Why do we love Cyberpunk aesthetics so much?

strange headache

Fluctuat nec mergitur
Jan 14, 2018

Hell yeah, this is my cup of tea, let's talk! So many fascinating aspects about cyberpunk appeal to me. If I had to narrow it down, it's probably the philosophical aspects:

What does it mean to be human?

The anthropological questions raised by most cyberpunk settings are probably what are most appealing to me. Cyberpunk tends to blur the lines between technology, humanity and identity. As such it makes you ponder about the boundaries of human nature. By melding man and machine to various degrees, you often find yourself asking "is that still human?" and it's something that I find that really fascinating. In that sense, it raises many questions pertaining to the mind-body problem, the dualism between your cognitive immaterial part and your physiological material part.

Are we good enough?

Most cyberpunk stories assume that mere human beings are largely insufficient and faulty. We are deficient beings, who need technology in order to become better, more efficient. Yes, technology can do that, but not without becoming hopelessly depended on the tools that we are relying on. In a sense, we increase our performance by becoming slaves to technology. Even nowadays, how many people must rely on the internet or their smart phones? It's an interesting dilemma, while technology compensates for our deficiencies we also become less autonomous.

What is reality?

Both, Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell play around with the concept of fake memories. Our memories and experiences are something very intimate, they are what make us individuals, they form our character. By implanting fake memories, you essentially create a whole new identity. Just imagine you would wake up one day and realize that your whole past was merely an illusion, a lie that never actually happened. Yeah, it's pretty horrifying because it would imply that you are not who you think you are and that you never had a real impact on the world. It was all just in your head. There is this one scene in Ghost in the Shell that really exemplifies what I mean:

Are we doomed to be alone?

Cyberpunk is less about the individual but about the way in which we connect to the outside world. I think that's why so much emphasis is put on the identity of space. The single individual is but a tiny particle in an endless sea of interconnected entities. There is really no real way of knowing if the other entities are human, artificial or something in between, hence creating a sense of isolation. In most ways, it's the city space that determines your lifestyle and dictates where you can go, what you can do, who you can be. In a sense, the cyberpunk space is presented as its own identity, like an omnipresent Leviathan it watches over you and directs your every movement.

Are we free and alive?

By depending so much on technology, there is no way of knowing to what degree your actions are the result of your own free will. Is it technology dictating what you do, or the mega-corporations that control the technology? It's the reason why, cyberpunk often fills you with existential dread. While your personal identity is slowly being suffocated by an ever growing network of artificial chaos, you become more and more disconnected from your own body. The lines between fantasy and reality become blurred evoking a sense of hollowness. Are you even alive or nothing but a mere product? For me, that's what the replicants in Blade Runner are all about:

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Feb 7, 2017
For me it's about the simplicity of it. No one ever owns a bunch of shit besides crazy computer setups, a sick ass grav car, and a gun. Also the interweaving of cultural aspects is fascinating. It just seems so dark and action packed like, who wouldn't want to live in that type of world.
Jan 14, 2018
Hell yeah, Cyberpunk!

My first experience with cyberpunk was something related to shadowrun, I don't know the details but the tagline stuck with me:
"High tech and low life"
... the idea that the future can be both better and worse at the same time, that we get increasingly connected yet can feel more alone, the government loses its grip and corporations take over a lot of things that we traditionally think governments should do.

Talking about cyberpunk games, has anyone here played the Observer?


Probable Replicant
Oct 10, 2012
The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

- William Gibson

^ no lies detected.

I think the main appeal of cyberpunk as a genre is that it is at its core a recognisable future, one that we can readily see ourselves in versus a lot of the more far-flung sci-fi that came before it, but it remains tantalisingly elusive, just beyond the purview of us mere mortals.

If you like cyberpunk imagery, you might like these sites: -


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May 1, 2014
I think there's a certain type of coziness to it. Maybe related to the feeling of anonymity of living in a mega-metropolis, it can be freeing in a way, to know that you're insignificant. No one judges or cares what you do,

In a true Cyberpunk Dystopian future, that would be a $50K/month luxury high rise apartment. Us normies will be living in the techno slums:

May 3, 2011
It's a logical place to dream up. The Euros had "a new world" in the Americas. Early American settlers had "cascadia". We have discovered it all. There is no new land to dream of settling and you can see it all online within minutes or be there yourself within hours with mass transit. The only room left for us to dream is the machine and the landscapes that it can build. It's the new frontier


Probable Replicant
Oct 10, 2012
while we are on the subject of cyberpunk, is there a good youtube video that goes in-depth with original blade runner?
There are plenty of excellent short-form videos (just search Blade Runner Analysis), but I'm hard-pressed to think of any overly long ones, however, there is a decentish Blade Runner podcast called Shoulder of Orion here: -


They Started back in August 2017 in the lead up to the release of 2049
Aug 26, 2004
I think there's a certain type of coziness to it. Maybe related to the feeling of anonymity of living in a mega-metropolis, it can be freeing in a way, to know that you're insignificant. No one judges or cares what you do.
Yeah for sure and it's partially because so often it's portrayed at night.

Daytime can sort of sometimes evoke the stresses or business of daily modern life. There's a sort of freeing coziness of the night where as long as the sun hasn't risen yet, you're still free. Even when I work at night, or it's super busy at night, there's a coziness that I enjoy that's distinct from the day.

Being at night just further helps disconnect it from real life.

Even something like Deus Ex HR vs Deus Ex MD kinda highlighted this... It's why MD felt so dystopian rather than cyberpunk.

It's not a requirement of course: Ghost in the Shell excelled in the daylight, but that was also because it had some soft or slow camera angles that often framed wide shots and otherwise had no sense of urgency with its camera, taking time to relax and appreciate the art and music in some of its best shots. Whether it's because it's at night (Deus Ex) or how it uses the camera (Ghost in the Shell) there's a definite soothingness to it.
Likes: Dark Star
Feb 6, 2017
Cyberpunk aesthetics and themes are appealing to our generation mostly because of the period we live in, or, according to some theorists, because of our previous period (postmodernism or post-postmodernism?)

Long story short, it has much to do with our current period, our technological advancement, social change etc
Jan 14, 2018
Anyone with any opinions on Ruiner as a game? Visually it looks cool but I'm not sure if it isn't a bit too Twitch for my tastes?
Didn't hear of that before, would be interested in testimony about its qualities as well (and seems no one here played Observer either?).
Apr 4, 2014
Cyberpunk takes me back to childhood in the 90s, consuming vhs. Dark visual style in movies with synth scores. Grungy, Smokey, Weathered, Neon lit Settings, striking cinematography dominated many genres. Not just sci fi. Adult themes played a strong role.

Cyber punk is the best form of Noir. Full of cynicism, fatalism, moral ambiguity. Nihilism, Dark melodrama, striking low light visual style with neon highlights. Cruel, erotic, violent, lonely, gothic. Usually cyberpunk involves a society collapse

Themes covered are social problems, crime problems. Problems with private corporation or government tyranny. Environmental destruction. Problems with threat of omnipotence of technology.

Futuristic sci fi concepts are fun - who doesnt love imagining dark distant future? Puts me into a dreamlike state thinking of flying cars, half humans, robots, mega cities. Giant monolithic structures contrasted by ruins, dark dingy cyber ghettos on the bottom. Economically its a dystopian post capitalism and a dark vision for things to come.
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Jun 13, 2013
Your cyberpunk primer:

No Neuromancer? There ought to be a law...

In addition to what's already been listed, there are a handful of games which I feel capture the sub-genre really well. Shadowrun: Dragonfall is one of my personal favourites, and I throw Anachronox into the ring as well, though it's closer to science-fantasy after the first half.

I love the "moment in time" nature of cyber-punk, and how it plays into the aesthetics. Everything is usually well thought out, feels real and self-contained and built with purpose, that this is just the way the world is, it comes across in the visuals. The characters accept the world, and so do we. The contrast of dark and neon light, human and manufactured, metal and rain, is the bedrock for some really inspired imagery usually presented on a grand scale. Its thought provoking by sheer volume, and in a single frame or image, I feel it gives us a canvass to ask big yet personal questions about a hard, real world, in a way that fantasy simply doesn't capture or allow. Standing on a balcony, taking in a neon-soaked metropolis, does more for me than the most grandiose fantasy imagery. It's just more... tangible, despite being almost equally as impossible.
Feb 9, 2018
My love for the aesthetics of cyberpunk is based on the pleasant color schemes and beautifully simplistic designs. I do not like the latest movies / series because they overdo it.
Jan 9, 2018
Whether it's because it's at night (Deus Ex) or how it uses the camera (Ghost in the Shell) there's a definite soothingness to it.
Enter The Void nails the aesthetic and it's not even cyberpunk. The camera gliding through Tokyo's neon landscape is hypnotizing.

Altered Carbon's incredibly wide lense and minimum focus gave it a cool visual identity. The frame has room to breathe in a way that's not often seen.
Jan 7, 2018
There are definitely going to be tradeoffs should we ever come to that. Like corporations would have much power than before. Or governments using more surveillance to spy on its citizens. Or law enforcement having much better technology such as robots, exoskeletons, hi-tech weapons,etc. Which is good for security but could make people feel uneasy. So while you going to get the aesthetics of cyberpunk, you're going to to get the negative parts of it. Be careful what you might wish for.
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Dec 13, 2016
Because it looks cool! I never even heard the term "cyberpunk" until I played Saints Row 3, I always just called it "futuristic"...