From generation to generation, society is divided between climates of complete optimism about the future, and the exact opposite through an incurable pessimism. These factors undoubtedly end up influencing the media production of these groups, which add to the stories the seasoning of the climate in which they are involved.

The 1980s saw this type of “fight” strongly. On the one hand, the return of economic thinking with a focus totally on the market led young people and adults to build fortunes through new jobs and financial investments ranging from stocks to the construction of entire neighborhoods. And on the opposite side, there were the “strays” who felt forgotten by these bonanzas, and who through history saw that the foundations of this unbeatable optimism were as fragile as a sandcastle on a day of high tide.

The cyberpunk genre and the unbeatable pessimism in its stories

It is from this more pessimistic side of history that the cyberpunk genre has developed. The same has its origins in the previous decades, the 1960s and 1970s, during the new age where some of the hippies were concerned with global trends in social, economic and even environmental issues.

Source: “The Last Night is a Pixel Art Cyberpunk Adventure” by BagoGames (CC BY 2.0)

Already there, the reservations regarding the hyper-commodification of life and everything that it involves were raised. This tradition carried over into the histories to come, as the political climate of the 1980s simply confirmed the fears of earlier pessimists.

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The theme that initially appeared in books and magazines also spilled over into the world of games. Visual elements can be found in recent slot games such as slots from the Matrix and Terminator Genisys franchises, and in video games from the Shadowrun and System Shock series. These last two are also part of the theme of scripts in the cyberpunk genre, showing dystopian futures in their plots.

The same followed in RPG. The GURPS system has had a cyberpunk supplement since 1990, which is also one of the most famous versions of the brand. But even so, the great reference is the Cyberpunk system, created in the 1980s by Mike Pondsmith.

Source: “Cyberpunk 2077 Won’t Ship With Multiplayer” by BagoGames (CC BY 2.0)

At the time, Mike imagined that the economic post-apocalypse scenario would be experienced in 2013, which shows the pessimism of the movement’s followers in past decades. In this world, the fall of nations left power in the hands of mega-corporations that turned consumer markets into veritable battlegrounds. A world without regulation also ends up leading to social ruin, where hunger and misery are the norm.

This story will gain a new look soon through The Witcher studio, CD PROJEKT RED, which is in the process of producing and releasing Cyberpunk 2077. we can count on more post-apocalyptic pessimism that will inevitably make us think about what can be done so that such projections are not fulfilled.

The cyberpunk genre and the unbeatable pessimism in its stories

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And these kinds of issues being raised through games is indeed a positive thing. Although there are many complaints about the mix between politics and the media in recent times, this is just a sign of how we are more aware of this since these elements have always been mixed. So, instead of simply rejecting what’s in front of us, why not be receptive to reflection?