CD Projekt RED is slowly leaking out Cyberpunk 2077 footage and information to build up hype and do what CDPR do. We were already well aware that Cyberpunk 2077 was going to address several social issues from an extreme viewpoint, especially when it comes to the haves and the have-nots. But one character's reveal showed a social issue that is rather shocking, even for video games.
Real-life musician Grimes voices a character in Cyberpunk 2077, a pop star named Lizzy Wizzy. During one of Lizzy’s performances, she commits suicide on stage. Since the show must go on, she is revived as a cyborg and finishes out her concert. On the one hand, I do see that CDPR is trying to convey how little life really means in this world, not to mention the obvious question of whether your life and body belongs to you.
On the other hand, suicide is a very serious issue. Many times, the mode of suicide is not revealed publicly in autopsy reports and the like, because people have been known to use these modes as inspiration for their own plans. Showing a suicide, even in a video game, no matter how well-known a method is, is in extremely poor taste. For suicide survivors and families of suicide, the game appears to make light of their pain. Whether the game intends to or not is irrelevant.
What if we swapped out rape for suicide? What if Lizzy Wizzy was raped, either on stage or before/after the concert? Wouldn’t people be crying out how insensitive that would be to rape victims or making light of something as serious as rape? It wouldn’t matter what point CDPR was trying to make then, because most people would see the scene as grossly inappropriate and obscene.
And speaking of rape, another game recently made light of another serious issue, The Suicide of Rachel Foster. The game starts off seemingly innocent, as the player investigates into why her best friend committed suicide when she was a teenager. As the story unfolds, the player learns that what this is really about is how her mother killed Rachel out of jealousy because she was sleeping with the player’s father. Cue the record scratch.
That is all awful in of itself, but what’s worse is the fact that the game appears to be 100% cool with the fact Rachel was sleeping with her best friend’s father. The developers were careful to place the setting of the story in a state that only has statutory rape laws for kids under 16. Rachel was 16, so what happened wasn’t illegal, and therefore, it’s totes good.
Just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean that it’s not morally wrong and rather disgusting. Rachel was taken advantage of by an older man in power. She might have thought she loved him—what 16-year-old knows what love is?—and he may have believed he loved her. But she’s 16. He’s 30 at the bare minimum. This is still child molestation at the worst, repugnant and sleazy at best. And it’s all okay. They really loved each other, so it’s a tragic story, you see?
This acceptance of molestation/underage sex is no less disgusting than making light of a public suicide. At the very least, Cyberpunk 2077 is trying to make a message albeit in an insensitive way. Whatever the developers of The Suicide of Rachel Foster were trying to say, they seem to not understand that sex between a child and an adult is NOT the same thing as two teenagers or even a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old sleeping together.
In the attempt to be “edgy” and delivering strong messages, game developers seem to have forgotten that these are not issues to strut out on display and appear to make light of, especially since video games are far more interactive and immersive than books or film.