Mutual respect and tolerance are the foundation of creativity and innovation – interview with Adam Kiciński and Adam Badowski
Katarzyna Kucharczyk: – The LGBT rights issue has become a hot topic. On top of that, the Company had postponed Night City Wire in light of the social unrest in the USA. Why does CD PROJEKT choose to speak out, when most Polish companies – particularly ones as prominent as CD PROJEKT – would prefer to remain quiet?
In a small company, business activities often reflect the owners’ personal beliefs. As the company grows larger, such beliefs morph into a foundation upon which the team spirit and work ethos are based. The founders of CD PROJEKT, Marcin Iwiński and my brother Michał, respected the differences between their personalities and focused on what brought them together: a passion for video games. 26 years on we are incalculably larger and all the more cognizant of the importance of mutual respect, tolerance and — to put it simply — fair play. We pride ourselves on our diversity, but we also realize that efficient operation requires active measures promoting mutual respect and tolerance.
– How did these events play out with your gamers/investors?
AK: The feedback reflects the broader social discourse: some are for, some are against. I personally happen to believe that, in addition to listening to others, you should also remain true to yourself.
– Is the issue of tolerance an important part of the creative process when developing video games and – to put it broadly – innovating? AB: I would reply by quoting from the CD PROJEKT Group strategy: We stand for tolerance. We combat all forms of racism, homophobia and xenophobia, as we believe tolerance is the foundation of creativity and innovation. Of course, our perception of tolerance is not fully captured by these two short sentences. Some support the view expressed by Professor Maria Ossowska, a prominent Polish sociologist, who claims that tolerance is the capacity to respect other people’s needs and opinions which we ourselves do not espouse, and to refrain from combating phenomena which we regard as evil. Others are more in line with Popper’s proposition that a tolerant society, if it is to remain tolerant, must not tolerate intolerance.
In this way our team’s energy can be fully directed towards creation. – Corporate involvement in LGBT issues may have caused a storm in Poland, but was relatively calmly received in the West. Why? Is it because the Polish society is more conservative?
AK: That’s not the way I see it. When it comes to the Polish society — it is not for me to judge. I’m glad to have been born in Poland; I’ve had the opportunity to witness the fundamental transformation of the country — when communism fell, I was already an adult and aware of what was going on. The increasing polarization concerns me, but it is not a distinctly Polish phenomenon.
– How are issues of tolerance treated in your key videogames? How do they affect “The Witcher” series (which clearly has strong antiracist and antihomophobic undertones) and how will they influence “Cyberpunk”?
Much like his books, the video games acknowledge the antagonism between humans and “non-humans”, i.e. elves, dwarves etc. Our games depict the consequences of stigmatizing otherness, reveal the link between social inequality and xenophobic sentiment, and show what humans are capable of when they believe they can act with impunity. For example, Mike Pondsmith’s manual, published in the 1980s and providing the source of inspiration for our game, is quite liberal when it comes to gender modification. I truly hope that, much like in the case of The Witcher games, Cyberpunk 2077 will surprise everyone with how many bold, mature and astute narratives can be conveyed by the video game medium. I will gladly come back to this issue after the November release once I’m at liberty to share more information.
– CD PROJEKT is a global company. What are your reflections on matters related to tolerance in the digital entertainment sector abroad? Do other studios follow the same direction as CD PROJEKT? Do their games also provide social perspective? If so, can you name some examples?
AK: The entertainment industry in general strongly promotes diversity. It hasn’t always been that way, and there are some bad examples from the past, but the two recent decades brought about a powerful thaw. We learn a lot from the shortcomings and accomplishments of our colleagues from the motion picture, literature and music industries, and I suppose we may be faster at implementing certain novel mechanisms. Way back in the 20th century the superb writer Andre Norton (born Alice Mary Norton) chose to publish under a male pseudonym because her publisher believed that the masculinized readership demographic would not take interest in fantasy authored by a woman. Sexual orientation is in a similar position. What had long been taboo in mainstream motion pictures is now turning what it should have been from the outset: stories of human romance rather than accounts of the struggle for the right to be accepted.
Aug 16, 2020 at 03:16