Escapism in a Familiar World: Why Cyberpunk 2077 Appeals to Everyone

Unfeeling, uncaring, corporations that control every aspect of our lives. Technology run amok. A Kafkaesque feeling that society is broken for everyone while everyone continues to break it. These are the main tropes of the Cyberpunk genre present in Cyberpunk 2077, an open-world role-playing game by CD Projekt Red. It’s ironic that the origin of Cyberpunk 2077 is a tabletop RPG called Cyberpunk 2020 because looking back on 2020, it really does feel like many of the bleak tropes of the cyberpunk genre became front and center in 2020. So why has Cyberpunk 2077 broken all kinds of sales records? Why do we all love being reminded of the despair we’d felt in 2020?

The difference between the type of city shown in Cyberpunk 2077 and its analogue in the real world is that in the game, we don’t engage in the “corpocracy” but instead work to destroy it. I don’t think I’d be making too big of a generalization if I said that everyone at some point wished they could buck the rules of society and do whatever they want. As the mercenary “V", every job or quest we do disrupts the order of things in some way whether its stealing a priceless technology prototype from a trillion dollar corporation, or getting dirt on a corrupt politician. There is zero consequences for failure, and due to it being a game, there’s an inevitably satisfying conclusion. It’s the perfect escapist fantasy for anyone regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, or income level.*

*(as long as they can afford the game and hardware needed to play it and is willing to put up with the bugs and actually has the time to do so because they aren’t working non-stop trying to support themselves)

Senior Product Manager, puzzle-solver, everything-hobbyist, and Amateur Gamer