Gaming in the Gibson Continuum
The Tears of Envy blog has a project on called Cyberpunk 1984 (not Orwell, but the year Neuromancer was published) capturing Cyberpunk as an artistic movement.
Cyberpunk has been and gone. The successor to cyberpunk is–what? Transhumanism, I suppose, given the promise of GURPS Transhuman Space and Eclipse Phase.
GURPS is all about the cross-genre toolkit, of course; so it’s not surprising that the Cross-Genre Cyberpunk sidebar in GURPS Cyberpunk (1990) mentions GURPS Space, with this rather prescient statement:
“The big thing to remember about far-future cyberpunk is that it will be truly ultra-tech. The mind and body changes available to a 23rd-century Solid Citizen would probably amaze, disgust and frighten that 2050 netrunner!”
The first edition of the Cyberpunk rpg is set in 2013. The future is here, with chrome, shoulderpads and big hair.
Interface Zero is purported to be an updated Cyberpunk for our wireless, overlayed augmented reality HUD world. From what I know of IZ it appears to embrace transhumanism as well as updating technology to include wireless communication, etc.
But what if that’s not what I want? What if I want to run a truly anachronistic CP2013 (or 2020) game? Something that harkens back to the unbelievably dated 80s premise, big hair and corporate greed and all? That would require quite a suspension of disbelief. Off the top of my head a few features of a “Gibson Continuum” are:
1. Always plugged in. There is no wireless in the Gibson Continuum. Manual emergency disconnects from a cyberdeck before black ICE hits may result in physical damage to the cranial sockets. It’s going to be a PITA for Solos with smartlinks to their weapons, too–they’re likely to snag that flying lead on every doorknob and coat hook. Unless it’s 2013 and there are no more coat racks, punk.
2. Tiny screens and massive storage. That’s right, the highest tech computer uses a 14in green-on-black CRT. At the same time, information storage is on good old reliable standard: VHS. Or maybe Laserdisc, if you’re lucky.
3. Stuff is heavy; that Cyberdeck weighs at least 8lbs, and your VHS video camera is huge. Cybernetic eyes may require hardware exernal to the eye socket. Overall the Gibson Continuum’s encumbrance rules eclipse the cyberware humanity rules.
5. High profile body-mod labs with brand-name flash (Sendai dermatrodes, etc.)
6. Exotic locations with portmanteau identifiers, e.g. San Angeles.
7. Neon and chrome.
8. Literal mapping in Cyberspace where nodes correspond to virtual 3D space–so if you want to shop online, you need to enter the virtual store and go to the correct shelf for your goods.
9. Relative ease of living “off the grid”; satellite imaging is behind our current tech, personal GPS doesn’t exist.
10. Orbital communities.
11. Vector graphics.
12. Rockerboys, Fixers, and Solos, oh my.
That’s all for now. The list will grow and be refined–especially after mining the visual media list for inspiration.
Visual Media List
A brief list of media for visual style cues. Most of these come from the GURPS:CP list, though a couple (Until the End of the World, Wild Palms) post-date the book.
Until The End Of The World
The Running Man
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
Afterword: Essay List
p>A Cyberpunk Manifesto
Notes Towards a Post-Cyberpunk Manifesto (Slashdot; linked from the Tears of Envy blog post)
Eutopia (sic) is Scary (uses the same quotation I used above from GURPS Cyberpunk) and the (maybe a bit more relevant) follow up essay, Why is the future so absurd?
Two mentions of The Gibson Continuum: this blog post and this Science Fiction Studies essay by Thomas A. Bredehoft