CD Projekt Red Ditches Gender Options Due to Backlash

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CD Projekt Red Ditches Gender Options Due to Backlash

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Polish video game developer, CD Projekt Red, has recently announced a major change to their upcoming roleplaying videogame Cyberpunk 2077. As players start building the body and look of their character in the beginning of the game, they will no longer be presented the option to choose a binary gender. Instead, players will be given the option to choose a body type and one of two voice options to create a character that better fits their personal identity. This open customization option is further complimented by the studios choice to have the protagonist be referred to with a genderneutral name rather than any specific pronoun. 

This recent update to the character creation system comes on the back of a wave of criticism from fans. To many, the cyberpunk genre offers a perfect environment for gender expression, as the ethos of the series focuses on post-humanity and the ability to redefine one’s body with ease. Having recognized this important mark of the genre, senior concept artist Marthe Jonkers promised that the studio is still committed to making a game “that’s really inclusive.” To that end, Jonkers assured fans that the studio is always accepting player feedback on any issues, and the company wants to create a game “that everybody is comfortable playing” despite handling difficult topics. 

Although the developers have made a great stride in representing player identities, the game has received some flak for a transphobic advertisement featured in the games open world. The ad in question featured a hypersexualized depiction of a transgender individual as well as the slogan “Mix IUp.” In response to harsh criticism from the transgender community, the developers discussed their desire to represent this topic as a target for corporate oversexualization and exploitation – another theme at the core of the Cyberpunk genre.

Whether or not the company’s policy of accepting and responding to criticism will extend to this specific topic remains to be seen. For a more in-depth review on this topic, check out Polygon’s article and interview with one of the studios art directors. 

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