Cyberpunk in the December Issue of The Atlantic #cyberpunk
With the imminent(?) release of Cyberpunk 2077, and the fact that waking reality seems to have caught up with the 80s dystopian genre, cyberpunk has been getting a lot of ink and electrons these days (e.g. there’s currently a 7-story ad for Cyberpunk 2077 in Times Square!).
The December print issue of The Atlantic (currently online) has a profile of Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the first cyberpunk game, Cyberpunk: The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future (1988). It is Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk universe that CD Projekt Red is using in their Cyberpunk 2077 videogame.
The article profiles Pondsmith, talks about the forthcoming video game, and draws connections between the cyberpunk genre and the world in which we now find ourselves.
The only real mistake that the article makes is in claiming that Pondsmith and his RPG “predicted the future.” Pondsmith mainly gamified the existing 80s fiction genre created by William Gibson, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, Walter Jon Williams, Pat Cadigan, and other first-wave cyberpunks. Most of the central ideas in the Cyberpunk RPG were lifted directly from these authors’ works. Cyberpunk the RPG didn’t predict the future, cyberpunk the sci-fi genre upon which it is based did.
But it was Pondsmith who created the gameworld and a clever rules framework which allowed fans of the genre to climb inside of all things cyberpunk and experience it firsthand. More architect than oracle, that was Pondsmith’s contribution to the genre.
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