Arguably the most anticipated triple-A video game of 2020 has swiftly found itself steeped in controversy due to its portrayal of transgender people.
For those not aware – and who can blame you, considering how many times delays have pushed it back – Cyberpunk 2077 finally gets its long-awaited launch tomorrow, December 10th, for consoles and PC, bringing an eight-year-long wait to its inevitable end. And considering the gigantic gestation period, it’s hardly surprising that fans who have been following development of the ambitious action-RPG were long ago seated and strapped in on the hype train, which pulls into the station in just a few hours’ time.
That being the case, review embargoes for the title have since lifted, paving the way for an initial wave of scores and impressions to come flooding in. The overall verdict, it seems, is one of overwhelming positivity with regards to gameplay and the sheer scope of CD Projekt RED’s first major launch since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, though not everyone has walked away impressed with what they found in Night City.
A number of publications, including Kotaku, Polygon and CBR, have taken particular umbrage with specific portions for painting transgender people in a bad light or worse, completely misrepresenting them entirely. One issue singled out by CBR takes aim at Cyberpunk 2077‘s character creation system which, rather than determine gender based on an avatar’s genitals (or lack thereof), voice type is used to dictate the outcome instead. Deep voices are attributed to males while lighter or higher-pitched alternatives are designated female, resulting in criticisms that preconceptions about vocal range are inherently transphobic.
Likewise, while character creation is touted as all-inclusive, other reviewers have noted that little to no transgender people can be interacted with in Night City, with giant neon-lit adverts plastered all over buildings only serving to fetishize trans bodies rather than normalize them.
A fair assessment, or overreaction? Let us know what you think in the usual place below.