Trump administration policies, not promote PC gaming.
Also, a recent video showed a feminine figure with a huge cybernetic bulge on a billboard. To see a trans femme model so obviously sexualised led some to believe it was a fetishistic portrayal, but in Cyberpunk’s dystopia hypersexualisation is par for the course.
It’s also a fairly clear commentary on rainbow capitalism taken to the extreme.
While some might miss the nuance and just laugh at a lady with a bulge, the game is sure to be packed with subtle background lore which forces the player to think about the world they’re in.
For those players for whom there are two types of protagonist (straight white male and ‘political’), the option to be a straight white male still exists, so everyone should be on board here, right?
Stacey Henley is a published author, avid gamer and all-round nerd. She can most often be found roaming through vivid expansive spaces and discovering the world around her, but only in video games. In real life, she mostly stays home.