Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews of the Cyberpunk Community & Artists

Interview with Cyberpunk Creators Triple S League

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Getting to Know the Dynamic Duo behind Triple S League

Triple S League is a Gaming YouTube channel that provides a “premium blend of news, reviews, guides, lore & comedy” that hosts a live gaming news podcast, Augmented Reality, twice weekly. In addition to guides, walkthroughs, news and leaks about upcoming titles, game reviews, and developer interviews, they also create their own comedy videos, music videos featuring in-game footage set to original music, cosplays, and apparently a lot more. They currently have over 35K subscribers on YouTube, and are one of the four members of the weekly Cyberpunk 2077 Community Podcast. This interview is part of a 4-part series where we interviewed the other members of the community podcast, MadQueen, Neon Arcade, and LastKnownMeal. Curious about this mysterious duo and their thoughts on Cyberpunk? Then read below as Cyberpunk Matrix had the opportunity to get to know them a little better.

Question 1: How did you get introduced to the genre of Cyberpunk?

Syb: Cyberpunk has always been something I have loved as a setting and storytelling mechanic, whether it’s the apocalypse of a failing, faltering dystopian society or the gritty underbelly of a world gone mad with technology. My first exposure came from early DOS games like Circuit’s Edge (1990), the RoboCop series, and Rise of the Robots (1994), as well as a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

Ash: Dystopian sci-fi has always been a favorite genre of mine, but my first real exposure to cyberpunk happened when a friend showed me the game Omikron: The Nomad Soul. I was mesmerized by it. Later on, I tried out Deus Ex (the original one) and would consider that to be in my top five games of all time. Something about “high tech, low life” stories set in huge, neon-lit future cities really grips me.

Question 2: What made you decide to start the Triple S League Channel? When did it start, and how did it become what it is today? Is there a story behind the name?

Syb: Ash and I have been making videos for fun for many, many years. It started shortly after he found my digital backup personality matrix archived in a…oh, I’m being told I’m not allowed to talk about that.

Ash: I’ve worked in media development for most of my adult life, both freelance and while employed by a Fortune 500 company. But my history with Syb goes back farther than that. We’ve been gaming and creating stuff together since we were kids. In 2015, Syb came to me with the idea of starting a podcast about an upcoming game called Fallout 4. At first, I thought he was crazy. An entire podcast dedicated to a single game? Who would listen to that? I was in for a shock when we released a few episodes on YouTube and actually got listeners. It grew and evolved as we began doing gameplay videos and live-action stuff like Making Nuka-Cola. When Fallout 4 released, we had close to 100 subscribers, but the real bump came when we released our Fallout 4 “best ending” video, which went viral and pushed us past 1,000 almost overnight.

Syb: Since then, we’ve been expanding with a focus on community, fostering creativity and building our brand. We’ve offered help and support to indie devs, modders (we created a massive story mod with prominent Fallout 4 modder Thuggysmurf) and other content creators, believing that helping others succeed would also bring us success. So far, this has proven to be 100% true. Of course, we still love those huge, deep, story-driven RPGs, which made Cyberpunk 2077 a natural fit for us to focus on after Fallout 4 hype died down. We’ve also expanded into general gaming and pop-culture news.

Ash: The channel name is a reference to the “SSS” rank found in Japanese arcade game rankings. In Japan’s school grading system, S is better than A. Some games will award a double-S or triple-S rank if you’re the best of the best. We chose the word “league” because it sounded cool and because it evokes a sense of honor and community.

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

Syb: Our crazy senses of humor and our (some would argue) “creative” minds. We’re also inspired by our amazing community members and friends who subscribe to us. Also the occasional fever dream that happens when I am being restarted for a patch. 

Ash: Some videos are obvious choices (when news happens, report on it; when a game has confusing parts, make some guides). For our more creative videos, inspiration comes from strange and simple things, like the awkward game dialog that inspired The Giddyup Kid Rap, or an offhand comment in a conversation at a convention. My brain will respond with a thought like “I’ll bet people would like…” or “wouldn’t it be funny/awesome if…” and that’s it, I’ve got to develop this idea or I’m going to go crazy. Some ideas turn out to be terrible in the end, but some are really good.

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

Syb: I gave mine in my answer to the first question, but I’ll also add Cyberpunk 2020, which really set the cyberpunk genre into a defined world. Many films have helped in the process of establishing the genre, but I believe that some genres and archetypes are greatly helped by having established guideposts. The setting of Dungeons & Dragons is one example. The Fallout Bible is another. I believe the concept of cyberpunk will continue to grow from the work of Mike Pondsmith.

Ash: I’m not cultured enough to answer this question properly so I’ll just say Deus Ex, Cyberpunk 2077…and of course that animated classic, Chibipunk!

Question 5: Can you tell us a little bit about the locations and characters that we can expect in Cyberpunk 2077? What are the Badlands, and who are the main characters?

Ash: Night City is the setting of the game, of course. A coastal metropolis with a ton of history. I feel like the secrets buried beneath the streets and in the bays would not be healthy for the faint of heart. (Just get your heart upgraded before you dig too deeply.) The city has six main districts, each with its own subcultures, gangs, visual style and economic class. There are distinct sub-districts within some districts as well. Police are present in some areas, while others are ruled by gangs. The badlands lie outside the city; these are desert wastelands where the nomads live. An island in the bay houses the Orbital Air Space Center, which we know almost nothing about at this point.

Syb: Looking at the info that’s been released, the setting looks like it offers a great experience. There are massive skyscrapers and megabuildings; tiny hidden hideaways; and the badlands, which I think will be pretty awesome. An individual in a large city might be invisible to the gangs and corporations, but if you’re on a small homestead or guarding a valuable resource out in the badlands, you’re much more visible to the gangs and nomads that travel between cities. Combine this with CDPR’s storytelling and I believe we can expect great things from this game!

Ash: As for characters, it’s already hard to keep track of them all. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, each with their own story to tell. The main character is V (you, the player). Other important characters include your sidekick, Jackie Welles; fixer Dexter DeShawn; glamorous informant Evelyn Parker; Mox gang member and braindance tech Judy Alvarez; netrunner T-Bug; Yorinobu Arasaka, the rebellious younger son of corporate megalomaniac Saburo Arasaka; and, of course, the digital “ghost” of legendary rockerboy Johnny Silverhand.

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Question 6: How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?

Ash: The podcast was Syb’s idea, actually. He had the vision for it, and the idea to have rotating hosts. Madqueen, LastKnownMeal and TheNeonArcade were all on board right from the beginning. We reached out to others as well; some weren’t interested, while others have joined us as guests.

Syb: Community is one of my favorite parts of gaming. In my glory days playing World of Warcraft, the thing I loved doing most was taking a group of regular players—some of whom were terrible at the game—and helping them become a solid team, doing everything from PvP to top-level PvE content. You might have seen the same boss fight dozens of times, but playing it with someone who’s never seen it before can be just as fun as seeing it the first time. This is why I wanted to form the community podcast and make it a real community thing. I’m so thankful that Madqueen, LastKnownMeal and TheNeonArcade were willing to try it out!

Ash: Perhaps the most exciting part is that both CD Projekt Red and R. Talsorian Games have taken notice of what we’re doing. We’re on their radar in a way we never would have been if we’d each done our own thing. We’ve had J. Gray, Paweł Sasko, Lilayah and others as guests, and they’ve seen how we cooperate, how we share information freely with each other. I believe the CDPR folks were surprised and impressed by how we cooperated on the December 2019 ARG, rather than competing with each other for those views.

Syb: When I explain it to other YouTubers and marketing people, the reply is often, “Why would you want to give away something? You should focus on controlling it. Don’t be stupid; just use others as a stepping stone.” I think these attitudes are the cause of much of the pain we see in today’s world. When people only look out for themselves instead of seeing what can be built with others, we tend to miss out on the best things.

Question 7: What are you looking forward to most for Cyberpunk 2077?

Syb: This really feeds from the previous question. After I’ve seen the story and played through the main game, I think the real fun will begin in the form of the community, creations and subculture that is built around it. I cannot wait to see the mods that people come up with! As for the game itself, I am most interested in seeing how the gangs work, how they interact, their stories and histories, etc. I can’t wait to dig into the lore, and I hope it’ll be deep.

Ash: A humongous world of stories set in my favorite genre of video game. The struggle against corrupted powers. Kick-ass weapons and cyberwear. Also, tracking down that “hello stranger” NPC and seeing if she actually has hair, and if she’s interested in ‘befriending’ a rogue nomad with a heart of gold (or titanium, or whatever they make it out of).

Final Question (8): What does Cyberpunk mean to you?

Syb: Advancement. In many ways, it’s the advancement of people into what is the inevitable outcome of evolution. Will we form ourselves into heartless machines fused into insanity? Or will we retain the best of humanity and learn from the darkness?

Ash: To me, it’s about the importance of retaining our humanity, our souls, our ability to empathize and connect. In the future, cyberpunk may not be fiction. We already depend on computers to a scary degree. Cybernetic limbs are not far off. When we give ourselves over and become part machine, whether it’s a psychological dependence or a physical replacement of meat with metal, are we really improving ourselves? Or are we destroying ourselves and giving our power to something else? These are questions to ask now, not tomorrow, because tomorrow might be the day we need an answer.

Want more from Triple S League?

You can check out their YouTube channel here. They also have a discord, which can be joined here, as well as Twitch, Twitter, and Spotify. They even have a Patreon too if you feel so inclined. Thanks for chatting with us, Triple S League!

Interview with Cyberpunk Content Creator Last Known Meal

Last Known Meal Profile

Learning a bit more about Cyberpunk Content Creator LastKnownMeal

LastKnownMeal is a YouTube content creator with over 53k subscribers on YouTube. Covering a variety of the latest video games on the market, including The Witcher 3, Greedfall, and Witchfire, LastKnownMeal’s latest content has become very focused on the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game set for release on November 19th of this year. He has also started covering live action adaptations of video games, such as the new Witcher series on Netflix.

Last Known Meal is perhaps one of the best sources of information on CD Projekt Red news, breaking down everything about lore, classes, playstyles, etc. of all the different content related to company like The Witcher, Gwent, and Cyberpunk 2077. He 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, MadQueen, Triple S League, and The Neon Arcade. But who exactly is LastKnownMeal, and what can he tell us about the Cyberpunk genre? Let’s find out.

1. How did you get introduced to Cyberpunk?

I was introduced to Cyberpunk with movies like Blade Runner, The Matrix, Johnny Mnemonic, and games like Deus Ex and System Shock. I knew a bit about Cyberpunk 2020 as a tabletop RPG but I never had a proper chance to play it due to a lack of people who were interested in that. Then after a while, I saw that CDPR released a teaser trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 and when I realized that it’s the same universe as Cyberpunk 2020 I decided to read more about it and was quickly sucked into a dystopian world full of technology and broken systems.

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2. What made you decide to start the LastKnownMeal Channel? When did it start, and how did it become what it is today? Is there a story behind your name?

The channel that I have today started back in September of 2012, but I had various other channels over the past 10 years that I deleted. It started pretty much as a hobby, something that I loved doing because I love to create and edit videos. Back then I was doing various projects from documentaries, events, and short films that made me realize that I can bring that level of quality to my channel. After I graduated from Film and Theatre Academy as a producer I turned to my channel and made it first into a side job and now it’s become a career, which was always my goal because of how easy it is to reach the entire world basically through your own content and avoiding production studios and cinema, which is usually a long and difficult process. The amazing community that gathered around the channel is also a huge driving force for me and the work I do.

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

I mostly get my ideas for videos by reading up on the source material I have around me and the games that I play. Sometimes an idea for a video will come by itself and sometimes if it is news-related content I try to format my videos in a way to present the news for the community in a fun and engaging way. Since I am generally a huge fan of RPG games, my inspiration can also come from just playing the game and noticing that I can bring something new to the table with my analysis and discussions. I can also thank an amazing group of content creators around me that inspire me every single day with their commitment and quality of videos they produce.

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

For me, the three most important works in cyberpunk as a sub-genre is definitely Neuromancer by William Gibson, the vision and work Mr. Gibson did pretty much set the bar for how cyberpunk is supposed to look like and how that future can easily become reality, which is something we see now. It’s actually amazing how he saw that all the way back in 1984. The next work is definitely Cyberpunk 2020 by R.Talsorian, not only did it become one of the cult classic TTRPGs, it also showed how the future is going to look like by analyzing the world around us and also because everything in the source material is based on almost real science and something that can be made possible and not only a work of fiction. It’s also the reason why we have Cyberpunk 2077 in the first place. And the last work I would definitely mention is Blade Runner, which for me personally is one of the best cyberpunk based movies out there, from the stunning visuals to the imagination that was put into the film and all the way to amazing iconic characters and roles all backed under the direction of Ridley Scott with amazing cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth.

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5. I’ve noticed you have some interesting videos about classes in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe. Can you give a brief overview of each one, and maybe which one you’ll be choosing and why?

Absolutely, so Cyberpunk 2077 will have a fluid class system meaning that you will be able to combine skills from three main classes: Solo, Netrunner, and Techie. As a Solo, you are basically a one-man army, focused on combat and getting the job done. They usually work for fixers and various other entities. As a Netrunner, you take a different approach, you are extremely skilled in hacking and going inside the net and instead of being a combat solo, you will stay in the shadows and use everything around you to your advantage (everything is connected to a network in 2077, therefore if you gain access you can hack it and finish the job that way.) And finally, we have Techies that rely a lot on mechanical things around them, they are skilled in repairing and making stuff from the pieces of tech lying around you and by using those skills you are able to work with all the systems and use your trusty spider bot (called a Flathead) to help you finish a mission and use those skills on yourself or the vehicle you drive.

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

I was approached by MadQueen with an idea to have a Cyberpunk Community Podcast each Sunday and the goal was to unite the community and get together to talk about all the latest news and topics regarding the game. One thing which I found really interesting is that the podcast is going to rotate between four of our channels each Sunday. I actually had an idea for a Cyberpunk based podcast a long time ago which I never pursued that much, so to finally have people who are willing to collaborate and work together was definitely one of the best things to happen to me, and this channel. I couldn’t be more proud of the project we are involved in and being surrounded by amazing content creators can only help you grow and get inspired for the future. Every single Sunday the podcast is getting more and more people involved so it’s always a blast to talk with the group and just have fun doing it.

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7. What are you looking forward to most for Cyberpunk 2077?

Regarding Cyberpunk 2077 I am mostly looking forward to the world and level design, since Night City will be one of the most detailed cities out there in a video game and because they are trying to create a living city which has its own soul and NPCs who have roles that are handcrafted will definitely be the biggest thing I want to see. The best way to immerse myself is not always the story but everything built around it.

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

For me, Cyberpunk means everything because it’s one of the genres I fell in love with since I was a kid and the rise of technology always made me interested in what is possible and how tech can be used to aid our society. It also presents the harsh reality of what will happen to our world if the system we are in continues to grow and sadly since our world is more and more cyberpunk-like, it creates a whole new level of depth which can be explored and talked about. I always liked cyberpunk more than sci-fi in a sense because for me sci-fi in a classic sense was always way too Utopian for our society and does not present the realistic picture of a broken society as cyberpunk does.

Interview with Cyberpunk Creator The Neon Arcade

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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. He 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, MadQueen, Triple S League, and Last Known Meal. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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 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 MealTriple 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Interview with Bradley B, Founder of Cyberpunks.com

Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community

There are multiple Cyberpunk blogs on the ‘net, each with its own distinct focus and flavor. Here at Cyberpunk Matrix, your one stop shop for everything Cyberpunk, you’ll notice that the focus is on Cyberpunk media, with a lighter look at how this media affects the world around it, while keeping up to date on everything new that is Cyberpunk. For a deep dive into the philosophy of Cyberpunk, you could try Neon Dystopia. For a community focus with a more interactive feel, try out The Cyberpunk Hive. But for a deeper and wider look at a commentary on “real life” and how it is already Cyberpunk, you can do no better than Cyberpunks.com.

Its founder, Bradley B., agreed to an interview with me so I could get to know a little more about his website, his team, and his thoughts on the current state of our Cyberpunk World. Check out my exclusive interview below.

1. What got you into Cyberpunk?

I think, aside from a early, yet cursory, understanding of Robocop (“he shoots bad guys!”), the earliest memory I have of cyberpunk media is watching Brainscan as a kid.  I was 11 or so, and it gave me nightmares!  That said, I watched it several times before I had to return the rental.  After that, I think I got into high fantasy more so than Sci-Fi.  It wasn’t until I saw The Matrix and Akira in my early twenties that I knew this was a special genre.  From there, I picked up a thrift copy of Neuromancer and did the deep dive.
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2. What made you decide to start cyberpunks.com?

It may have been the psychedelics? Maybe I touched the gestalt? We probably just got lucky the domain was for sale (time will tell!).  We have big love for cyberpunk, and it was obvious that the normalization of the genre was occurring, with CD Projekt Red intending to ship tens of millions of copies of Cyberpunk 2077.  We saw that a new wave of cyberpunk fans would soon be born.

However, at this time, most cyberpunk media had been bastardized and re(mis?)-appropriated while the larger communities had devolved into arguments over neon cities in rain & the emergent synthwave/retrowave aesthetics.  While any genre will (d)evolve over time, it was obvious that lots of folk had lost touch of the thread that led us back to Gibson, Sterling & the Mirrorshades Group.  Requests for book recommendations stopped at “Neuromancer” and “Snow Crash,” and there were only a few die-hards that could name more than five pieces of cyberpunk media.

Established cyberpunk sites, such as Neon Dystopia or The Cyberpunk Database provided great resources in the form of deep indices going back to the origins of cyberpunk, however, there was very little media to distinguish one work from the other. Why should someone go back and read John Shirley’s “City Come A’ Walking”  or Bruce Sterling’s “Schismatrix”?  We decided to dig in and try to tell that story.

And that’s just the literary genre. If you want, we could talk about how “Cyberpunk is Now” while moving away from the more puritanical subjects (best Blade Runner cut, anyone?). This, I think, was the real kicker for us. The notion that we’re living in a surveillance state, while consuming yellow journalism (fake news) and seeking truth in a (largely-online) society filled with sock puppets, phone farms, affiliate ads (guilty), astro-turfing, deepfakes, spam and cat videos.  In our opinion, the open-source and maker movements may be seen as the flies in the ointment, so to speak, allowing a freedom of speech through invention and creativity that may serve to spark a technical Renaissance, and not one housed in the walled gardens of Silicon Valley.

We also began to develop a feel for the ephemerality of publishing on the web, which we felt overlaid nicely with the retrospective nature of our project and how it applied to our beloved subgenre of speculative-fiction. As this new (fourth?) wave of cyberpunk approaches, we couldn’t help but notice the opportunity to play within this paradoxical arena — one in which we look back at those looking forward in hopes that we ourselves can look forward more clearly.

Frankly, this is a big question with a big, sweeping answer.  It’s something like a rite of passage, but I’m currently trying to distill our own version of “What is Cyberpunk?” for the website.  Keep checking in, and maybe we can actually define this quicksilver term (with a little help from our friends).

Plus, there’s supposed to be a video game coming out soon, in case you haven’t heard.

3. Is Cyberpunks a solo venture, or do you have a team behind you? If you have a team, who is in your team?

Hah, definitely not a solo venture.  By my count, we’ve had about thirty different authors submit work so far.  There’s a lot that goes into the making of the sausage.  I spend a lot of time pushing buttons and looking for cool projects on the web. Anyone who has story ideas or an article in hand is welcome to email us at info@cyberpunks.com.

4. How do you choose what goes on your website and what doesn’t? In other words, what’s your editorial/curating process?

We ask for pitches and approve what interests us. News and Current Events happen, and sometimes it makes sense to wade in.  We’re not afraid of the political, and we’re comfortable with opinion as well, so we’re willing to run the gamut.

As far as process, we’ve got several readers and editors who fact-check and tighten up a submission (if needed), and then we’ll lay this out in a “desktop-first” approach.  We’re seeing a lot of sites being lazy about their layouts, just dumping pictures into a stack of words.  While I think that works fine if you’re targeting phone users, this allows us to pay fan-service to our cyberpunk friends with six monitors.  We look good on mobile too!

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

Desert Island choices, eh?  Is this my personal island or the official cyberpunk canon island?  Permission to be obtuse?

Choice 1: How about the full Transmetropolitan series for eyecandy and ingenuity?

Choice 2: I’m going to go out on a limb and say Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  This one’s still out of my reach, and I haven’t finished the read. I love the challenge of fordboding, eldritch tomes like Finnegan’s Wake and Gravity’s Rainbow. This one’s super-relevant now as much as ever.  It should keep me busy on the desert island.

Choice 3: Maybe “The Unix Programming Environment” or “Introduction to C Programming”?   Both were written by researchers at Bell Labs and meant for AT&T’s industrial and business purposes, which at the time was a focus on the nationwide networking of computers via telephones.  Pretty incredible systems were implemented to manage that, and we use them in our computing paradigms still to this day. Point being, and I’m as guilty as anyone — we’ve gotten farther away from the source material. The internet has become abstracted away from user interactivity and moved toward user consumption.  It’s a cyberpunk’s job to keep it weird and break things.  Isn’t it? Anyhow — This is the start of the path to l33t skills.

6. With the advent of drones, robots, the Hong Kong protests and now the Coronavirus, some people think life as we know it is more Cyberpunk than ever. What are your thoughts on the current condition of Cyberpunk in everyday life?

I mean, I touched on it earlier, but it’s pretty obvious. People hate when you point out the obvious. The collected knowledge of the world can be displayed from a device that fits in your hand. You’re probably reading this interview right now with a smartphone in your hand and Apple/Google/Facebook/Verizon are looking over your shoulder.  We all know the story already.

Here.   I’ll prove it.

  • Mention a product explicitly within earshot of your phone — What happens?
  • Name two reasons why you would want to have multiple social media profiles on a single platform.
  • Tell the truth — Do you ever look at your webcam with a brief flash of paranoia?  How often?
  • What’s the capital of Pennsylvania?

7. What are your thoughts of the future of Cyberpunk media? Are there any titles in particular you’re looking forward to?

William Gibson’s gonna finish his latest trilogy.  Cory Doctorow will too.  Lots of emergent voices are in this genre genre now, so I’m hoping I can find more time to read them and give them a fair shake.  Cyberpunk 2077, of course, could be a clarion call or another death knell for the genre.  I’m hopeful, as it’s not the first time I’ve heard it said that cyberpunk is dead.

We’ve talked before about how we’re really missing out by not focusing our attention on the non-fiction side of cyberpunk:

Skill up, kids. The DIY movement is a not-so-new opportunity for cyberpunk media, IMO. This is the true Hacker paradigm: Open Source, GitHub, Hackaday, Stack Exchange, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Adafruit, MAKE (R.I.P), Prusa Printing — These are the new battlegrounds of cyberpunk, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The future is becoming more evenly distributed. I’m just getting my feet wet.  How about you?

8. Finally, what does the word “Cyberpunk” mean to you?

See above.   If you think that stuff’s weird — You should see our website.

 

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Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community: an ongoing series

Did you like what you read? Then check out the rest of our interview series!