Abigail N. Maldonado
Prof. Jason Ellis
Deus Ex Human Revolution and Deus Ex Human Divided
The sub-genre that I love and enjoy most in the rich and vast world of Science Fiction Is Cyberpunk. The first thing I love most is the clear and defined rules that establish if I work is or not a Cyberpunk. The idea of to be the near future I feel gives solid extrapolations of the base technology that we have, it is easier for the reader to imagine that advance technology. Nonetheless, this genre allows the read to detect the mistake of the author and be interactive with the reader’s imagination, the reader’s mind can be a challenge and unleashed the probable alternative future that they can imagine. A good example is the main topic of this research project that is around the modern series of the videogames produced by Square Enix and Eidos Montreal called Deus Ex Human Revolution and Deus Ex Mankind Divided, wherein least than a decade the human race will have hyper-accelerated progress on genetics, computer interfaces, armaments, robotics, and cybernetics. In this series of videogames, you can easily accept as possible the advancement in armaments and robotics. At the time, the advancement in cybernetics, computer interfaces, and genetics are close enough to impossible in that short of the time of a decade that the game develops its story.
An excellent description of the games and some key elements that conform to the structure of the storyline and narrative is this one. I extracted this citation from the blue and gray press’ articles. “Augmentations serve as the catalyst for the game’s excitement and the strategies players can employ. Do you want tank-armor skin or the ability to go invisible? Do you want to be really good at hacking computers or really good at slaughtering lesser men with your bare robot hands? It’s entirely up to you and the choices you make will vastly affect how you make your way through the game”. In this single quote can you infer accurately what is going to offer this cyberpunk world to you as a user. The key elements in this quote are the advanced technology and body enhancement technology that exist in this world, technology like tank armor skin, invisibility, and your own robot hands along with the word augmentations reflect two factors that are primordial in the formula that builds a Cyberpunk genre story. A secondary quote from the same article says, “Fans of the 1999 film “The Matrix” or William Gibson’s classic novel “Neuromancer” are sure to find something to like in Adam Jensen’s quest.” This quote links this videogame to a great representation of the cinema and one great representant of the literature. Matrix and Neuromancer have something in common which is that both belong to the cyberpunk genre.
At this point when this game already started to relate to the cyberpunk genre. It is necessary to clarify what is a cyberpunk term and see if this connection is concise. The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms in his 4th edition refers to the term cyberpunk in this way “A phase of American science fiction in the 1980s and 1990s most often associated with William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer (1984) and its sequels, and with the work of Bruce Sterling, who edited Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986). By contrast with earlier mainstream science fiction, which commonly implied utopian confidence in technological progress, cyberpunk fiction is influenced by the gloomier world of Hard-boiled detective fiction and by film noir thrillers; it foresees a near future in which sinister multinational corporations dominate the ‘cyberspace’ (that is, the world computerized information network) upon which an impoverished metropolitan populace depends.” In this definition, we can find the 5 main characteristics that define a cyberpunk story. The number one, the story must be happening in a near-future probably a couple of decades less than a century as maximum extended in time from the date of the author is writing the story. The number two, the interfaces that the protagonist or protagonists interact with, this can be computers, neuronal connections, ocular enhance dispositive, auditory enhanced dispositive, and any other sensorial enhanced dispositive or machine who allow the users to interact with his environment beyond the organic senses can allow. The number 3, the networks usually this is associate with what we called “internet.” But, in cyberpunk this term can be a little broader can include neuronal nets, shared simulations, or even wireless communication brain to brain with dispositive that can turn our brain in transmitter and receiver of some encoded electric signal that can be interpreted by the users. We can call this as a kind of “Tech Psychic powers.” The number 4, the surfaces are the details over the story is build how is the environment, the buildings, roads, the social construction of the society, the powerful and his way to let their influence over the world, and usually are Dystopias. The number 5, punk sensibility this point center around the concept that associate the punk culture around marginality, youthfulness, hooliganism, criminality, etc.
At this point in the research, I found the connection between the videogames series with the cyberpunk genre, this connection is held in advanced technology and body enhancement in the human body. These 2 items can be related to the near future, the interfaces, and networks. The research is still lacking about the other 2 factors to be a complete cyberpunk work, this article of the worldwide known magazine Vice stated this in one of the articles were to develop a topic around the second game of the franchise Deus Ex Mankind Divided “Since Britain voted to leave the EU, racist incidents have increased by 57 percent. Our unelected Prime Minister put vans on the streets telling immigrants to “go home or face arrest”. Across the pond, a plump multi-billionaire wants to put up big walls to keep certain people out. Look around you. Feel it in your bones. This hovering, gormless rock is a more divided, seething, and hateful place to live than ever before. See it in the hopeless eyes of your fellow commuters. Everything is fucked. Totally, irreparably, undeniably, fucked.
If you’re familiar with this feeling, then you’ll tread cautiously when exploring Square Enix’s direct sequel to the 2011 Human Revolution. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a game that wears a political heart so brazenly on its sci-fi sleeves, is so rife with allegory; you’ll have that sinking feeling of familiarity around every apocalyptic corner and in the hopelessness on the faces of every one of its world-weary denizens. “Basic human rights don’t exist here,” an exhausted “clank”, or augmented, informs me down in the dank depths of Golem City, one of Mankind Divided’s most striking new locations. There is little hope for the oppressed in this brave new world”. On this elongated quote, we can appreciate the vast world where the story is happening. The background of the society. How the human through this advance of technology where cybernetics, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, computer science, energetic resources, and others drastically changed the world. However, this huge amount of changes this story can be traced to our very nowadays and make credible comparisons. This is bulletproof evidence that the extrapolation of the authors did in these videogames is extremely accurate. Despite, those changes the human nature keeps fighting around similar injustices, troubles, and even nonsense in many cases.
In the case of the racism explosion that is claimed that appeared after the Brexit can be compared with the battle that happened inside of videogame where the “natural” people are against those who “augmented” people that implant technology to have advantages beyond that nature allows to human beings have. This brings new apartheid in humans. In this restless and fractured society, there are some few members that they know this fight is artificial and provoked by a few minds that control the big transnational companies that seek to control the great mass of people around the world.
This quote revealed the surfaces of the story likewise the punk sensibility in the marginalization that “natural: due to his bigger numbers cause marginalization and criminality against those augmented themselves with these new technologies. All this reached biblical proportions due to an event during the story, where the main mind behind this extraordinary technology that unlocked the possibility for our race to go beyond his limitation. After he observed the effect of his technology, he regrets that he created it. Likewise, once Oppenheimer regrets to help in the creation of the atomic bomb after this invention was launched over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He stated this phrase extracted from the Mahabharata “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. Hugo Darrow creator of the augmentation technology suffered a similar regret than Oppenheimer, he thought that he committed a terrible sin. The difference in relation to Oppenheimer is that Hugo Darrow has the possibility to attempt to destroy his own invention.
Hugo Darrow uses a special signal that is received for a biochip that is installed and programmed in every augmented part commercialized around the world. This special signal hacked the parts and start emitted electrical signals to the brain and caused the augmented people across the globe are driven to psychotic acts of violence. This is what is called the Aug incident. The result after the huge massacre is most of the human population that is still natural at 100% raises a huge hatred against those that have any augmentation on them. This divided humanity into two parts, those who see the augmented people have a constant danger, and those augmented that feel that was utilized as tools and turn into criminals against their will.
Cyberpunk the term coined for the first time for the author Bruce Bethke, and its 5 main characteristics are present in this videogame saga and it’s well-acknowledged as one representative of this genre of science fiction. The story happened between 2027 and 2029. There are clear interfaces between humans and his augmentations, these augmentations unlocked new ways to network with other peoples, machines, and environments, all these elements in the environment of metropolis full of new infrastructure only possible because and of those new human subtype the augmented people. Finally, the highly polarized society that caused two groups that hate each other, marginalize, diminished, criminalize, and possibly destroy where is possibly the members of the opposite group.
One of the strongest points of the work is when the videogame shows you in an organic and credible way how the people use these new technologies, not only for the purpose for it was created, you can see the creativity of the common people to use that technology and adapt it for new purposes. In the second game Humankind Divided there are two stages that remark one element that is common in the cyberpunk works. There two scenarios Dubai and Prague where you can see the two extremes of the technology. One of them with the ultimate technologies available and look hyper-advanced in contrast to the other where the advances in a simple way are scarce. It is clear the future has arrived; it is just not evenly. When you see Dubai, it looks like a city that is 60 or even 70 years in the future. Meanwhile, Prague is almost like a city in our current days. In this place, only a few and punctual elements will remember us that we in the year 2029, a few years after the beginning of the nanotechnology revolution.
In the need to expand the main argument over this cyberpunk story is elaborated, I look an interpretation of how this genre had seen the possible argument among those who will decide to stay natural and those who will seek to augment themselves to break the natural limits. I found this fabulous essay called “meat puppets or robopaths? Cyberpunk and the question of embodiment” by Thomas Foster. In this essay Thomas Foster state “Antibodies implicitly critiques the oscillation in cyberpunk texts between a biological-determinist view of the body and a turn to technological and cybernetic means in order to escape such determination, an oscillation that is generally gender-coded in the paradigm texts of cyberpunk, especially William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer (1984).3 This oscillation is figured on the one hand by the ‘meat puppet,’ to use the term applied to persons who are confined to their organic bodies in Neuromancer, and on the other hand by the figure of the ‘robopath,’ people who believe they are robots trapped in human bodies, to use a term from Antibodies”. In the works of David J. Skal (1952) and William Gibson (1948) called antibodies and Neuromancer, respectively. These 2 works have a similar conflict where the humans must choose if they want to keep their human evolution unaltered or we are going through the path of deciding with technology artifacts where goes our evolution. Despite this, the antibodies book has this conflict. This essay will center around Neuromancer. Nonetheless, this important work reinforces as secondary for conflict that is present in both works. Also, it is based on the Neuromancer book that comes from the brilliant mind of William Gibson. Gibson refers to the “naturals” as the “meat puppets” and for the “augmented” he refers as the “robopath.” The meat puppet and the robopath have this disjunctive question where they choose to be as individuals.
There is a transcendental difference between William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Deus Ex Series. While Deus Ex series has a conflict where the Naturals (meat puppets) are superior in number and recede the group augmented (robopaths). The augmented are those who are pursuit, humiliated, and throw out society. On the contrary, Neuromancer established a world where the meat puppets are those who are devaluated in comparison robopaths. Robopaths are those who have the upper hand in society. and those who keep their organic body intact are those destined for the worst positions in society.
Finally, the cyberpunk genre has a clear set of rules and its own unique style. These game series fill every one of those characteristics. The game fixes perfectly in the genre. It is in the near future, interfaces, networks, and surfaces are highly remarkable. There is a faction whose punk sensibility is easily confirmed. In this world who achieve to have all those characteristics is heavily modified for the presence of high technology beyond our current level of technology and there is nanotechnology that uncapped the possibility of the cybernetic replace some organs and limbs of the humans to surpass the limits that nature imposes over humans.