Ever since the announcement of Cyberpunk 2077 back in 2012, fans have been discussing how CD Projekt RED might address gender fluidity in the game's character creator. At E3 2018, a private demo revealed that the Cyberpunk 2077 character creator was limited to only two gender options: male and female. However, CD Projekt RED was quick to state that the character creator seen at E3 2018 was unfinished, and Cyberpunk 2077 quest designer Patrick Mills indicated that a gender fluid creator was something that had been "looked at."
By June 2019, the developer had apparently finished this process of looking into a non-binary character creator for Cyberpunk 2077, as CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwinski confirmed that the Cyberpunk character creation tool would be built around gender fluidity. Iwinski once again emphasized that the creator that was shown in the Cyberpunk E3 2018 demo was not representative of the final product and stated that the completed character creator would allow for "full fluidity."
Earlier this week, this was confirmed once again in an interview with CD Projekt RED senior concept artist Marthe Jokers, who indicated that Cyberpunk 2077 character creation will not ask players to select a gender for their characters. Instead, players will select a genderless body type with the Cyberpunk 2077 character creator and build their avatars from there. According to Jokers, this is indicative of CDPR's attempt to make Cyberpunk a game that is "really inclusive" and to allow players to "play the way they want."
This is in line with CDPR's stated goal of emphasizing player freedom in Cyberpunk 2077, and the push towards inclusiveness is what makes the gender fluid character creator something of import. While there have certainly been other games that have made efforts at a non-binary creation tool, such as 2018's BattleTech, Cyberpunk will present its character creator to a much larger audience and has the potential to encourage other developers to be more considerate of gender fluid players when building their creators.
For many fans, having full control over the creation of their avatars means that it is more likely that they will be able to build a character that is not in conflict with their own identification. While the Cyberpunk 2077 non-binary character creation tool may not prove to be flawless, it should allow more players to find a connection with their characters, and this could certainly be meaningful to those that have felt frustrated by the options available to them in the types of character creators that are most frequently encountered.
All of this said, it would be remiss to not mention that CD Projekt RED has spurred several controversies in the past with its statements about, and depictions of, non-binary people. In 2018, for instance, a tweet from the official Cyberpunk 2077 account referenced a meme that some consider to be demeaning to non-binary people. This prompted anger from some fans, and CDPR apologized for the tweet to "all those offended" quite promptly after it was made.
Additionally, an image from Cyberpunk containing a hypersexualized depiction of a trans person fueled some players' continued concern about CDPR's handling of gender earlier this year. After the controversy surrounding this in-game Cyberpunk 2077 poster came to the fore, the developer offered some insight into the image and emphasized that the "intention was never to offend anyone."
With this history in mind, it is possible that the Cyberpunk 2077 non-binary character creator may simply be CD Projekt RED's attempt to demonstrate its sensitivity amidst these controversies, rather than a true commitment to the promotion of inclusion. As such, the Cyberpunk creation tool may not be enough to improve the company's standing in the eyes of those left frustrated by its past actions.
However, regardless of the developer's goal with the gender fluid Cyberpunk 2077 character creator, the tool's push towards inclusion matters. Not only will it allow more Cyberpunk fans to feel represented, it is a step towards normalizing a development approach that looks to consider all players. Ultimately, this may lead to an overall increase in the number of games that feature gender fluid character creators and also encourage developers to be more thoughtful in their representations of non-binary people, which would certainly be appreciated by many.
Cyberpunk 2077 releases April 16 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.