CD Projekt Red Game Studio defends Transgender Characters

After a week juggling with so many heated arguments and disagreements over the featuring of hyper-erotic advertisement portraying the image of a transgender woman in Cyberpunk, a CD Red Projekt developer has told Gamasutra while defending their stand on better gender representation in its highly anticipated role-playing game.

While the studio debuted a new trailer for promoting the game during this year’s E3, the depiction of a transgender woman drew wild skepticism on major social media platforms – the image illustrated in a blog post later on Nvidia’s official website advertising its new ray tracing technology. The screenshot illustrated a dark stairwell illuminated by the radiance of several neon ads. One such poster ad for a drink called ChroManticore featured a character that appeared a female model in the first look but clearly has a male genital organ.

The depiction of transgender in the ad poster isn’t so very disputed if we look at bizarre depictions of other games but CD Projekt Red’s controversial past with transgender community raises some questions over the intentions of the studio. Last year, the studio posted a tweet some thought to have mocked the community, Kotaku said. “Did you just assume their gender?” the studio said to a fan in response who expressed his excitement to see more Cyberpunk 2077 content from the guys. The tweet was later removed by CD Projekt with an apology statement.

The studio commented that they are working on a transgender character option. The comment came after an exhausting argument with quest director Mateusz Tomaszkeiwicz that took control after developers and players offended the depiction of the ad-in character by expressing their rage and unrest online.

Polygon managed to get in touch with one of the developers who worked on the ad. They presented some clarifications and backgrounds over the attachment of an erotic image of a transgender but restrained from making comments on if players would like to play as a transgender.

Tomaszkeiwicz said in a statement that once the character building is finished, players will be able to modify the physical appearance and tone of voice of the characters to better match the gender they’d like to express.                  

For an in-depth understanding of Tomaszkeiwicz’s thoughts on the character representation, we have attached a copy of full comments on the subject below:

Gamasutra: We haven’t seen the full character selection screen. The team said it wasn’t finished yet. There are still many changes you all are making to the game. Has the team at all considered, given their use of [trans] characters like that in the game to depict cyberpunk, has the team thought about giving players that kind of choice over their character, to give themselves similar representation?

And if they’re not, has the team considered the gap between portraying characters like that, and limiting what you can have your players represent themselves as?

Tomaskiewicz: Of course. It’s a very sensitive and important subject I believe. We have put a lot of thought into this. One of the things we want to do in the final game (which we couldn’t show in the demo yet, because as you mentioned it’s a work in progress) is to give the players as many options of customization in the beginning of the game as we can.

For example, we want to do this thing where, as you create your character, after you choose the body type, you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman.

Gamasutra: Or nonbinary?

Tomaskiewicz: Or nonbinary. The idea is to mix all of those up, to give them to the players, as they would like to build it. Same goes for the voice. We wanted to separate this out, so the players can choose it freely. This is something we are still working on, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

This is one part of it. In terms of how we depict the characters within the setting itself, of course, yes, we are paying a lot of attention to it, we do not want anyone to feel like we are neglecting this, or treating it wrongly.

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