Cyberpunk 2077 (videogame)
Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person open-world action game developed by CD Projekt Red, and released on December 10th, 2020 for the PC, and Xbox One and Playstation 4 video game consoles. The video game is based upon the series of table-top games of the same name, developed by Michael Pondsmith for R. Talsorian Games. Taking place in 2077, Cyberpunk is set in the American futurescape of Night City, and incorporates a myriad of themes including dystopian future, data privacy, and identity theft, and is centered around a branching player narrative. Throughout the game, the player's ethics are repeatedly tested as they are faced with moral decisions intersecting with issues such as access rights, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and hacking, and where each choice results in variable outcomes, thereby affecting gameplay and making the experience unique for each player.
The CyberPunk series is set in an alternate timeline which has seen rapid technological advancement, the dissolution of government, and the integration of humans with cybernetics technology. Thematically, the series is predicated upon the promises of oppressive dystopian science fiction made to the youth during the 1980’s. Here, mega corporations have usurped control from world governments, AI runs rampant and individuals have neural implants and augmentations allowing them to interface directly with the internet. At a moment when society is facing a transformative shift in its approaches to information ethics, Cyberpunk 2077 acts as both satire and social commentary, addressing many of the prevailing concerns associated with the topic.
Information Ethics in CyberPunk 2077
Information ethics has been defined as "the branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society." The gameplay of CyberPunk 2077 concerns itself with the following issues of information ethics:
During the game the player faces multiple decision paths and interactive gameplay options, many of which involve hacking into secured systems and steal information from other entities in Night City by ‘jacking in’ to data terminals through direct neural interfaces installed into the body. Another scenario involves replaying the last moments of another person’s life prior to their murder, through an interactive playback process called 'Brain Dance.'
Night City, as described by CD Projekt Red, "is an American megacity in the Free State of North California, controlled by corporations and unassailed by the laws of both country and state." The metropolis sees conflict from rampant gang wars, shadow brokers known as "Fixers", and the ruling elite vying for influence and power, while the streets are patrolled by militaristic police forces and surveillance technology is an ever present concern for the player. These elements of opposition are mitigated by the ability to hack electronic or connected devices, whereby the player might choose to shut down the entire surveillance system or operate the camera remotely, gaining access to the camera’s field of view.
CyberPunk 2077's narrative also raises new concerns related to an individual's data privacy rights after their death. During events in the game the player acquires a stolen biochip from the Arasaka Corporation called the 'Relic,' containing the uploaded consciousness of in-game personality, Johnny Silverhand, who was killed decades prior, and interacts with the player throughout the course of narrative. Subsequently, aspects of the story focus on the discovery that the preservation of consciousness is still an experimental process and in the case of Johnny Silverhand, was an involuntary one.
In CyberPunk 2077, the prevailing issues surrounding information ethics are fixtures of the genre and are part of the cyberpunk movement and identity as “a cultural formation, and a means to engage with our technocultural age,” and the existential metaphors presented in the game's scenarios place emphasis on present day society’s increasingly intimate relationship with technology and the potential outcome.Gameplay footage and information dumps published in the months leading up to CyberPunk 2077's release served as both a manifesto and confirmation that the game’s developers had incorporated many of the genre’s symbolic elements; Hacking: check. Cybernetic enhancements: check. Street crime: check. Punk fashion: check. Urban sprawl: check. In a 2018 article written for the Guardian entitled, “Neon and corporate dystopias: why does cyberpunk refuse to move on?” by Paul Walker-Emig, highlights the changeless elements of the genre but also giving an overview of thematic presentation of CyberPunk 2077, stating, “the fate of cyberpunk in our current media culture shows us the ways in which the genre’s original pessimistic predictions have come true,” and “suggests that the system we live in is an inevitability.”
The futurescape depicted in CyberPunk 2077 is the same resultant alluded to by Luciano Floridi in “Ethics after the Information Revolution,” when he conceptualized the infosphere and states, “Our technological tree has been growing its far-reaching branches much more widely, rapidly, and chaotically than its conceptual, ethical, and cultural roots.” The world presented in CyberPunk 2077 can be construed as the fully realized and unchecked infosphere as described by Floridi’s analogy of the technology, thereby supporting his claim that humanity’s technological growth is far outpacing it’s cultural and ethical.
Whether considered satire or social commentary, the video game CyberPunk 2077 is an ode to the cyberpunk genre and movement, and addresses many of the contemporary issues and themes intersecting with information ethics and technology of the present moment.
- CyberPunk 2077 [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/11/cyberpunk2077.jpg
- CD Projekt Red (10 December 2020). Cyberpunk 2077(Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S). CD Projekt.
- "CD Projekt Red Group Summer Conference 2012". Retrieved June 11, 2012.
- Futter, Michael (12 June 2018). "'Cyberpunk 2077' Is More 'Deus Ex' Than 'Witcher 3'". Variety. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018.
- Farrelly, Stephen (13 April 2018). "Cyberpunk 2077 - Everything CD Projekt Red's new game needs". Red Bull Games. Archived from the original on 15 April 2018.
- Schmeink, L., Murphy, G., & McFarlane, A. (Eds.). (2019). The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/10.4324/9781351139885
- CyberPunk 2077 IGN.com [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fassets1.ignimgs.com%2F2020%2F06%2F24%2Fcyberpunk2077-handson-blogroll-1593032704417.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ign.com%2Farticles%2Fcyberpunk-2077-hands-on-preview-what-we-think-after-4-hours-in-night-city&tbnid=NxEyxPVhLsXfcM&vet=12ahUKEwjAt6rqrM7vAhVJZKwKHX-GATMQMygTegUIARDaAQ..i&docid=ZYxm5EX4p7HgIM&w=1280&h=720&q=cyberpunk%20ign&ved=2ahUKEwjAt6rqrM7vAhVJZKwKHX-GATMQMygTegUIARDaAQ
- Joan, Reitz M. "Information Ethics." Online Dictionary For Library And Information Science. N.p., 2010. Web. <http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_i.aspx>.
- Cook, Adam (17 February 2016). "What do we know about Cyberpunk 2077 so far?". Red Bull Games. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017.
- Donnelly, Joe (26 June 2018). "CD Projekt Red breaks down Cyberpunk 2077 trailer frame by frame in new series". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018.
- Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal — 48-minute walkthrough. YouTube. Cyberpunk 2077. 27 August 2018.
- Neon and Corporate dystopias: Why DOES cyberpunk refuse to move on? (2018, October 16). Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/oct/16/neon-corporate-dystopias-why-does-cyberpunk-refuse-move-on
- Floridi, L. (2015). The ethics of information. Oxford: Oxford University Press.