Tradition, Desire, Techno-Orientalism and Popularity: Oriental Elements in the 21st-century Cyberpunk Video Games

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Chengkai XuWeiting LiLaila ZhongXuewei LiQingyuan LyuYuran GuoFang Liu

Abstract: Cyberpunk is one genre with distinctive features, which depicts an apocalyptic world seeing technology as associated with capitalist oligarchy with highly solidified social identity and social class (Akşit and Nazlı, 2021). Nowadays, research about cyberpunk video games mainly focuses on the visual aesthetics of cyberpunk video games (Johnson, 2017). We adopted content analysis first to identify the oriental visual elements in 6 video games: Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt RED, 2020) (CP2077), Gamedec (Anshar Studios, 2021), The Red Strings Club (Deconstructeam, 2018) (TRSC), VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (Sukeban Games, 2016) (VA-11 Hall-A), Shadowrun: Hongkong (Harebrained Schemes, 2015) (SRHK), and Tales of the Neon Sea (Palm Pioneer, 2019) (TNS), then analyze the historical and ideological reasons of using these elements on behalf of semiotic theory. This study reveals that using such elements in the 21st-century cyberpunk video games reinforces the stereotypes of Techno-Orientalism to a certain degree. However, these elements are mostly decontextualized as a representation of oriental culture and have no distinct error of oriental elements used but are mainly used to identify art style, which could be a helpful strategy for commercial selling.

Keywords: Cyberpunk, Video games, Orientalism, Textual analysis

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002894

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