Monday, April 5, 2010


I have been considering the "Cyberpunk Revival Contest" at 1KM1KT.  Not really seriously entering the contest but rather as an excuse to declare a game world for the system I have blogged about.  It is about time, really.

So under the idea of making Cyberpunk "cool" here are my thoughts:

Cyberpunk was cool because it was futuristic but not in a 50s utopian way.  There were no rocket packs or lunar apartments where Jim would fly to work on Mars and be home for dinner.  We knew that the 1980s was the future at one point and the threat of nuclear war sucked, so it stood to reason that the future would suck just as much in 2012 as it would in 1982.  So Cyberpunk dictates the future must suck.

Cyberpunk was high tech in cool ways.  There is lame high tech, like robot housekeepers or shiny robots that whine all the time in English accents, and cool high tech.  The technology was cool because it was realistic things people would buy, who would want a robot housekeeper when you could plug your brain directly into a virtual reality?  So Cyberpunk dictates technology must be realistically cool.

Cyberpunk would also not be Cyberpunk without the "punk" attitude.  This might be the biggest missing piece which limits the appeal for the current RPG demographic.  The concept of Punk has changed so much.  Current Cyberpunks could be considered hackers, crackers, pirates, modders, vandals, gang members, university researchers, Facebook/Twitter/Myspace users...  So, Cyberpunks are quite mainstream these days.  Back in the 80s it was very tempting to think about a world where people made technology work for them -- but you have to remember that pre-PC days computers came with people to run them and technology was very proprietary and protected under trade secrets.  Cyberpunk was made reality by the people who enjoyed it, we consumed the genre and thought "why not?".  So, perhaps the rule of Cyberpunk for the future is that it must continue to evolve..

So, with these rules of Cyberpunk we must look to a future for the gameworld.  "Blade Runner" was set in 22 years after the book was written (1982 written, set in the year 2014 according to Google).  If we were to look at the far-flung future of 2032 what would we see?  Well, we should first look at the year 1988 and consider how things are the same and different with 2010.

More on that later...


  1. Just figured I'd be the guy to post the obligatory nerd fact check: The book Blade Runner was based on was actually put out in the 1960's, called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

    Realize I post it with love and not the "OMG nerdfail" some peeps do :P

    I've been wanting to spew something forward in the spirit of the Revival contest myself, but to be honest I love Cyberpunk as it was viewed in the 1980's. I've often attempted to write up a setting coined as a "Retro Punk: Speculative Future that Never Was" tribute, but honestly it'd be no different than running old Cyberpunk 2020 or 1st Edition Shadowrun minus the magic.

    I have an old blog post that ranted a little bit about this...feel free to glance at it :P

  2. Thank you for the input. Yes, I will own my "nerdfail".. truth be told I am not a Cyberpunk nerd.

    I started this post a month ago, when I first started it I was using a different title but the math worked out better with "Bladerunner" being "written" in 1982. Actually it was the screenplay and movie worked on in 1982 (loosely) based on the novel you mentioned which was written in the 1960s.

    So ample laziness in my writing is to blame. Apologies to all ;)

  3. About Cyberpunk settings set in year that is near us, and we don't see that happening. Like CP2020. Year 2020 is not far away, but it is hard to imagine that life will differ so much from now. So, I think that cyberpunk settings are like alternative reality. Something happened in 80's (or what ever year it is) and that altered the future, so quite possibly all that stuff might happen in year 2020 represented in CP genre.

    Don't forget Cyberpunk 2020 rules:

    1) Style over substance
    2) Attitude is everything
    3) Always take it to the edge
    4) Break the rules

    Good luck on your project.

  4. Thaumiel, Thank you for the post. I agree that the "best" way to address the way to cover the idea of accelerated technology is to use an alternate reality, that is the best way to have fidelity with the time spans used in most sci-fi/cyberpunk stories.

    I plan to take a more realistic approach where near future "cyberpunk" is fun and believable. It is so easy to forget that the fact we are interacting this way over the Internet right now was only realistic in 1982 if you were an avid reader of fiction.. we live in pretty amazing times.

  5. I don't get what you are saying about university researchers, Facebook/Twitter/Myspace users.
    Punk is about smashing authority, shocking people, tearing down traditional values. If anything Facebook & Myspace are tools put out by the man to keep the masses obsessed with stupid games and quizzes instead of noticing that 1% of the population controls over 25% of the wealth and those civil rights we used to love have quietly slipped away.


  6. "Punk" used to be anything that countered traditional values but also a independent attitude. That independent attitude has Iranian protesters using Twitter and Facebook to organize. Independent bands put music up on MySpace and start fanbases and organize shows. University researchers are at the forefront of security "research" (hacking) as well as open source programming and other high tech pursuits. Yes, the traditional image of a teen with a mowhawk screaming "F$%#K YOU" is not punk anymore...


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