“Bet you didn’t expect to see me here,” she says.
After the blockbuster video game’s main character, V, has sex with her, the reward lays on the bed. It’s the same dildo from before, only now transformed into a melee weapon. The dildo “may not be lethal,” according to its profile in the weapons inventory, but “it’s perfect for when someone is just asking to get fucked.”
“Sir John Phallustiff,” as the weaponized sex toy described above is called within the game, isn’t just a one-off flourish. Plenty like it can be found in this intricately designed dystopia. Stroll through the dressing room of Lizzy’s bar and you’re greeted with a spiked bronze dildo and a butt plug upright on a shelf. Peer underneath a car and you’ll see a dildo staring back at you. Dildos are everywhere in Cyberpunk 2077, as many players have discovered. But why?A representative for the company behind the game, CD Projekt Red, claimed last week that the abundance was a bug. “We wanted Night City to be pretty open sexually,” the rep told Business Insider, but too many sex toys were showing up as random items strewn throughout the gaming world. “We're going to adjust them so that the dildos don't appear too out of place/context and distracting.” Meanwhile, a designer at the company who told me that he wished to remain anonymous an account of the “tumultuous PR” around the game said they’d put in all the dildos for two reasons: to be controversial, and also “to represent the cyberpunk future as sex-positive.”
Whatever the designers’ intent, the ubiquitous dildos in Cyberpunk 2077 send a very specific message, and it’s not sex-positive. In the game, dildos are either classed as weapons on their own terms, or as “junk” to be dismantled and reused to make more important things, like … weapons. Dildos are not depicted here as tools for sexual pleasure, but rather as the litter of a decaying world, and a makeshift means of doing violence. If anybody in this future actually does masturbate with dildos, apparently they toss them on the ground right after. Maybe that’s because in Night City, sex-toy technology has somehow failed to improve at all by 2077. While V’s body can be enhanced with newest tech (titanium bones, bioplastic blood vessels, etc.), the game’s artificial dicks are stuck in the early 2000s: standard penis replicas, nary a clitoral suction device in sight.
Game designers know that disembodied dicks are funny. That’s why the South Park video games are teeming with them; and it’s why 2016’s Genital Jousting was such an indie hit. But when it comes to science fiction, there’s likely more to it than that. In a futuristic context, dildos often serve as stand-ins for our disconnected selves, signs that we have lost our humanity. Sometimes the devices even enact violence on their users, punishing humans for replacing skin-on-skin sex with technology. The sex machine in Barbarella (1968) gives Jane Fonda’s character the best orgasm of her life, then nearly kills her. “You’ve exhausted its power. It couldn’t keep up with you … Shame on you!” its inventor yells. The orgasmatron in Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973) is a symbol of a soulless society, a world where men are impotent and women frigid. Westworld’s (2020) sex robots reside in a pleasure-filled theme park for the rich, until they rise up and destroy their human creators.