“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” William Gibson: Neuromancer
“What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.” Phillip K. Dick: A Scanner Darkly
William Gibson's landmark Sprawl Trilogy depicted a neon-soaked future of powerful megacorporations, revolutions in biomedical science and cybernetics and a world where the line between cyberspace and reality would blur to an almost unrecognizable point. This jarring and prophetic vision of our near-future helped create one of the most iconic subgeneras of science fiction, cyberpunk. I'm also making an educated guess that our own Mr. Shoemaker is a massive fan of Neuromancer and the genera at large.
What is cyberpunk? I hopefully won't get this wrong, if not please correct/flame me. Cyberpunk settings are typically near-future worlds where technology has accelerated at a breakneck pace. Biological, cybernetic engineering and information technology has become highly advanced, but this isn't the happy idealistic world envisioned by science fiction optimists like Gene Roddenberry. These are worlds with deep social problems. Corporation personhood has mutated to nightmarish levels, even controlling private armies that rival governments. In some cyberpunk worlds, the corps ARE the government. Human augmentation has led to a new 1% that is literally more powerful than average citizens, thanks to bio-modification and cybernetic enhancement. Authoritarian corporations and governments use highly advanced surveillance technology to monitor the public with ease.
Cyberpunk protagonists are typically individuals who operate on the fringes of society. Drug-addicted undercover cops, bounty hunters, corporate agents and of course hackers are only some of the antiheroes that roam these worlds, operating in the shadows.
This genera in gaming has been passe in previous years, but it's reemerging. Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution have become smash hits and a sequel is in the works. Shadowrun has been raised from the dead thanks to Kickstarter. Other titles like Remember Me and Watch Dogs look highly promising. And Projekt Red have even announced a Cyberpunk 2077 game to be released in the near-future. If these titles live up to expectation is a question in of itself, but I'm absolutely delighted that cyberpunk in gaming and science fiction in general is having a sort of renaissance.