Cyberpunk, Tim Soret & Last Night: missing the point of a genre, entirely; and everything else really...[image heavy]


#1

Just to make a few things clear from the start. This isn’t some kind of “call-out”, or a call for a boycott or anything like that. This is a critique of a game (and it’s creator) that claim to be something, and are clearly the anti-thesis of what they claim to be.









And so there’s no mystery about what Tim Soret believes, here’s some choice tweets

Tim Soret clearly sees himself as some sort of rebel against the system…except that to him the system isn’t Late-Stage Capitalist Alienation, or the Prison Industrial Complex, or the Military Industrial Complex, or anything that it actually is; to Tim, the system is apparently Feminists, anyone who disagrees with him on the internet ever, and anyone fighting for a better world. Needless to say, he isn’t a rebel against anything, in fact he’s clearly the exact opposite. He looks at the people trying to solve the problems of the world as the problem, and the actual problem(s) as a good thing. His game is a product of this warped mentality, entirely. So much so that it’s anti-cyberpunk, it’s literally the antithesis of the genre he claims it is.

Cyberpunk is literally “high-tech, low-life”, it’s all about the paradox of radicals using technology to rebel against the technocratic, corporate system. Cyberpunk at it’s core is all about class struggle and fighting against an unjust world where a disparity between people who have everything and people nothing exists, at all. Cyberpunk looks at the neoliberal world, a world of simultaneous abundance and scarcity; and rejects it in favor of literal revolutionary class struggle for something that, even in the vaguest of implications, can only be a socialist society of one stripe or another.

Am I saying that everyone who’s made a Cyberpunk story is a Socialist? No, of course not. What I am saying is, Cyberpunk is inherently revolutionary and Leftist by it’s very nature. There’s no such thing as a Capitalist class struggle, because 99% of the world’s population have no Capital. So regardless of someone’s personal political leanings, Cyberpunk is Anti-Capitalist to it’s very core. It’s not neon lights and Android sex workers, all of that is aesthetics of Cyberpunk, window dressing. So Last Night isn’t Cyberpunk. It might have some aesthetics associated with or inspired from Cyberpunk. Other than the window dressing, it’s the literal anti-thesis of the genre, and so is it’s creator.


#2

I feel like this has a place here.


#3

Very good take down on how I feel about this game and its creator. The entire thing feels off the mark, like people who make overtly bad movies without understanding the actual charm of bad movies.

It’s interesting to note that the game’s description of a dystopia is literally a utopia in Ian M. Banks’ Culture series. An idyllic world where robots and AI take care of almost everything to the point where people are free to do and be whatever they want. You can even freely leave the Culture and the Culture would do everything they can to ease your transition into whatever society you want to join (even becoming a different species). And other societies fucking hate the Culture.

It’s super weird to see somebody miss the point completely. It almost comes across as a realization of those over the top 4chan “future of feminism” posts, the kind where they fantasize about being persecuted just because they’re a straight male. I wouldn’t doubt there was some of that in the game.


#4

I thought the game looked really cool from the trailer, I think it’s unfortunate that the entire conversation around the game is about some reprehensible things that he said on the twitter.

I’ll be interested to see how these ideas are presented in the game, I’m trying to imagine a situation in which we have to “Press X to end the Matriarchy” but I suppose I’ll have to wait and see.


#5

I just can’t get over the idea that The Last Night takes place in a “world where feminism won”.

Give me that world, please?


#6

I heard this guy was uh a-hole and was tbh still willing to look into the game, but if it’s got all his poop views up in it I gotta pass. I don’t care HOW nice it looks.

…Man it looks so nice tho, UGH. Oh well! I hope everyone who shares his whack perspective enjoys their fake cyberpunk experience. Plenty of other games out there.


#7

Yeah, the story of this game sounds like a case of Goliath dressing up as David.

I feel like there is a proper way to create the story the dev wants to create, but as the op posits, the dev has a complete delusion to how economic forces effect creativity.

I mean, as the trailer didn’t give a great idea of how the game plays, the only thing we really have to talk about is the aesthetic and the description of the game on its steam page. The aesthetic is admittedly wonderful. But the other things we know about the game are concerning. Once again, there’s a way to make this sort of story work, but I don’t have faith in Soret pulling that off given his toxicity in real life.


#8

Man that was such a nice trailer and I was so excited but yeah, gonna give this a hard pass now. I’m all for attempting to separate art from artist, but I have my limits and eugenics is one of them.


#9

I find it a lot harder to separate the art from the artist when the art posits the toxic viewpoint of the artist themself. See also: Rimworld (though I don’t know how that is in its current state)


#10

I think Soret’s a tit and loathe his politics but tbh I have always disliked the notion that you have to subscribe to the idealogy of a 40 year old music trend if you want to put a bunch of neon rain and cool cyborgs in your game.

Like, you can say cyberpunk is inherently left wing and anti-authoritarian but fantasy is inherently right wing and authoritarian and when people subvert that we think it’s cool and interesting.

So maybe actually the notion that politics are inherent to an aesthetic is bollocks and what we’re actually saying is we like things with good politics and dislike things with bad politics, which is fine, but we should just admit that.

To be clear I think his premise is utter garbage but if you just want to tell a straight murder mystery or whatever in a cyerbpunk setting without any ‘punk’ politics I think that’s fine. I don’t want to gatekeep that.


#11

Cyberpunk was a genre before it was an aesthetic.

That said, I don’t necessarily disagree that invoking the aesthetic of cyberpunk separate from the genre is a bad thing. It’s unfortunate that we don’t naturally use different language to separate the two.


#12

Genres should be descriptive not prescriptive. I really do not care ever for “does this work actually technically fit in this genre?” That’s not criticism, it’s filing.


#13

New words are not a sin. Cyberpunk was a new word used to describe the genre that became cyberpunk. Sure, language changes all the time, and you’ll never find me genuinely arguing against that evolution.

But why can we not find a new word to describe what The Last Night is aiming to be? Genres exist for a reason: filing. Cyberpunk is a category that The Last Night does not fit, except visually. If the definition of cyberpunk is to expand, so be it. But anti-capitalism is, or was, core to that definition. Making a new word that is distinct from the aesthetic (neon, augmentations, etc blah blah) would be the better solution, so that we can better differentiate between anti-capitalism, and pro-capitalism. Which are two directly contradictory concepts.


#14

I think separating the art from the artist is a complete myth anyway. People like to say they do it, but they don’t.

Firstly, they only ever say it when it’s because the artist is shitty in some way. I know I’ve heard people talk about how they like a creator and that makes them like their work even more but I never hear someone say ‘Well, I really like this creator as a person but I’m going to ignore that when I play the game because I like to separate the art from the artist’

Secondly I think all this ever does is reveal people’s biases. The same people who will defend someone’s crappy views in relation to a game they made will scour a game made by a feminist for signs of a ~feminist agenda~ and claim they’ve found it as soon as they encounter a female character.

Not liking someone’s politics is an excellent reason not to support someone’s work. Separating art from artist not only doesn’t really happen in practice, I’m not convinced its something we ought to aspire to.


#15

I’m staying far away from this game based on the creator’s views alone (but I’m not necessarily blaming people who do end up buying it – it does look visually cool). That said, I’m interested in what we call a world built on cyberpunk aesthetics that isn’t cyberpunk in politics. Like what is the opposite of punk. I feel like the obvious choice is fascist but that word feels like it’s losing a lot of meaning lately. Maybe cybercorporatism. Cyber-establishment. Cyber-status-quo. Cyber-conservatism. Cis-white-men-still-own-everything-but-claim-victimization-and-also-the-tech-is-cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if GG-supporting devs start making more games this way and I wonder if there’s an umbrella we’ll eventually put them under.


#16

Because language should also be descriptive rather than prescriptive? And frankly the vast majority of people are going to associate cyberpunk more with an aesthetic and a setting than a political ideal.

But call it something else if you want, I really don’t care, what annoys me is people demanding the games move into line with a political ideal just because they share the aesthetic and maybe called themselves cyberpunk at some point. That’s not broadening a genre, it’s narrowing it.

Cyberpunk as a narrowly defined genre is actually hopelessly outdated anyway. It’s a specific 80s vision of corporate dystopia that doesn’t really relate to the modern day. Remember a specific part of cyberpunk was that the corporate world would be taken over by Japanese style megacorps. That no longer makes any sense, so we’ve quietly dropped it, but no-one pops up arguing “it’s not real cyberpunk unless the currency is yen”.

EDIT - Ironically Austin wrote a cyberpunk game about climbing the corporate ladder, and I think that’s a perfectly valid thing to do.


#17

Except that we’re already kinda in that dystopia!


#18

No we aren’t. Our corporate dystopia is hoodie wearing Silicon Valley brogrammers, not suited Zaibatsu men. We’re worried about China or India taking over the economy, not Japan.


#19

That was meant to be a (not-so-)light-hearted comment to veer away from this argument I’d rather not continue. :stuck_out_tongue:

EDIT: I don’t mean to be dismissive. I just find arguments about language very frustrating (despite always voluntarily entering them because I am a butt).


#20

You’re right, people tend not to separate positive feelings of an artist from a work, it tends to only be a negative thing. And in a video game context, it does tend to happen the way you describe. However, I’ve got an example where people 100% separate a shitty man from his art: Miles Davis. Miles Davis was a huge asshole to everyone, played mind games with people, was abusive towards women. But he’s a jazz legend. We talk about him in jazz education, people listen to his music, we learn his style and try to play his solos.

Is it easier to not think about the man’s life because he’s not directly showing his political views in a wordless song? Do we accept some idealized version of this incredibly cool dude just effortlessly making music, rather than a guy who worked his ass off and was constantly trying to be on the cutting edge of music?

I think we do separate art from artists, probably often. However, I think when you have a situation where an artist/creative person is directly talking about their political views, whether in a piece of work or elsewhere, it becomes pretty hard to separate that from their work. But when politics takes a back seat (though of course it’s still there under the surface) I think we often do separate the art from its creator.

To be clear I 100% think this guy is horrible, and this game’s story or what the hell ever will be bad.