Interview with Cyberpunk Creator The Neon Arcade

NeonArcadeBeer

Up Close and Personal with Cyberpunk 2077 Content Creator The Neon Arcade

The Neon Arcade is a YouTube content creator with almost 50k subscribers on YouTube. Focusing solely on the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game, he describes his channel as a destination for news, lore, details, analysis, game play, and eventually playthroughs when the game comes out in November.

“Look forward to high quality and informative guides, how-tos, and tips & tricks for YOU GUYS so that you can get the upper hand in the oppressive and treacherous world of NIGHT CITY!”–The Neon Arcade

The Neon Arcade is perhaps one of the best sources of information on the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, breaking down history, classes, playthrough styles, and much more. But who exactly is The Neon Arcade, and what can he tell us about the Cyberpunk genre? Let’s find out.

How did you get introduced to Cyberpunk (the genre)?

I got introduced to the Cyberpunk genre mainly because of my interest in philosophy, psychology, and cerebral films, oddly enough. I was googling some mind-bending movies to watch many years ago and I stumbled upon Ghost In The Shell. I couldn’t say I was a huge anime fan, but the art style looked subdued enough where it seemed more approachable and accessible to me, and something about the name and synopsis drew me in. I watched it and absolutely loved it; it was one of those movies you just thought about a lot in the subsequent days after viewing, and it made a lasting impression on me. At the time I had no idea there was such a thing as the Cyberpunk genre or that it even fit into that category, I just thought it was a really awesome dystopian city of the future / cerebral thriller-type movie. I honestly don’t remember how I stumbled upon the genre as a whole, but It must have been after I watched Akira a few years after, and then was re-introduced to Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 2018. I had seen the Cyberpunk 2077 teaser in 2013, but it wasn’t until after I watched movies in the genre unknowingly that it came full circle in 2018 and I started doing my research and found out there was a label for the genre as a whole.

The Neon Arcade twitter

2. What made you decide to start The Neon Arcade? When did it start? And how did it become what it is today?

I started the Neon Arcade because I’m always doodling and thinking of ideas or drawing logos for brands I make up in my head, and just letting my imagination run wild. I remember doodling an idea for a gaming channel on a piece of paper at school with something that sounded good but was also apparent that it was a gaming channel. I was thinking of how retro arcades we used to have when I was a kid were kind of passé and the name stemmed from that. I initially really wanted to do overwatch and halo content for the channel, and even a divergent psychology and health channel, but when I stumbled upon Cyberpunk, I instantly fell in love with what I thought was the perfect combination of an open world and cyberpunk themes. It replicated the same feeling I got watching Ghost In The Shell, but I was much more excited because I knew there would be so much more to it since it was in a video game format that you can come back to again and again and have a different experience. I became really passionate about not only making the best, most in-depth and straight-to-the-point Cyberpunk content I could, but also working on best SEO practices to get my hard work out there. It seems to have worked great so far, and it really challenges my enthusiasm for being a “story-teller” as well as a marketer. My best choice was doubling down on Cyberpunk though. Not only am I obsessed with the world, the lore, the characters and anything I can get a grip on, but I can share that with a smart, vibrant community who loves to talk about the dark future. It’s really been an amazing year and a half-ish on YouTube.

3. Where do you get your ideas / inspiration for your videos?

The Cyberpunk lore and world is so rich that it does make it easy, but I definitely write down all the ideas for videos I have. I spend most of my day day-dreaming about edits and my scripts, and what kind of video I would want to watch that isn’t really available for Cyberpunk. Many times I’ll read a lore snippet from Cyberpunk 2020 and get inspired, or I’ll notice something in a demo which will make me want to frame by frame a section and get really deep. Other times it’s making a concise more journalistic straight to the point informative video. It really depends on me. Research is also a big one. Since I do so much on Cyberpunk 2077 specifically, I feel like I can weave all the smaller details into the bigger ones to paint a more comprehensive picture. It goes back to storytelling and getting everything across to your audience. I take a lot of joy in that, as I do augmenting my edits to match what I’m saying to keep people interested. No one wants to watch a boring edit that drones on and on. If my videos are longer, I try to pack them with substance.

4. What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?

First would be Ghost In The Shell for the introduction to the genre, 2nd would be Cyberpunk 2020 because of the sheer amount of painstaking detail in the thousands of pages of lore, and 3rd would likely be The Matrix because I watched that when I was probably 6 which predates my Ghost In The Shell viewing, even if it doesn’t scream pure Cyberpunk genre to me as much. Neo was my favorite character ever when I first saw that movie when it released, and voila Keanu is Silverhand in 2077. Again Cyberpunk hits all the right notes for me even in the casting.

NeonArcadeDeepDive

 

5.What are your thoughts on the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay that we’ve seen so far?

The gameplay has really wowed me so far. The 48-minute demo was incredible. the density, the open world, the colors, the sounds, the immersion, the gangs, the factions. It was all on point and just how I was picturing it in the mind’s eye after reading the initial impressions from E3 2018. I won’t lie that the Deep Dive didn’t quite illicit that same reaction from me, but I was still blown away in other areas, mainly in the skills and playstyles available. The netrunning sequences to cyberspace and the quick hacks really pushed me more into respecting the netrunners skill set, although I still think I will predominantly pick solo-centric physical skill when I get my hands on the game. All in all I haven’t been this excited for a game since Halo 3 in 2007. Playing The Witcher 3 years ago and following CDPR years after has really opened my eyes to how special and dialed in this studio is. There’s gotta be something in the vodka over there. Polish “polish” should be a new buzzword in gaming like German engineering was in automobiles when it came to German craftsmanship.

Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay shot

 

6. Can you describe the world and its factions a little bit, for people who are unfamiliar?

Of course! The World of Cyberpunk is an extrapolation of our world, if things go wrong; it’s also a social commentary on our current reality. High Tech, low life is the motto for many Cyberpunk works, and in many ways Cyberpunk 2077 is a distillation of this. Overtly powerful megacorporations, roaming and disillusioned gangs, the elimination of the middle class, cybernetics becoming as common place as a wristwatch, are all mixed with the despair, turmoil and angst that comes with this dark future. Ethics, morals, the sanctity of the human body and mind have fallen at the wayside to corruption and the need to make a buck to survive.  Gangs of all sorts are prominent on the streets, as well as feuding corporations via more covert means. Addiction comes in the form of braindance, the net and augmenting the body with too much chrome. Edgerunners or mercenaries take a variety of jobs from fixers, to make a quick eddie, at varying degrees of risk. The world is unstable economically, socially, politically and even environmentally due to years of abuse of power and of the earth. It’s just hellish for those at the bottom and glitz and glamour for those at the top. There is little to no upward mobility for the poor, and the people in power will make sure of this. It’s called the Dark Future for a reason.

 

Neon Arcade Podcast thumbnail

7. How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?

I was approached to join the community Podcast by Syb and MadQueen. They had been working together for a while and occasionally with LastKnownMeal and I had maybe 10k subscribers at the time I was approached. It’s funny because when I had around 10 subs I reached out to LKM and MQ to connect since I had been watching a lot of their videos and to suggest a collaboration in the future. I suppose I was confident that I would grow to the point where that was justified. I doubt they remember the DMs though, but it was funny when they reached out to me first after that. I guess they had found me and started watching and enjoying my videos. I’m an introvert by nature so the thought of having to talk for hours was a challenge, but I promised myself when it came to creating content and really doing what I loved I wouldn’t say no to any opportunities no matter how uncomfortable they made me feel. It was difficult at first, because not only had I never really talked to the crew outside the podcast other than MadQueen, but we are also from all over the world. Sometimes the language barrier between Euro and North American vocab is a sticking point, but I think we’ve done well so far. I’m having a lot of fun talking to these guys every week. They’re not only amazing creators in their own rights, but they are genuine down to earth and passionate people as well. As a bonus we get to talk to developers from CDPR from time to time on there too, so it’s really good for the community as well, and to meet the workhorses behind the games to get some insight. I still get burnt out at the end of a long podcast, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my YouTube “career”

8. Final question: What does Cyberpunk mean to you?

Cyberpunk has given me a creative outlet to talk about a universe that offers me not only escapism but can also ground me with how it’s a snapshot of our potential future. It allows me to do creative work and allows me to appreciate the beautiful and well-crafted stories in the 2020 and 2077 universe in particular, but also sit with myself and ask all the hypothetical real world applicable questions that come with reading a work of fiction that has tangible research and foresight behind it. It coalesces my passion for technology, self-actualization, psychology and vibrant escapist worlds. I really hope to see more Cyberpunk works that pave a unique route for itself, and rely less on some of the old school tropes.  That’s probably a pretty hippy answer, but I’m sticking with it haha.

 

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire

Exciting New Cyberpunk 2077 Updates

Cyberpunk 2077 is not for everyone, but if you are as excited for it as me, then this week was a very exciting week for updates for the highly anticipated game coming out in November. With a couple different ways to stream it online, I settled on watching it on The MadQueen’s channel, whom I interviewed a couple weeks ago.

madqueen stream night city wire

She streamed the event live via Twitch, and I was able to watch her reactions to all the news, along with adding comments throughout the 25 minutes. After the Wire was finished, the stream continued for another 2 hours dissecting the new content, and the stream eventually became another community podcast with the three other usual YouTubers: Lastknownmeal, The Neon Arcade, and the Triple S League. Interviews with all three of these high-profile YouTubers will be up soon.

Night City Wire countdown

We waited with impatience and counted down to the 6pm Central European Summer Time and were rewarded with a lot of very exciting news for Cyberpunk 2077, which I’m going to break down for you below in the order that it was presented. We also learned that this is the first of possibly three Night City Wires, the second one already coming to us in a few more weeks. So let’s get into it!

1. We got a new trailer: The Gig

The new trailer showcased improved graphics, more of Night City at night, new scenes your friend Jackie, and revealed new locations and characters, as well as car fight scenes, and new augmented body weapons. Oh yeah and we were also treated with a singular scene at the end of the trailer: Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand saying “Fuck.” All of these scenes, apparently are only part of the prologue, and therefore aren’t really spoiling anything from the game.

Pawel cp2077

2. We got more info about the game from Lead Quest Designer Pawel Sasko

Pawel talked about the motivations of some of the characters, specifically about Jackie, Dex, and V. He then talked about an in-game location, Lizzie’s bar, and the gang that reside there, the Moxes. It was really interesting to see this new location and hear about the people and their backstories, it was clear they had put an incredible amount of thought into it. Next he talked about the Badlands, the open area outside of Night City, and the Nomads who live and rule there. Players can choose between three origin lifepaths: Street Kid, Corporate, and Nomad. Each life path starts you off at a different location in Night City, but all three eventually coalesce into the same main story, as The Neon Arcade explains in this video. As I discovered using my own informal twitter poll, most future players will choose the Street Kid path first, with the second choice being Corporate and Nomad coming in third. This was interesting for me to discover as I personally will be choosing Nomad, so knowing that it was the least popular choice made it interesting for me to learn new information about the nomads and badlands. Also, considering everything The Neon Arcade explains in his video, I also objectively think that the Nomad path leads to the most fun beginning part of the game, although the Corporate path seems the flashiest.

Following that he talked about a highly-augmented cyborg from the trailer, Adam Smasher, who also features in the Cyberpunk 2020 Tabletop game. Apparently The Mad Queen is very familiar with him, considering her super excited fist pumps upon seeing Pawel talk about the character on the wire (to see what I’m talking about, look at her reaction at 1:20:00). Finally, Pawel told us a bit about Ripper Docs and Victor Vector.

xbox one cyberpunk 2077

3. Backwards Compatibility Announced for Xbox Series X and Playstation 5

If you buy Cyberpunk 2077 for the Xbox One or for the Playstation 4, you will still be able to play it on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X when both consoles finally launch. That being said, the new limited collector’s edition of Cyberpunk 2077 for the Xbox One looks really great, so you may want to consider getting that too.

Cyberpunk edgerunners

4. Cyberpunk Edgerunners announced for Netflix

Cyberpunk 2077 is already getting the Netflix treatment! They announced on their Night City Wire that CD Projekt Red had partnered with a Japanese anime studio called Trigger in order to create a standalone series set in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe called Cyberpunk Edgerunners. The series is set to be released in 2022. This was one of the most exciting pieces of news for me, as I’ve previously mused about the cultural implications if Cyberpunk 2077 was made into a Netflix series to introduce more people to the game and the genre in general, much like Netflix did with CD Projekt Red’s previous hit, The Witcher 3. Also the fact that they hired a local Japanese anime company is just awesome.

Braindance

5. Braindance feature explained

Braindance is a recording of someone else’s experience, allowing the recording and playback of all five senses–not just sight and sound, but smell, touch, feeling, and even emotion. It basically looks like a detective mode similar to the one in the Batman games by Rocksteady. You can move time forward and backwards during an event, look at little details, and discover new things about characters and their backstories in Night City. This will surely be an interesting and useful feature for players who like taking their time with games and learning as much as possible about every single detail about the world, which for me personally is always more than necessary. It also looks like a cool feature, but wasn’t too interesting for me personally.

Pawel sharing notebook

6. Developer thoughts about Braindance and the game in general

Patrick Mills, Senior Quest Designer, joins Pawel Sasko in giving his thoughts about Braindance and the game in general. After Patrick explains the origins of Braindance in the lore of Cyberpunk 2077, Pawel adds that you can use Braindance to learn more about the characters as a storytelling tool. The host then asks Patrick and Pawel what they are most excited about in the game. Here are their responses:

“One of the things that I’m most excited about in this game is the characters and the way they interact with the world. We have got this really interesting world that stretches all the way back to the Cyberpunk 2020 source material and all of these events and all of those things, but those don’t mean anything unless they connect with characters”–Patrick Mills

“For me, I would not be myself if I would not say that I’m the most excited about our quests. With our Witcher 3 team, we really have grown so much, we have learned so much, and we have used all that experience to put them into the quests that we have made, and you will not find really a filler in this game, like everything has meaning, like we put so much effort in making sure that everything is all rewarding, is interesting, is talking about characters as Patrick said, is talking about worlds, is talking about emotions, like touching the player in a really, like a real, way, and I just can’t wait to find out what you think.” –Pawel Sasko

Pawel also then shared his quest idea notebook, which was interesting to look at.

Night City Wire Episode 1

To see all of the Night City Wire Episode 1, you can check it out below. For me, this definitely makes me more interested in playing the game, and it was really interesting to see the updated graphics and the new characters we can expect from Night City. I also really enjoyed seeing more about the Nomads in the Badlands.

Thoughts on Night City Wire?

But what about you? Did Night City Wire return some of the hype for playing Cyberpunk 2077? Was there anything you were disappointed about? Let me know in the comments below.

Cyberpunk 2077 Delayed…Again

CP2077 delayed Nov 19

Why the delay of cyberpunk 2077 is not surprising

Being in the Cyberpunk community, it was a big deal when I found out three days ago that Cyberpunk 2077 was being delayed yet again to November 19th.

I think my initial reaction was something like this:

Darth Vader Noooo GIF | Gfycat

For more on my reaction to the news, you can check out my YouTube video here.

Remember Keanu announcing the release date?

I remember the excitement I felt after seeing the new Cyberpunk 2077 video game trailer and then watch Keanu Reeves step on that stage on June 9th last year and announce the release date at Microsoft’s E3 Video game conference event for April 16th, 2020.

Wake up Samurai! CP 2077 Keanu Johnny Silverhand

It was on that stage that a fan said what everyone was thinking, “you’re breathtaking”, and his instantly famous reply “no, you’re breathtaking! You’re all breathtaking!” Needless to say, it was a breathtaking moment.

you're breathtaking

Remember when they announced on Jan 16th that it was delayed the first time?

I also remember the disappointment I felt when it was delayed the first time to September 17th. During the pandemic it would have been nice to have a game like Cyberpunk 2077 to play during the long hours of confinement, but it wasn’t meant to be. I reasoned, along with many others in the community, that the extra wait time was worth it if it meant a better game as the final product.

Bottom line: make a good game

The most important thing is that the game is good. Think about all the bugs that can detract from a massive immersive video game, like Skyrim where you get stuck everywhere or quests don’t spawn the way they are supposed to, or The Witcher where things appear where they’re not supposed to (like your horse roach).

Glitchy Roach Card Is Too Good Not To Leave In The Witcher 3's ...

It’s inevitable that bugs will happen in a game this big, but I think it’s important that if they’re finding those kinds of bugs already, that they’re dealt with as much as possible before the game is released. And this actually isn’t that uncommon. Turns out games get delayed all the time.

This happened with the Witcher 3 as well, actually

The Witcher 3 was supposed to come out fall 2014, but in March 2014 (6-7 months before anticipated release) they pushed it back 4-5 months to February 2015. Then, in December 2014 (2 months before), they pushed it back yet again to May  2015 (3 months back). In comparison, CDPR announced in June 2019 that the release date would be april 2020. Then in January 2020 (4 months before anticipated release) they pushed it back 5 months to september. Then, in June (3 months before anticipated release) they pushed it back 2 more months to November. The result? The Witcher 3 was a smash hit, won a bunch of awards, got countless accolades and a huge fan base, and then on top of all that they adapted it into an amazing Netflix live action series.

the witcher wallpaper

“Hmm.”–Geralt

A blessing in disguise?

And in the meanwhile, perhaps in a weird sense this is a gift to keep the hype going, the wonder, the curiosity. Imagine 3 months after the game is released, when all that mystery and wonder will be gone. There are communities of fans speculating every day, dissecting every new news piece, waiting eagerly for the day they’ll be able to get their hands on the video game.

night city wire

We’re going to have new information in 4 days time on Thursday during the Night City Wire event. So let’s treasure and get excited about not knowing, about wondering about it. And let’s see what new exciting information we can learn on Thursday, because it will have to tide us over for the next 5 months. At least.

Your Thoughts

So what do you think? Are you disappointed as well about the game being delayed? Do you think it’s justified? And are you excited about Night City Wire? let me know in the comments below.

Interview With Cyberpunk Creator MadQueen

Madqueen

Getting to know Cyberpunk Creator The Mad Queen

According to her Twitter and Instagram bio, Mad Queen is a gifted napper, speculative fiction lover, professional hype builder, and an expert in Cyberpunk 2077 lore. She also creates some incredible content about the Cyberpunk genre, specifically the upcoming CD Projekt Red video game Cyberpunk 2077, on her YouTube channel where she has over 24k subscribers. She also has a Patreon page where fans can help support her work. But who exactly is this Mad Queen, and what can she share about the Cyberpunk genre? Read on, console cowboy.

1. How did you get introduced to Cyberpunk?

Science Fiction has always been very present in my family, my mother loved science fiction so I had lots of Arthur C. Clark and Asimov books at home to read when I was a kid, even though I was too young to understand what science fiction is really about. My father, on the other hand, had a huge collection of books called “Great Mysteries of Humanity” or something like that, they were the style of the History channel, authors like JJ Benitez and the likes, it’s funny because when I was a kid I thought mixing science fiction with real life was an artistic style, like some sort of mockumentary, it took me a lot of years to discover there were people that actually believed this may be possible: Aztec temples, pyramids, the Moáis… You know, if white people couldn’t build structures like this back then, probably it was aliens and not Aztecs or Egyptians.

In the specifics of cyberpunk I discovered one day when I was a kid my father’s collection of a magazine called 1984, that later was renamed to Zone 84. This magazine released each months episodes of comic books mostly based in Science Fiction and Cyberpunk, and my favorite was Judge Dredd. I obviously had to read it in secret since my parents wouldn’t allow me to read comics with so much sex and violence on them. A little later, the local TV of where I grew up reached an agreement with a Japanese anime distributor, and they started to fill their air time with lots of Anime. Differently to almost anywhere else in the West, were television focused on anime for kids, our TV was filled with great adult anime classics, so I got to discover the great Cyberpunk classics Ghost in the Shell and Akira. I soon started to like Cyberpunk way more than any other branch of science fiction because in the Golden Age and New Wave (not counting Ursula K. Le Guin, who had a strong anthropological background) the future societies described weren’t in general much different to the one we live in, and no other branch was as impactful as Cyberpunk for me.

Basically my whole childhood prepared me for when later, in school, a friend of mine would come with the Cyberpunk 2020 basic sourcebook and say “This game looks good, want to give it a try?”.

2. What made you decide to start The Madqueen Show? When did it start? And how did it become what it is today?

When I started my channel I was totally obsessed with building in fallout 4. At that time I had an “artistic” job but, to be honest, the creativity that I could develop there was almost non-existant so I kind of compensated this lack by building in Fallout 4. I shared my buildings on Reddit and soon people started to ask how to recreate structures that I put in my buildings so I started a YouTube channel to be able to explain it better for the people at Reddit. The first week, when I was just starting, I did a video with variants of a structure that a very popular Fallout 4 YouTuber did, and he liked my variations so much that he talked about me in his videos and I got a thousand followers in my first week. Back then I wasn’t taking the channel seriously, it was just a hobby to relax after work, nor was I able to put more time on it as I crunched a lot.

Some time after that I had a very stupid accident and it took me a year to be able to walk again. On the one hand I had a lot of time to reflect on my life choices and I left my job. On the other, I had an insane time as I was at home and I wasn’t able to walk, so I started to do more YouTube videos. At one point, I discovered the existence of the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, based on a Pen and Paper game I loved, and I went crazy. I started to talk about it all the time because I wanted people to understand why was it going to be so awesome, and I became the first YouTube channel focused on Cyberpunk 2077 exclusively (well, almost exclusively), and I was moderately successful on it. I wasn’t taking it very seriously back then, I had the idea of moving to London and get an Art Direction position similar to the one I left behind, but I was always hesitant as I doubted I would get a chance to develop any kind of creativity in “commercial art”. Although positions like this are usually very well paid, money doesn’t make you happy. At least, it doesn’t make me happy. So I went on with the YouTube channel learning new skills to be able in the future to do more creative things based on the Cyberpunk universe, and I opened my Patreon page, I was overwhelmed by the support and, with this, I could go full time. Unfortunately, my personal situation started to get worse and worse and, at one point, for personal reasons I thought about going back to my original plan of getting an Art Direction position and thought about closing my channel for good, I took a 4 months break to decide what was I going to do. After this break, someone I respect a lot gave me the kick in the butt I needed to really focus on what I was doing and really take it to another level or die trying. I would say this is exactly the point where my channel became what it is today, a mix between totally changing my personal situation and a needed kick in the butt.

madqueen2

3. I’ve noticed that your YouTube videos have a really high production quality. How did you become so good at making them?

If you really want to make something, you will find your way. Nothing substitutes the force of will: not money, not skills, not even talent. If you really want to do something, you’ll find the way to do it.

That’s how people become good in whatever they are doing. And I just couldn’t (and can’t) stop doing what I can’t help doing. So I just learned how to do it, and I still am, I have a lot to learn.

4. Where do you get your ideas /inspiration for your videos?

I’m a brainstorming machine: I have a notepad filled with ideas for videos, the half of which most probably I won’t be able to develop because I have only two hands, and I’m constantly creating new. People who visit my channel tend to tell me that I’m very open-minded, and this is the key: how you see life is how you generate ideas, because, in the end, everything is possible and if you don’t have an open mind and listen to people on different backgrounds to yours you limit yourself and create a tunnel vision that doesn’t allow you to generate original ideas because your own personal universe is very limited. It’s not about thinking out of the box, is realizing there is no box in the first place, you just created this box to find a space that is mentally comfortable, but if you always stay where it’s comfortable you will never do anything interesting.

I also have a huge audiovisual and artistic baggage, which is very important as well.

Madqueen3

5. What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?

Mind Players by Pat Cadigan would be the first. Is not as complex as other Cyberpunk works regarding structure, thematically is very complex but Cadigan has a mastery for words that not even William Gibson can match, so is much more comfortable to read than other classics like Neuromancer, for this reason I always recommend this book to people that want to introduce themselves to the Cyberpunk genre for the first time. Is has the warmth and humanity that other Cyberpunk works don’t have, although some people consider it to be post-Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk worlds are cold, threatening, and unforgiving, but they’re ultimately filled with people and although coldness may emerge when people are fighting for their lives, people still have a heart. And, no, the story is not romantic, I don’t mean that kind of heart.

The film adaptation of Ghost in The Shell by Mamory Oshii is a masterpiece, that ultimately show people will still be people no matter what technology they have available. Way more serious than the comic books, which I honestly appreciate. The mix of opposites of, on the one hand, talking about what it means to be human in a world where humanity and technology are merged and, on the other, the political means of those who are in control of such technology is splendid. Too bad the live action remake failed to understand most of it and only explored the visuals which is funny, as it wasn’t Ghost in the Shell, was only the Shell.

A Scanner Darkly is a masterpiece, both the Philip K. Dick book and the Richard Linklater film adaptation (starring Keanu Reeves, by the way). It’s technically not Cyberpunk, mostly proto-cyberpunk, written in this stage of Philip K. Dick’s life where he was taking a lot of drugs and it took a toll on his surroundings, so the technology that is impacting on the setting of this story is a synthetic drug created from a plant, that, as cybernetic technology, makes the protagonist wonder about his humanity. Also the right amount of politics centered on manufacturing a threat to use it as excuse to control the population, because this is Cyberpunk and the Cyberpunk genre is and has always been strongly political. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be called “punk”.

Cyberpunk 2077 questions:

6.  I’ve noticed you have a lot of videos about Cyberpunk 2077 lore. Can you explain where the Cyberpunk 2077 universe comes from, and what has happened in the history of the universe (like the end of the Net between 2020 and 2077).

Cyberpunk 2077 is inspired by, and follows the timeline of, the pen and paper game Cyberpunk by Mike Pondsmith, published by his company R. Talsorian Games, and it’s a parallel universe to ours that started to diverge in the late 80s. It’s hard to explain the whole timeline of events from 1989 to 2077 in some lines, as a lot happened, but let’s say that the climate change (and the lack of policies by the governments of the world to combat it), the world stock market crash provoked by an organization headed by the CIA that took control of the government of the Sates and the corruption of civil servants that needed the money of megacorporations to survive, provoked a slow economic and environmental apocalypse, so slow people didn’t even noticed until it was already here and changed the world order. This new world order included a society so heavily focused on extreme capitalism that megacorporations acquired the absolute power and the people of the street level do whatever they can to survive, as they mean nothing to anyone. But some people try to escape the control of the megacorps and think by themselves, called the Edgerunners or Cyberpunks, although they’re powerless and they know it. They believe in social upheaval to fight the economic powers, but while they daydream with anarchy they do what they can to survive.

7.  You are one of the few Youtubers providing videos in Spanish. Do you also have videos/subtitles in Spanish and Catalan? And why is it important for you that videos be available in languages that aren’t only English?

My videos are available in English, Spanish, German, and some in Polish. I started adding Spanish subtitles as people around me in real life, who don’t speak English well enough to follow the videos as their main languages are Spanish and Catalan, wanted to see what I did. German subtitles came because a German follower wanted the videos to be available for people around them, same with Polish subtitles, although not all Cyberpunk videos are available in Polish. The rest are added by the community. In the end, only the Spanish subtitles were my idea, the rest are my community’s idea, and I think it’s great, this way people can learn about the Cyberpunk lore without language being a barrier. Thanks to one of the moderators, called Ben, every single video I publish has Spanish subtitles.

Madqueen community podcast

8.  How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?

Syb (from the Triple S league) and I worked together for years (and did zillions of Cyberpunk podcast in the past together for years) and we always wanted to collaborate with more creators and to create a place for the community around Cyberpunk 2077. After I returned from my 4 months break, more creators started to focus exclusively or heavily on this game, the Neon Arcade created his channel and Last Known Meal started to put a focus on it, so it was a great way to invite them to make something together. It’s funny and I love it, back in the day it felt very lonely because there wasn’t such a big interest on Cyberpunk 2077 and it was very difficult to find people to do things with, but now the attention on the game is massive and I have more people to play with.

Madqueen4

Final question:

9. What does Cyberpunk mean to you?

I think Science Fiction and, more specifically, Cyberpunk, are responsible for the worldview I have nowadays and my lifelong evolution as a person, so I have a lot to thank to Mike Pondsmith. And this is the shortest I can explain it without entering in a hundred pages dissertation.

 

Cyberpunk Actor Profile: Keanu Reeves

Neo Rooftop

Keanu Reeves: A Cyberpunk Icon

Keanu Reeves has been in countless Cyberpunk films: the Matrix Trilogy, Johnny Mnemonic, and A Scanner Darkly just to name a few. But beyond just a face on the silver screen, Keanu Reeves has known not just fame and fortune, but great heartbreak and hardship in his life as well. So here at Cyberpunk Matrix I thought I’d take a walk with you through the gallery of all the Cyberpunk films Reeves has been in, and have a look at Hollywood’s new favorite leading man and internet sensation. So join me and learn something new about the humble powerhouse that is Keanu Reeves.

Keanu childhood

A Difficult Childhood

Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon on September 2nd, 1964 to a British mother and Hawaiian American father of mixed heritage. They married in Beirut when his mother, Patricia, was only 19 and his father Samuel was 21. They had one more child, Kim, and then Samuel abandoned the family struggling from substance abuse when Keanu was only three years old. After his divorce with Keanu’s mother in 1966, he went to prison for ten years for selling Heroin at Hilo International Airport. Keanu then moved to Sydney with his mother for a year before moving again to New York City, where Patricia married the Broadway and Hollywood director Paul Aaron in 1970. The marriage lasted a year before divorce in 1971 and the two moved yet again to Toronto. It would be here, in Yorkville, that Keanu would spend the majority of his childhood. In 1976 Patricia would marry her third husband, a rock music promoter named Robert Miller. The marriage would last until 1980. Her fourth and final husband was a hairdresser named Jack Bond, and their marriage lasted until 1994. Because of the busy and tumultuous life of his mother, Keanu and his sisters were mainly raised by nannies and his grandparents. He attended 4 different High Schools, one of which he was expelled from for being “a little too rambunctious” before he dropped out of High School altogether at the age of 17. This was partly because at 15 he decided he would become an actor, and had begun working as a production assistant for his stepfather.

Heartbreaking Losses

Keanu has experienced many heartbreaking losses in his life, which admirably haven’t broken Keanu’s kind, humble spirit.

River and Keanu

Death of Best Friend River Phoenix

After working with River Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix’s older brother, in the 1990 movie I Love You To Death Keanu became very close best friends with River. He would then star with him the following year in My Own Private Idaho. Unfortunately, River died suddenly on October 31st, 1993 from a drug overdose at the age of 23, which heavily affected Keanu.

Ava Reeves

Death of Baby Ava (Stillborn)

In 1998 Keanu met the love of his life, Jennifer Syme, at a party. The following year they learned that she was pregnant with a baby girl. The couple were apparently over the moon, until Jennifer realized the baby hadn’t moved in a while. An ultrasound on Christmas eve revealed that the baby had died after 8 months, and would be a stillborn. The news devastated Keanu and Jennifer, causing them to split up shortly thereafter.

Jennifer Syme

Death of Ex Jennifer Syme

After a couple years had passed, Keanu and Jennifer had remained good friends and things were looking like they might be able to rekindle their relationships. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be. On April 1st, 2001, after attending a party at Marilyn Manson’s home, a friend drove a drunk Syme home. However, Syme wanted to return to the party despite her state, and got behind the wheel of her car in the early morning of April 2nd. She would then drive into some parked cars in LA, and because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected through the windshield and died instantly. She was later buried next to Ava.

Kim Reeves

Sister Kim Develops Leukemia

In the early 2000s Kim was diagnosed with Leukemia, which was very hard on Keanu to hear. In a show of support, Keanu took good care of her, and even donated millions towards cancer research and various charity organizations, hoping to help save her life. This time, however, there would be a happy ending. After 10 years battling the deadly disease, she finally emerged victorious, thanks to her determination, self-belief, and her brother.

Acting Career

Youngblood (1986 film) - Wikipedia

Keanu officially started his acting career in 1984, but his first major motion picture appearance was in the 1986 film Youngblood alongside Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Cynthia Gibb. He then appeared in the academy award-winning film Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and two Bill & Ted time-traveling comedies (Excellent adventure, 1989, and Bogus Journey, 1991). During the 1990s he also starred in the cop action thriller Point Break (1991), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), and the action Hollywood blockbuster Speed (1994). Finally, in 1995 he would star in the titular role of the first of what would be many different Cyberpunk films: Johnny Mnemonic.

Cyberpunk Films

Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Johnny Mnemonic was a 1995 Canadian-American film and one of the earliest films to visually represent cyberspace and the internet. It’s based on the short story of the same name by William Gibson (Neuromancer), who also assisted as screenwriter. In the film, Keanu plays Johnny, a courrier who stores sensitive data in his cybernetic brain, a bit like an organic USB stick. The film is set in a dystopian future where megacorporations dominate the landscape and there are strong Asian influences as well, such as the Yakuza. The movie would eventually bomb (maybe because of the code-breaking Navy dolphin? No, I’m not kidding…) but it did garner a bit of a cult following afterwards. However, this would pave the way for Reeves to finally take up the mantle for his perhaps most recognizable and historic roles, Neo in the Matrix Franchise.

Keanu Neo

The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)

The Matrix trilogy needs no introduction, and is my favorite trilogy of all time (for more on WHY I love the Matrix so much, check out my Legacy of the Matrix post here.) Reeves plays a computer programmer called Thomas Anderson by day, and hacker Neo by night, until he meets Morpheus and learns the truth about the world, that he is living in a simulated virtual reality and the real world is actually a dystopian future with a war raging between humanity and machines. 100% would recommend.

A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

After the Matrix trilogy, the next cyberpunk film Keanu did was called A Scanner Darkly. Yet another adaptation of a PKD novel (there were a lot of those), A Scanner Darkly is a 2006 thriller written and directed by Richard Linklater. Cast included Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder. It told the story of another near-future dystopia controlled by intrusive high-tech police surveillance in the middle of a drug epidemic. 20% of the population are addicted to a hallucinatory drug called Substance D. Keanu plays Bob Arctor, an undercover agent who uses a “scramble suit” to keep his identity hidden while at the police station. It’s a film filled with paranoia and uncertainty, another thrilling story of questioning reality. It’s also shot in a very unusual style: by being shot digitally and then animated using interpolated rotoscope, giving it its animated look.

Man of Tai Chi

Man of Tai Chi: Reeves’ Directorial Debut (2013)

Technically not Cyberpunk, this is a worthwhile mention since it is Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut. Directed and starring Keanu Reeves as Donaka Mark, Reeves cast himself as the movie’s main antagonist for perhaps one of the first times. The main character, Tiger Chen, is actually the protege of Yuen Woo Ping (Crouching Tiger, Matrix choreographer) as well as Keanu’s close teacher and friend. He also had a minor role in Matrix Reloaded–you may recognize him as that guy who was shocked when Neo clubbed him to death at the end of the fight in the chateau.

tiger chen

“Uh-oh.”

John Wick

John Wick Franchise

The following year in 2014, Reeves played the titular assassin in what would become a surprise hit and franchise. While not technically Cyberpunk, it does have an underground world of assassins and simply tons of badass action sequences including fistfights, handgun fights, fights with assault rifles and shotguns, and fights with everyday objects! The films were directed by Chad Stahelski, who worked as a stunt double for Reeves in the Matrix franchise. He is also reported to be helping out with stunts again in the upcoming Matrix 4 sequel.

Replicas_09-07-16_0088.CR2

Replicas (2018)

The final Cyberpunk film with Keanu Reeves in this list is the indie and little-known film called Replicas. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Keanu plays a neuroscientist who brings his family back to life via copying their consciousness into androids after they die in a car crash. Unfortunately, it was panned critically.

Johnny Silverhand without glasses

Cyberpunk 2077 (September 2020)

Not a film but rather the first time that Keanu Reeves voices and features in a big-budget video game, Reeves will star as the augmented punk rocket Johnny Silverhand. As perhaps one of the most highly anticipated videogames of 2020, Reeves’ role was announced with a new video game trailer in 2019, before Keanu himself walked on stage at the Microsoft E3 2019 briefing to announce the (now-delayed) release date of Cyberpunk 2077.

Keanu E3 2

In the announcement a fan yelled that he was breathtaking, to which Keanu, ever the humble man, replied “no, YOU’RE breathtaking. You’re ALL breathtaking!”

you're breathtaking

Interesting Hobbies

During his long and highly acclaimed acting career, Keanu has also taken part in a lot of interesting side hobbies, in addition to his philanthropic actions. Some of them may surprise you.

Keanu Dogstar

Band Bassist for Dogstar

Dogstar was a band active from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, and in their band Keanu Reeves played the Bass guitar. The band formed when Keanu ran into Robert Mailhouse in a grocery store, and they just started talking and hit it off. After jamming together a couple times they formed the band, which was later joined by Gregg Miller, the oriignal lead guitarist and singer. He would end up leaving the band because of his demanding schedule in hollywood.

Arch Motorcycle Keanu

Co-founded Arch Motorcycles

Keanu is also an avid motorcyclist–he even featured in a motorcycle ad during the superbowl! He was enough of a Motorcycle fan that he co-founded a designer motorcycle company called Arch Motorcycles.

A long and interesting life

So these are all the things that stuck out for me about the interesting life of Keanu Reeves, and why he is one of the most cyberpunk actors out there. But what do you think? Do you know of anyone else who is as synonymous to Cyberpunk films as Reeves? If so, who? Let me know in the comments below. And let me know if I left anything out!

Your One Stop Shop For Everything CyberPunk