Today, in our bold, new, beautiful future: The developers of Cyberpunk 2077 have humbly requested that their players stop doing the sex act on a virtual Keanu Reeves. Specifically, CD Projekt Red—who you’d think would be busier than this, given all the time they’ve had to devote of late to fending off lawsuits and hypothetically fixing the 2020 game—has removed a mod that allowed players to have sex with Johnny Silverhand, a character voiced by, and modeled on, the John Wick star.
Given that a) Cyberpunk is already an extremely sexually explicit game, awash in neon dildoes, cybernetic sex workers, and hornt-up billboards, and, b), sex mods are usually the first thing that get added by fans into any game—you should see what these people ended up doing to Skyrim—the existence of the Keanu fuckin’ mod (which swapped the Johnny Silverhand model, clothes and all, in for one of the game’s available sex workers) was pretty much inevitable. What’s interesting, though, is CDPR’s argument against it, which digs into the discomfort inherent in having created a pretty good virtual model of popular movie star Keanu Reeves, and then shipped it out, with modding tools, to millions of people:
Our most important rule regarding user-generated content, game mods in particular, is that it can’t be harmful towards others. In the case of model swaps, especially those that involve explicit situations, it can be perceived as such by the people who lent us their appearance for the purpose of creating characters in Cyberpunk 2077. Therefore, when making fan content, creators have to make sure they’ve got permission from all the concerned parties (which might be people other than CD PROJEKT RED). For the characters we’ve invented for the game, we broadly permit you to tweak the game at will and just have fun. When it comes to models of real people whom we’ve asked to participate in the game, we kindly ask you to refrain from using them in any situation that might be found offensive if you don’t have their explicit permission.
In other words: When it comes to original character created for the game, have at it, digital perverts. But when it comes to actual likenesses of actual human beings, CDPR is likely to keep shutting stuff down. (Of course, this only applies to what’s allowed on the company’s official mod database, although, by releasing official mod tools to the public, the company is clearly hoping to keep some control over what propagates online.) And it’s really not hard to see their point; we can’t imagine Keanu (or anybody else whose likeness has been added to a game) would be absolutely thrilled to have his virtual body used thusly. Certainly, it’s the sort of problem that’s only going to get thornier and more prevalent as character models become more realistic, and questions about what qualifies as a violation, consent, or offensive content continues to evolve.
For now, though: Please leave Keanu alone, Cyberpervs.