With all of the ways in which the cyberpunk mode has been acclimated into modern art, media, technology, and culture, and how that process tends to drift from the substance of a thing to the superficial style of a thing, it is easy to forget how rebellious and alarming cyberpunk was intended to be.
Mike Pondsmith, the creator of Cyberpunk 2020 and founder of R. Talsorian Games, knows this all too well. He and the company recently released a statement related to our current protest moment. It reads:
R. Talsorian Games was founded in early 1980s by Mike Pondsmith.
Mike Pondsmith, as many of you might know, is black. RTG is, to our knowledge, the first major roleplaying company founded by a black man. It remains, in our opinion, one of the most prominent black-owned and operated tabletop game companies. Until just last year, he was the only black person in the Origins Hall of Fame. And he’s aware of how public the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game has made his profile.
Mike’s spent a lot of time, in the past few days, reflecting on not just current events but a lifetime spent being a black person in the United States and a black person in gaming. Not to mention what it means to look out your window and see too much of the dystopian future you’ve made a career of writing about become the dystopian present.
There’s a lot there. He doesn’t just want to, as Mike Pondsmith or as CEO of R. Talsorian Games, release a brief statement condemning racism or offering support for those brave souls out there fighting for change and a better, less cyberpunk world. Mike is taking some time to pick the right words to express his thoughts and feelings. But he is picking them, and he does have something to say about race, abuse of authority, and power.
In the meanwhile, R. Talsorian Games wants to be clear.
We don’t just condemn racism. We despise it.
People, no matter the color of their skin, their gender identity, their sexual preference, their ethnicity, their physical and mental differences, their age, or their religion have a right to live their lives without worrying about being harassed or beaten or killed by others, especially others with power and authority.
When power is abused, people have the right and, in fact, the duty to stand up, protest that abuse, and demand accountability.
We look forward to hearing Mike’s further thoughts. As he has said before, “cyberpunk was a warning, not an aspiration.”