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Whatever Happened To Cyberpunk?

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#1 Hal

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 07:22 AM

Good morning,

 

Just reading the net while waiting for my coffee to brew and stumbled over a short article about Cyberpunk. I love William Gibson - he is awesome and I also think that the Cyberpunk RPG goes a good way to getting the tone right.

 

The article makes some interesting points about subcultures being absorbed into the general mainstream - it is kind of how I feel about gaming and general nerd stuff sometimes. I feel like a lot of us paid a price to do what we really wanted to do at the expense of being misunderstood and ostracized and now it is fine and lovely and nicely wrapped for everyone to enjoy but it has lost a lot of its depth.

 

This extends to  my current opinion of things like Doctor Who :)

 

Whatever Happened to Cyberpunk?

 

Discuss! :)

 

Hal :hal:


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#2 BigJackBrass

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 08:55 AM

Yes, basically the nerds won. The biggest series of movies out there is based on a load of comics. People play videogames on the Tube or during lunch. The designers of our tech, the drivers of popular culture, the writers of sitcoms and creators of content grew up playing D&D and that's bled into how they affect the world.

 

Has it lost depth by becoming mainstream? It's certainly gained breadth, but I hesitate to say that it's actually any shallower than it used to be. Back when it was a small, secret pool I think it just looked deeper than it really was. The golden age of science fiction is about twelve, as they say :D


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#3 Hal

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 10:27 AM

Interesting - it has definitely gained breadth :) Though I have to say that with that comes the need to write for a wider audience and hence we lose some of the stuff that really made this stuff cool. The stuff that is super deep. Or maybe I am getting old and it is time to apply for my grognard card :)

 

(grumble grumble)

 

Hal :hal:


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#4 BigJackBrass

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 10:53 AM

Interesting - it has definitely gained breadth :)

 

As have most of us, over the years...


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#5 Lucky_Strike

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 11:07 AM

Access to stripped polished versions of nerd ideas I think.

It's not like public success of marquee superhero movies has led to success for comic books.

The striking thing to me on cyberpunk in particular is how integral human occupation of earth orbit and space exploration were to Gibson's books but not to current definitions of the genre.

Same thing on gaming. Playing an IOS game on the subway is a distraction and entertainment rather than a hobby.

I am comforted though that marvel properties have had success at target demographics for years. It's sometimes easy to forget that even though I was the only kid reading comic books, most all of the kids liked the spider man appearances on the electric club.

It's a reflection that makes now seem more of a cycle continuing than a first time ever.
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#6 Tulty

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 11:35 AM

Oooh, don't get me STARTED on this most recent series of Doctor Who!  :angry: Grrrrrrr.

 

It's an interesting point that with the development of mainstream 'nerd-culture', the culture itself has lost some of its integrity. Growing up, I was introduced to D&D because my friend played it, and we were lucky that his was such a force of personality that he could prod us all into playing as well. I never really experienced stigmatization because of it in my formative years (although many would argue that these ARE still my formative years!). When I mention it to people who're completely none-nerdtastic, it gets a bit of curiosity but not necessarily hostility or condescension. 

 

I think the incorporation of gaming and geek hobbies into mainstream is a mainly positive thing. Tolerance goes up and suspicion goes down as these things become more acceptable, and even after the inevitable decline of the comic-book film trend, sooner or later, the fact that they were so big and so popular, I reckon, will stick around. 


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#7 Lockhart

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 12:25 PM

I don't think the depth has gone, however, where-as before there may have only existed one pool with a deep end, now there is a spectrum from shallow to deep waters. The fact that more stripped down and mainstream geek culture exists and is produced doesn't mean the hardcore isn't produced anymore. However, because the mainstream is more heavily marketed and mass produced, it certainly makes it more difficult to find the more niche subject matter you look for.

The best companies are those that can market to both and transition customers from one depth to another. Paizo is doing a particularly good job of this. They have the rules light introductory Beginners Box. They are publishing the 'Strategy Guide' transition book to start a transition, and from there they coax newbies into the full game. At least that is the strategy, but reports of the Beginners Box at least seem to indicate that it is playing its role effectively.
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#8 BigJackBrass

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 01:11 PM

Take a look at Steve Jackson Games. Jackson started designing and editing in the 70s, started his own company in 1980 publishing Kung Fu 2100 and took over The Space Gamer from Metagaming. He wrote a series of articles, later a book, about designing games. Years of successful hobby boardgames led up to GURPS, one of the most in-depth and extensively supported RPGs ever, built up from a desire to create a universal system for any level of play and complexity, based on real-world numbers.

 

Now? By far their biggest products are Munchkin and Zombie Dice.

 

That's not exactly a problem - indeed, although SJG's RPG output is almost entirely PDFs these days it's the success of Munchkin and Zombie Dice which has allowed them to keep it going - but those are the games appearing in the sorts of stores that Joe Average has heard of: Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble. Role-playing takes time and homework and the sales mean that it doesn't pay the bills, because most people are simply aghast at the notion that you might have to read a couple of hundred pages of rules and setting. Frankly, I don't blame them. SJG relaunched Ogre and Car Wars recently which is terrific, and for hobby games you can expect them to be quite successful, but they're only getting that sort of treatment because the company is able to devote resources to them without the danger of going belly-up if sales tank.

 

Cyberpunk has another problem: the parts of cyberpunk taken away from the early fiction by many people, especially gamers, tended to be the cool technology, the inequalities of a society owned by huge corporations and the possibilities for being the edgy, rebel outsider, striking a blow for freedom and humanity. All well and good, but not everyone is William Gibson or Rudy Rucker or Bruce Sterling and RPGs in particular deal more easily with equipment lists than with philosophical questions and social commentary. The result is that most of the things that made cyberpunk so cool in the 80s make it look horribly old-fashioned now. The influential novels, like Neuromancer or When Gravity Fails, stand up well apart from a few details because they weren't simply about cool gear and the cool stuff you could do with it, but your average cyberpunk RPG doesn't have that depth and time has left it behind. The future happened and it waved as it went past.

 

"It was charting, through the metaphors of sci-fi, the psychological reality of a society being profoundly disrupted by technology that made Gibson’s writing exceptional." 

 

"...hundreds of books co-opted Gibson’s style but entirely missed his message."


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#9 bodhranist

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 02:10 PM

It's not punk if everybody's doing it. If you're in a minority of people who has a computer plugged into their head, or wants to, then you're probably going to end up feeling some comradeship with the few who know what that's like. But then, everybody else plugged in, and there's nothing to bind you together with the other freaks, because you're not freaks any more. That's probably why most of the gamergaters are losing their shit - there ended up being enough people into the thing that made them special and unique that they weren't special and unique any more.

Also, we discovered that the megacorps controlling the world tend more towards banal, blandly smothering, and tediously awful, rather than interestingly machievellian and creepily insane.


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#10 Slartibartfast

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 01:11 AM

Also, we discovered that the megacorps controlling the world tend more towards banal, blandly smothering, and tediously awful, rather than interestingly machievellian and creepily insane.

 

So you're saying that today's megacorps are more horror villains than cyberpunk archnemesis'?

 

;)

 

Regarding RPGs - surely it is as much the role of the players and GM as the designer to establish the theme and feel of the game (equipment lists notwithstanding).  If I want to play a cyberpunk game with some friends then what's stopping me from doing so? 

 

As for encouraging/inspiring people to do this - Gibson, Rucker et al haven't gone away - their books are still around.  As are Tolkin, Asimov and the list goes on... And although films of books/comics we like might lose something in the translation to screen they bring these authors to new audiences and generations.  If only a few movie-goers read the Based On The Novel By... bit at the start of the film and later chase down copies of Dune, Total Recall, 200AD or whatever then more people get to re-discover these things.


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#11 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 05:00 AM

On a related note, wasn't the future supposed to be Japanese?
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#12 Slartibartfast

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 08:33 PM

On a related note, wasn't the future supposed to be Japanese?

Perhaps a dystopian future? :(

Isn't Japan now in recession?
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#13 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 12:00 PM

tumblr_nkjp3aj9xa1ro2bqto1_400.jpg


25 years ago today, March 1, 1990: The US Secret Service raided the offices of Steve Jackson Games.
The incident helped lead to the founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the resulting lawsuit set the first legal precedent for email privacy.

(Above: 1st edition GURPS: Cyberpunk by Loyd Blankenship, SJG, 1990. Publication was delayed when the electronic files were seized in the raid.)


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#14 Hafwit 2.0

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 03:47 PM

Fashion for foiling facial recognition software.

 

We live in cyberpunk, except we're the salarymen and the corporate drones, not the chrome-plated iconoclasts. Technology is something we buy, not something we make or control to any great extent. 


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#15 Sênstaku

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 04:08 AM

I feel like a lot of us paid a price to do what we really wanted to do at the expense of being misunderstood and ostracized and now it is fine and lovely and nicely wrapped for everyone to enjoy but it has lost a lot of its depth.

 

Months late, I know, but...

 

I've never thought growing a subculture to be a bad thing. Yes, many of us suffered under the banner of nerdom for a long time - and now, lots of our oppressors have come over to our side. Jocks play D&D, board games, and video games on a regular basis now. Geeks hold positions of authority in entertainment and finance industries. And thanks to the internet we can band together to have discussions about it from states/countries/continents away.

And this is all a good thing.

There should never be a time when more people joining and enjoying a hobby should be considered a bad thing. One of the things that makes me cringe and irritated is when my fellow enthusiasts rebel against the "Mainstream" adoption of the hobby. We shouldn't be spurning new people because they haven't suffered for the hobby, we should embrace them and teach them so that we can grow and they can appreciate not only our culture, but what we've done to establish said culture.

Remember, this is a hobby for enjoyment. We suffered bullying and, in some cases, being called satanists and devil worshipers for the sake of that enjoyment. It doesn't serve to in turn become the bullies when other people want to do the same thing. My wife doesn't game, but she appreciates that I enjoy it, and when she decides to try I do my best to make it an enjoyable experience for her because I want her to see what I get out of it. I want the same experience for anybody who dips a toe into our culture - Not the experience I had in school when it was still considered "uncool":

 

Now that that's been addressed...

I've never played Cyberpunk, but I have played Shadowrun which as I recall was inspired by Cyberpunk, and it's still got a strong and thriving community - so much so that three new games have been released, and two are in development. I'm hoping for a 6th edition core rulebook sometime soon - It's been almost three years since 5th edition came out after all.


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#16 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 08:54 AM


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#17 Slartibartfast

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 09:05 AM

Perhaps a dystopian future? :(
Isn't Japan now in recession?

Update - Japan is now out of recession!
BBC reports growth of 1% in first quarter this year - chrome bioware for everyone!
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#18 Hafwit 2.0

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:08 PM

:cool: Domo arigato, Chuck.


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#19 kendoyle659

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 04:19 PM

Are large shoulderpads now mandatory?


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#20 Hafwit 2.0

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Posted 13 June 2015 - 02:26 PM

7Znm4ws.jpg


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