James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Blog > Post

RPG WTF 2: Cyberpunk 2020

1 Jun, 2020


Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

This may be a misnamed series, because in this case the detail I am very sure I know exactly what the company was thinking.

R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk (later Cyberpunk 2020) adapted the cyberpunk genre to gaming (and did it without getting the FBI coming down on them like a ton of technically illiterate bricks). As far as the game itself goes, it’s about what one would expect: lots of focus on the surface details of cyberpunk1, not much awareness of any depth in the fiction. Ah, well. Nothing stopping players from adding layers to their game.

The reason I single R. Tal out is because their cover art inspired me to think about how I shelved games. A large fraction of my clientele were women and I didn’t want the first thing they saw when they came in to be something like this. 

I’d like to think this was because I was a particularly insightful but really, it only occurred to me after I overheard two customers complaining about the porn comics another store kept near the register to reduce shrinkage. Cue a bit of reshelving, with the R Tal moved to a side room, and companies like White Wolf and Dreampod 9 in the front.

The reason for the soft core porn art seems pretty obvious: the company thought it would help sell their books, which paints an interesting image of their customer base’s demographics. Sure, the art may potentially alienate a fair swath of the people who see it but that’s really only an issue if you thought the people it puts off were going to buy it in the first place.

1: And made up slang, which happens to be one of those details that grate on me.