CD Projekt RED has confirmed Cyberpunk 2077 will not have any gender option in its character creator.
In an interview with the Metro, Marthe Jonkers, senior concept artist discussed the upcoming game, and the decision to remove the feature.
When asked if the recent controversy (over a transcharacter being used in an in-game advert) had changed how CD Projekt Red would handle such issues, Jonkers revealed the studio was aiming to make a game that was “really inclusive” and that the gender option had been removed for that:
Metro: Traditional science fiction tends to be strangely sexless and yet we see in the real world that that’s the first thing people think of when new technology emerges. But CD Project keep get themselves in trouble with the portrayal of gender and trans issues. Have you changed your approach to how you deal with those sorts of things in the last year or so?
Jonkers: You know, we really want to make a video game that’s really inclusive.
Metro: I’ve spoken to a number of your devs now and it’s obvious to me they’re trying to do the right thing, but it’s such a difficult subject.
Jonkers: Of course, if you tackle certain subjects then you will expect people to have an opinion about it and we respect that. And it’s good that people give us feedback. And our character creation menu, for instance, compared to the last demo we now give you so many more options. For instance, you don’t choose your gender anymore. You don’t choose, “I want to be a female or male character” you now choose a body type. Because we want you to feel free to create any character you want.
So you choose your body type and we have two voices, one that’s male sounding, one is female sounding. You can mix and match. You can just connect them any way you want. And then we have a lot of extra skin tones and tattoos and hairstyles. So we really want to give people the freedom to make their own character and play the way they want to play.”
The Metro continued, asking if due to the aforementioned controversy (and alleged others) that if the studio had brought in more people to consult with. Jonkers explained how CD Projekt Red asks for feedback (usually via a feedback form in physical sales), and that the team wanted to tackle complicated subjects.
“Metro: Have you specifically sought out a wider range of people to consult on the game, since all these controversies started flaring up?
Jonkers: Our team is very international and very diverse but we have asked for a lot of feedback. We always ask for feedback and even when we show these demos, we still ask people to tell us what they think.
[…] We just wanna know what we can improve on because we want to make a really good game and we really wanna make a game that everybody is comfortable playing. But at the same time we’ll tackle difficult issues. It is a cyberpunk world after all.
Metro: Are the sexual and self-identity issues something you tackle directly through missions and story or are they more just implied by the character creation tools?
Jonkers: We do tackle a lot of… complicated subjects, I’d say. Because we wanted to create a very believable cyberpunk world. Cyberpunk 2020 was also a world that had a very dark side and we are also showing this in Cyberpunk 2077, but we paint a picture and we let the player interpret it. We leave it up to the player to see what they think of the situations and how they would handle it.
So we’re trying to create a sort of realistic world, we’re trying not to shy away from cyberpunk themes. But at the same time we’re giving the freedom to the player to approach the situations how they want to.”
In case you missed it, you can find our thorough hands-on preview for Cyberpunk 2077 from this year’s E3, here.