We have talked about games that may give us tips for Venus colonization, games that help us to see through from the eyes of artists, and games that inspire us and make us look from a different perspective but right now, we will talk about a game that created a new design style, well more like a different perspective to cyberpunk and that becomes an inspiration to architecture, fashion, and even prosthetics. These games are called Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and the perspective they created is Cyber Renaissance.
What is Cyber Renaissance, and what is the connection to Renaissance? To understand this, we first must understand what Transhumanism means. When we first hear Transhumanism, our mind goes to cyberpunk and futurism. Well, it’s normal because Transhumanism is a philosophical and intellectual movement that defends the current technologies emerging with human life.
Transhumanism is about evolving human life. Increase its potential with technology, and overcome human life limitations with science and technology. Simply we are talking about biological life mixing with machines. This philosophy is not something that just came out; it’s been long discussed topic, and right now, since we are so close to it, we are more familiar with it.
“Transhumanism is a class of philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values.“
–Max More (1990)
Since we have a brief idea of transhumanism, what’s its connection to Renaissance and Cyber Renaissance? The Art Director of Deus Ex, Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, believes that Renaissance is the stepping stone of Transhumanism. To upgrade something, first, you have to understand it fundamentally. That’s what we did in Renaissance. We understood how human anatomy works. Renaissance created a space for Transhumanism to become itself.
So, in the game, we are in a cyberpunk world. People with upgraded augmentations and those against augmentations call themselves “Anti-Augs.” The game itself questions what humanity would mean if we were hybrid people. Are people with augmentations superior to ordinary people? Well, that’s for another Article. So that’s where Cyber Renaissance comes from. Cyber as futurism, evolution, and Renaissance as a metaphor for 2nd step of Transhumanism since, in this game, humans evolved with technology and became hybrid. A next era. This idea affected every aspect of the game.
Renaissance, Futurism, and mixing the myth of Icarus made the game’s core. Why Icarus? Well, we will explain that when we discuss the architecture of the Cyber Renaissance. From the design of augmentations to fashion in this world. Every element was inspired by Renaissance and interpreted with futurism. Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête mentions that the design of this world, from fashion to architecture, should be contemporary, renaissance, futuristic, and cyberpunk. Well, we will talk about Deus Ex in a different article and in more detail. Let’s get back on the topic, shall we?
Well, we talked about Cyber Renaissance. In this game, augmentation is very important, so what could their design be? What would they look like? Renaissance was full of anatomy and the human muscle system. So, the design is a simple human muscle system with more function.
Many fans loved these prosthetics designs; some even called the game studio and asked where they could get these prosthetics. Those calls triggered something in Eidos-Montreal, developers of Deus Ex. They wanted to make a solution to a very real problem.
Using their augmentation design, Eidos-Montreal partnered with gaming company Razer and Open Bionics, a UK start-up developing low-cost, 3-D printable prosthetic arms. Nevertheless, the project will also use Razer’s StarGazer webcam and Intel RealSense technology to bring the augmentations to life with unparalleled speed and precision. This might sound crazy, but prosthetic technology evolved one more step thanks to games. In 2017 Open Bionics and Deus Ex became Guinness World Record holders for the first prosthetic limb based on a video game, sounds amazing, right?
We are not finished yet; the best part is that these prosthetics designs are totally free. Anyone can 3D print their bionic arms using the designs, not just for adults but for kids as well. There are even some people using these prosthetics right now. Dan Melville is the first user of this prosthetic arm, and Tilly Lockey is one of the kids who use the Deus Ex prosthetic design; she expresses her feelings that because the design looks so cool, it makes her feel confident.
“Looks awesome, and it makes you feel confident. Instead of people thinking they feel sorry for you because you don’t have a hand, they’re like: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a cool hand!’”
Our protagonist Adam Jensen’s jacket, became famous when the first game was published. Even Square Enix, the game’s publisher, started to sell the “Adam Jensen Jacket” in their store quickly. What makes these clothes special? When we check the concept art of the fashion designs, we might also see some resemblance to the renaissance here. The motifs, collar, and any other detail. Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête explains that when they started to determine the fashion of this world, that was one of the hardest things to determine.
Remember, these people are game designers, not fashion designers, urban designers, or architects. So they have to do their homework. In the first game, Jonathan and his team use Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh’s designs as inspiration and reference for their fashion style in this world.
When the second game, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, started to make. They have decided to work with actual fashion designers for this game. A company called Acronym from Berlin; they have an approach that functionality is the essence of them. You can take your coat and turn it into a backpack or turn it into another function that you can use. They believe that function and beauty always win out over time, if you can combine the two into a single unit, then you can’t lose.
While determining the new design for this new game. The developer team is fed with every piece of information they have about this world, what is a cyber renaissance, and what their aim is for the Acronym. Well, the outcome, at least for me was something new. Currently, Acronym is known for its Techwear fashion and is a leading pioneer.
You might ask why we didn’t mention anything about this world’s architecture, urbanism, or society. First, we wanted to ensure what this game tried to accomplish, what is “Cyber Renaissance” and how it was born. Plus, we wanted to show how one game can affect the technology of prosthetics, change many people’s lives and make prosthetics more accessible for everyone.
You can watch all the previous workshops (2020-2021) at the PAACADEMY with 25% discount
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