Cyberpunk 2077 Artist Says Controversial In-Game Image Is Commentary On Corporations

Cyberpunk 2077 Artist Says Controversial In-Game Image Is Commentary On Corporations

A screenshot from Cyberpunk 2077 featuring a hypersexualised advertisement depicting a trans woman drew scepticism today on social media. The artist responsible has spoken up, claiming no offence was meant and that the art is a commentary on corporate marketing.

The image in question comes from an in-game advertisement for a product called Chromanticure, which appears to be a soft drink with multiple flavours that are meant to be mixed and matched. The screenshot containing the ad comes from an Nvidia announcement about ray-tracing in Cyberpunk 2077. The advertisement features a sexualised female model with a large penis visible underneath her clothes. The slogan reads “mix it up.”

Editor’s Note: Kotaku Australia contacted Nvidia, who published the screenshots yesterday, asking for comment about the character depicted in the background of the Cyberpunk 2077 screenshot. Nvidia declined to comment, only saying that the screenshots were supplied by CD Projekt RED. — Alex

The somewhat-teasing slogan and prominent genitalia drew a reaction on Twitter, with some users expressing scepticism or confusion about the advertisement’s context and purpose. In an interview with Polygon, CD Projekt Red artist Kasia Redesiuk spoke about artwork.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sexualizing trans bodies. They can be beautiful. But there’s an aspect here that does feel a bit fetishistic.

“Personally, for me, this person is sexy,” Redesiuk said to Polygon. “I like how this person looks. However, this model is used — their beautiful body is used — for corporate reasons. They are displayed there just as a thing, and that’s the terrible part of it.”

Redesiuk added, “Cyberpunk 2077 is a dystopian future where megacorporations dictate everything. They try to, and successfully, influence people’s lives. They shove products down their throats. They create those very aggressive advertisements that use, and abuse, a lot of people’s needs and instincts. So, hypersexualisation is apparent everywhere, and in our ads there are many examples of hypersexualised women, hypersexualised men, and hypersexualised people in between.”

CD Projekt Red and associated CD Projekt entities like GOG have previously come under fire for social media faux-pas involving trans people. Last August, the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account made an “attack helicopter” joke, a joke that has historically been used to mock gender identity and presentation. The studio later apologised.

In October, the GOG Twitter account appropriated the hashtag #WontBeErased to talk about their catalogue of computer games. The hashtag’ originated as a way to raise awareness of a Trump administration memo about narrowing the legal definition of “sex” in federal law.

While the cyberpunk genre does focus on corporate manipulation, it’s also a genre coloured by the anxieties of the time it was created. In Cyberpunk as a tabletop roleplaying game, a mechanic called Humanity denotes someone’s fundamental connection to their body and their human nature. This value can be reduced to dangerous levels with too many cyber-modifications.

Sex changes lower a player’s Humanity score in some rulebooks for Cyberpunk 2020. Players with a low enough Humanity enter into a violent state called cyberpsychosis. In real life, trans people don’t need to worry about going cyber-psychotic. (Shocking, I know!) I just take my hormones every day and enjoy fantastic benefits like softer skin. We’ll have to wait until Cyberpunk 2077 comes out to see how much humanity, sex changes, or cyberpsychosis will be incorporated.

Redesiuk offered an apology to those who were troubled by the in-game advertisement.

“I would say it was never the intention to offend anyone,” Redesiuk said. “However, with this image of an oversexualised person, we did want to show how oversexualisation of people is bad. And that’s it.”


        • People might not have noticed initially. When I reached out to Nvidia they had no idea what was in the background of the screenshot and were genuinely impressed that I was asking about it. Glad we did ask about it, though, because we know more about the make up of CP2077’s world now. But I am a bit surprised that a company that large would just pump out screeners worldwide and not see a massive neon dick in the background. But hey.

          • well to be fair alex, it hard to spot unless you clicked on the picture to see it in full as it was a 4k shot i believe so looking at it 1080p you dont really notice it. Of course its also one those “Cannot Unsee” once youve seen it

          • I must admit I had to zoom the image before I realised what was going on.

            The interesting flipside to the issue is that you can look at it as in 2077 being Trans is so accepted it’s being used to sell soft drinks. So it’s a bit dystopian but at the same time somewhat affirming.

      • I’ve now read articles linked on that forum that are so outrageous, bordering on conspiracy theory and am literally speechless.

        • Oh man it’s an absolute hive mind. Having a different opinion usually results in a ban when it comes to topics like this. I usually enjoy reading the discussions and there are plenty of reasonable posters there, but then there’s also a lot of full on militant outrage specialists.

          I genuinely wonder how some of them function when leaving their house – if they ever do.

          • Yes definitely, but sadly I’m referring to other websites that they’ve linked on there to discuss – daily dot one in particular is just peak…

  • TBH if the article hadn’t pointed it out… I wouldn’t have known. All I saw initially was just an in-universe advertisement.

    • Strangely enough, I did notice it the first time I saw the image. I thought it was cool, but I also think CDPR’s record on these things is not great.

      Then again, the more I see of Cyberpunk, the more I feel like William Gibson was right with his initial assessment of the game. At this point, Watch Dogs Legion feels like a more cyberpunk game than Cyberpunk does.

      • It’s probably because I haven’t clicked to see the larger image – when I do that it’s much more obvious. I don’t tend to click images unless I’m particularly interested, it isn’t quite so obvious from the thumbnail.

      • The problem with that assessment of the game not being cyberpunk is we really haven’t seen much of the game at all. William Gibson was making that assessment of the cinematic trailer, which is a linear short story that has zero cyberpunk whatsoever. It seems odd for him to comment at all, I suspect too many people were just bugging him about it.

        Does that represent the game though? Nope. We do know that Cyberpunk 2077 has cyberspace and hacking, however, have so far seen little of it. Judging it this early based on two highly linear looks at the game seems very premature. Even then there were several instances in the early gameplay shown already that clearly put the game in “cyberpunk” territory.

  • Let’s all keep living in our little bubbles where we pretend the world isn’t a capitalistic and rotten place where the human body can be used to sell a product or be sold as one. If we ignore the bad things and never draw attention to them maybe they’ll go away on their own without us ever having to acknowledge or be made to feel uncomfortable by them.

    Personally I think it’s a good representation of where we’ll end up if we keep going down this road. It also fits into the notion of a transhumanist society where the lines of gender and humanity have become so blurred that transgender people become commonplace and exploited in the same way cisgendered men and women are in modern day society.

    • As another comment in this thread points out, it’s the fact that it’s the first/only depiction of a trans person so far. If this is the only way trans people are going to be depicted then that’s a bit disappointing. As you say, this is the perfect setting to explore trans positive depictions, especially allowing you to play as trans/non-binary, but currently that does not appear to be the case. That’s what people are concerned about.

    • This is a surprisingly nuanced take. Probably more than the image deserves or the artist/marketing/developers put in themselves.

  • Yeah. I’m the resident defender of these kinds of articles but I’m not seeing it here.

    So the basic argument seems to be… sexualised men in dystopian cyberpunk future okay, sexualised women in dystopian cyberpunk future okay, sexualised asexual robot bodies in dystopian cyberpunk future okay, sexualised transexuals in dystopian cyberpunk future not okay?

    Cyberpunk is the very definition of gender and body fluid imagery, with the right surgery and implants you can be whoever you want to be. It would be weird if trans people were not represened in advertising in that world.

    • I am with you buddy… it’s just for the clicks, no one with an ounce of common sense would get genuinely offended by something that fits in a fictional, futuristic universe. People are trying to inject allegory where there is none. If it’s that offensive to you, then don’t play it.

      • We must enforce our moral prerogatives on everyone else, that will fix our long history of enforcing moral prerogatives, via religion…..

    • The fact that you’re using outdated terminology proves you’re not really fully equipped to understand this one.

      As a trans person? This would be disgusting from any developer. From CDPR, who had a transphobe making openly bigoted comments on their social media? This is literally the most insulting thing I’ve seen a gaming company do in my memory.

    • Not so much that trans people are sexualized, but that this is the first and so far only trans depiction shown. As another comment points out, unless they let you play as trans or have fleshed out trans characters, then it’s really just lip service, and a poor one at that.

  • Let me try to put this in some more perspective: I’d really like to see a triple A game that represents someone like me in a major capacity (I’m not asking for all games, most games, or even some games right now, just one game).

    Cyberpunk is a perfect game for a trans/nb character to exist without a huge uproar like the Boulders Gate fiasco. It is well established that trans/nb folk exist in this universe. So it’s a bit of a disappointment when the first image of a trans person to be shown boils down to a “look at this chick with a big ol dong” joke.

    In a vacuum this image suits the world, cyberpunk aesthetic is based around corporations fetishising everything, but unless the game let’s us play as that character, or at least have characters like that as a fleshed out person, then they are just using trans people as windowdressing.

    Between the #wontbeerased and the “did you just assume their gender” tweet, CD Projekt Red haven’t exactly sold me that they spend much headspace putting trans/nb first, so I feel like I have every right to be skeptical how well CD Projekt Red will treat people like me in the final product.

    • I can’t thumbs-up your comment because Kotaku AU’s system is weirdly broken and I can’t use a non-guest account, but know that this is a spiritual thumbs-up. Thank you for actually knowing what the hell’s going on instead of just circlejerking over ‘BUT IT’S SATIRE’.

      Maybe it is. But I don’t trust CDPR to say a word about people like me, satirical or not, and I’m disappointed this game is going to sell gangbusters no matter how many people call them out on this crap.

    • So it’s a bit of a disappointment when the first image of a trans person to be shown boils down to a “look at this chick with a big ol dong” joke.
      Meanwhile until YOU said it was a joke… I, one of those pesky straight white males, never considered that it was intended as a joke.

      Not even a little bit.

      But I know what you’re going to say… That I’m just ignorant, and it’s not at all possible you’re seeing some injustice here that simply didn’t exist until you created it.

      • I intentionally didn’t sledge anyone (everyone) who said that this was a non-issue, and I did so for a reason. I don’t want to drag cis people for not feeling what I feel about the issues that affect me specifically.

        All I wanted to do was share how I feel about the issue and why.

        • I think your take on it was pretty well measured. I still think it’s too early to make intimate judgement calls on it though.

        • You literally cannot fucking win, can you?
          Hopefully they have the opportunity to play as a trans/nb character. Not holding my breath though.

    • I didn’t see it as a joke or even a cyberpunk thing. I saw it as an ad from the future.
      Marketing will exploit any one exactly as they are now. Do you think most of the companies campaigning for LGBTQAI+ rigjts are doing it for moralistic reason? No it’s for the money. So there’s no reason no to beleive they won’t do it in the future. We already have transgendered people in fashion advertising and that’s now. I see no joke in this at all.
      (I said most companies not all, there are one’s who genuinely do it for the right reason).

    • But then you run into the old, “this trans/nb character is so poorly written/is treated like a joke/insert any other outrage you get when someone writes a minority character when they themselves are not said minority character”.

      Want to know why there are basically zero representation of a main character that represents “someone like you”? I’d hazard a guess that it’s because there is basically zero people in that role, in that industry, that are capable of fleshing out a fully idealised representation of what you want without people like you (pluralised) poking holes at it for being incorrect in some way.

      How do we fix this problem? Simple. Encourage said minorities to get into the games industry and carve out those paths.

      You know.. Unless you all need straight white men to save you and do all the work for you, which seems to be the case more often than not.

      • Perhaps the writers could just talk to someone of the same minority as the character they’re writing? Ask them for critiques? Not that hard. But hey. Good on you for defending us white dudes. We do have it hard having everything catered towards us.

        • Far from white. But well done.

          Your casual racism aside. I’ve been to many different panels discussing such things, yes even panels hosted by those of the LGBT community, and they all say the same thing, unless it is written and created by someone from that group, it comes off as wrong. You can ask as many questions and for as much critiquing as you want, but the subtle nuances that are inherent to different groups of people are largely lost on those not belonging to said group.

          But you’re just a white dude, you wouldn’t know about that would you *rolls eyes*

          • Assuming ones race based on preconceived ideals, regardless whether they are correct or not, is racist… It’s called stereotyping and generalising. And no, I said “casual racism” not “subtle racism”. You had an entire week to respond and you still couldn’t get it right.

            As for my panels, I’d take their word over a virtue signalling white dude trying to champion a cause to appear “woke”.

          • lol at subtle casual racism.
            Honestly, just lol at nuffman using virtue signalling unironically.

          • Lol at a white dude trying to explain to a person of colour that they aren’t being racist.

            Lol, you’re no different from your grandpa saying “I’m not racist, I have a black friend.”

            Go ask your social studies teacher if you, a white dude, can define racism.

            You got called out Chad. You’re not woke, you’re an idiot. Now run along before someone hands you a shovel to help you dig that hole you’ve found yourself in.

          • I’ve never been called a Chad before. That’s sure as shit new to me.
            Still funny that my original comment was called racist. But hey, man. Sure. You go for it. Those goal posts and entire point of the original comment and conversation have now changed to what you wanted to win at.
            That’s solid work.

          • Shit. I just noticed I never even called you white, which you just assumed. And then changed the entire conversation to reflect on a throw away. That’s really good work.

          • The don’t use inclusive language, without specifying that you aren’t including me in it.. but considering it’s been 15 days now since, I’m going to go ahead and call BS.

            Especially since anyone that read your comment read it in the exact same context.

            Typical of your sort. Get caught out then backpedal, changing the story to suit what you want.

        • Nice casual racism in your comment.

          Oh right, When it’s against whites its not racism because that’s the backwards logic you lot have.

      • Honestly, the game to have trans person as a major character probably will have some lazy writing, and there probably will be people that criticise the game for it. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

        Me being critical of something does not mean that I’d rather it not exist, it means I want to be included in the dialogue to make something better. If I didn’t think it was worth fixing, I wouldn’t engage with it.

        The major frustrations only come when studios release something and refuse to acknowledge feedback, and that’s the same with trans/nb representation as it is with boring level design, as it is with balancing issues, or anything else that stops people enjoying themselves while playing.

        • Part of the problem is to do it right means they need to add more complexity, cost and time to the already complex, expensive and drawn out process of game creation. I suspect at least at times the decision comes down to money rather than actual dislike or ignorance. If it’s going to cost another million dollars to make will we make more than a million back?

          And that’s before you get to the negative publicity issues. If they do it “wrong” they offend the non-CIS community which can impact sales. And whether they do it right or wrong they’ll offend the portion of the community that’s close minded. So again, will being more inclusive make them more money than it loses them?

          It’s the reason there are more interesting indie games featuring non-binary characters and themes. Mainly because they aren’t beholden to a board of directors and shareholders for the money the game costs and in turn earns.

    • The problem I have with what you’re proposing (allowing playable Trans characters) is that it would still be taken to be an attack on Trans people. Literally everything companies do is taken badly and usually out of context. Don’t have a Trans character, they hate Trans people. Have a Trans character, it’s a token act, or worse an offensive charicature.

      Honestly, I’m happy for them to include the option, especially in a game like this where everything is body modification and human identity. I just feel like they’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

  • Satire requires a clarity of purpose and target last it be taken for and contribute to that which it attempts to criticize.

    What is this image criticizing?

  • Why can’t transgender people be allowed in advertising?

    What is the honest problem here?

  • All I saw was cool cyberpunk advert.
    I saw the hypersexual nature of it, and still thought it was cool.
    It fits perfectly into the dystopian cyberpunk setting.

  • Probably the best example of faux outrage I’ve seen in absolutely ages. Every article I’ve seen trashing this has been from the same sources asking trans people to be treated and sexualised along the same lines as straight/gay people in the past. Well, here you go. Now the outrage mob comes in torches flaming. Sorry, but the advertisement is fantastic, it embodies everything Cyberpunk ever was and has been, and has that tiny little snag that makes it 10x even better when you can’t unsee it 🙂

    I mean, I do agree wholeheartedly that the whole cyberpsychosis aspect linked to transexuality needs to be changed and shouldn’t continue as it once did, now that it’s a more understood situation in life, there’s no longer the mystery and misinformation there once was. But that poster, that’s just damn good 🙂

  • I’m neither here nor there about the inclusion of this ad in Cyberpunk. Seems pretty uncontroversial. But the irony of people being outraged about so-called ‘outrage’ is pretty delicious. Ya’ll seem like the snowflakes in this instance.

  • It boils down to the fact that this is very likely the only representation that trans people will have in this game. And it’s a disappointment and sucks because they deserve better and this is the perfect game to have that representation for them.
    It’s not a difficult concept, really.

    • How do you know it’s a fact if you haven’t even played the game? Its almost as if you are making stuff up just to be outraged over nothing.

      • Good point. I’d also like to see more of the game before making judgments like that. I’m pretty sure I saw some ads in the trailer showing sexualized images of women too. If the game pans out that it’s only treats Trans people in a negative light then sure it deserves the negative reviews. But for one image in a an early trailer… not so much.

  • You’re not incorrect, but the voice that does nought but criticise the implementation of said characters as “generic” or “lazy” and flat out lambasting said company/game for it, calling it insensitive and wanting heads to roll, is far louder and reaches many more ears than the voice that echo’s your comments. Especially from a group, that really, for a corporation that deals in numbers, is statistically irrelevant. So why would they want to cater specifically to a group that at the end of the day, does nothing but criticise them (as I said, the louder voices), and in terms of revenue equates to church change?

    Like I said, if people want change and want it done right, they’re gonna have to do it themselves. Sure there’ll be people that can and will help here and there, but until someone from that group makes an actual attempt at it, there would always be a stench of tokenism, generalism, catering, shoehorning and all those other negatives associated with non-LGBT, creating LGBT characters.

    I’m still hopped up on Oxy from throat surgery, so I think I went a little bit on a tangent or something. But I hope you get my gist.

    • Drops comment about throat surgery on Cyberpunk thread…

      You sneaky git… you got altered! What throat mod did you get!!! O_O

      • Haha. One that alters sleep. Absolute prick of a thing. Had my nose done last year for the same reason, 6hr surgery and needed zero painkillers afterwards.

        The wife digs my new voice though

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