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 happens to be part of the 4-member Cyberpunk 2077 weekly community podcast. This interview is part of a 4-part series where we interviewed the other members of the community podcast, Last Known Meal, Triple S League, and The Neon Arcade. She has a Patreon page where fans can help support her work, too. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.