In the past few years, there have been few games that have had more build up and hype than Cyberpunk 2077. First announced in 2013 with a small teaser trailer, it was finally released on December 10, 2020. Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world role playing game or RPG. The game is based in the year 2077 where the field of human body modification has advanced to the point where a person can basically become a robot with cyberware. As a player, they can customize a unique character with different playstyles. The person is thrown into the metropolis of Night City where the player can interact with the story through their own decisions. In this time frame, Night City has become the last resort of the ideal American dream in the whole country, where you can either make a life filled with splendor and glory or fight for your life against the rampant crime.
As fantastical and futuristic as it is in the Cyberpunk universe, Night City seems far from San Luis Obispo county. However, the fictional city has a close connection with Morro Bay, which serves as its base due to a decision made thirty years ago.
Morro Bay’s connection to Cyberpunk goes back to the universe’s roots. Mike Pondsmith, the creator of Cyberpunk, attended University of California, Davis where he was inspired to create a series of tabletop role playing games, which today have become the Cyberpunk franchise. Covering the Cyberpunk future through a variety of years, each of these games revolves around Night City, but of course Pondsmith had to start somewhere. As a frequent visitor of the Central Coast, Pondsmith ultimately settled on San Luis Obispo county as the site of his metropolis. In particular, he decided to make Morro Bay the centerpiece of his idea where the city would reside. To this day through his games, even Cyberpunk 2077, Morro Bay has been the location of Night City. He made this decision, like I said, 30 years ago, but of course for the game he had to make the geography fit the sensibility of the game. Indeed, he had to remove the Morro Bay Rock, but in the end it’s in our home town and that is something that should be appreciated.
Cyberpunk is not the first piece of pop culture to have major ties to Morro Bay. Situated between Los Angeles and San Diego, Morro Bay attracts a lot of attention such as tourists to it’s landscape by the sea. What it also attracts is movie productions. Over the years our location has been featured or set in multiple movies with the most recent notable one being Finding Dory in 2016. Some other movies filmed here include “The Odd Couple 2” in 1988, “The Ten Commandments” in 1956, and “Destination Wedding” with Keanu Reeves, who also appears in Cyberpunk, and Winona Ryder in 2018. Speaking about celebrities, we’ve had our fair share of them who have lived within our county. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston used to own a house in Los Osos, Jon Anderson the lead singer of “YES” lives in San Luis Obispo, and Horace Grant a retired NBA player who helped the Chicago Bulls in their first three peat. In terms of books “13 Reasons Why” the book version was set in SanLuis Obispo and it is believed that some locations within the show are inspired by places in SLO.
Across time and genre, pop culture has allowed millions of people to get a glimpse into Morro Bay. It’s quite a big picture to handle, but at least we can appreciate these additions to the world whether it be through video games or movies. The map of Cyberpunk’s unique connection to our hometown is yet another immortalization of Morro Bay. The landscapes of San Luis Obispo county have set themselves within the halls of pop culture.