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Chinese Room studio head leaving games

Dear Esther dev Jessica Curry cites health, toxic publisher relationship, industry's treatment of women as reasons for stepping away from the medium

One of the developers behind Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is stepping away from the games industry. In a blog post today, The Chinese Room studio head Jessica Curry said she would retain her company directorship at the developer, but is otherwise going to start pursuing a career as a composer.

Curry gave three reasons for her departure. She brought up health concerns first, saying she has a degenerative disease and the final stretch of work on Everybody's Gone to the Rapture took its toll on her and forced her to re-evaluate her priorities. That tied into her second reason, which stemmed from her experiences working with Sony Computer Entertainment America on the game.

"Working with a publisher made me extremely unhappy and very ill," Curry said. "In the end I didn't even recognize myself anymore- I had turned from a joyful, fun-loving, creative, silly, funny person into a short-tempered, paranoid, unhappy, negative heap. So much of the stress that I experienced was caused by what I see as the desperately toxic relationship that I was in."

Curry didn't go into specifics, but alluded to friction between the developers' interests as artists and Sony's interest as a for-profit business.

"I want to surround myself with honest, open people whom I can trust," Curry said. "I've heard so many people say, 'Well, this is just the way publishers are' and 'This is just what the games industry is like.' What I would say to that is while we all keep accepting this, while we are so afraid to challenge this behaviour then it won't change and we all deserve nothing but the meager crumbs we are thrown."

Finally, Curry chalked up her departure to the games industry's treatment of women, noting how frequently it assumes less of her than her husband and co-director at the studio, Dan Pinchbeck.

"On a personal level I look back at my huge contribution to the games that we've made and I have had to watch Dan get the credit time and time again," Curry said. "I've had journalists assuming I'm Dan's PA, I have been referenced as 'Dan Pinchbeck's wife' in articles, publishers on first meeting have automatically assumed that my producer is my boss just because he's a man, one magazine would only feature Dan as Studio Head and wouldn't include me. When Dan has said 'Jess is the brains of the operation,' people have knowingly chuckled and cooed that it's nice of a husband to be so kind about his wife. I don't have enough paper to write down all of the indignities that I've faced."

Curry's first project in her new career will be "a large-scale music project" which she is embarking on with Britain's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Related stories

Significant layoffs at The Chinese Room as studio goes dark for new project

"Is this the end? No, I don't think so," Dan Pinchbeck writes as majority of staff are let go

By James Batchelor

"This industry is not going to protect us. We have to learn to protect ourselves"

The Chinese Room co-founder Jessica Curry calls for greater diversity in the industry, says everyone needs to do their part

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (52)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
*sigh*

Can we just, like, y'know... accept what a woman says in this industry, and about this industry, without being condescending? Without being rude? Without assuming she's full-of-herself? Please?

With regards to the blog-post:

That Sucks. She's a great composer (absolutely loved her Machine For Pigs soundtrack), and I do hope that she gets the recognition she deserves in the future.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
Bad luck Eric - you were a "salty" away from a full bingo card there. :)
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios2 years ago
Eric. How about resisting the urge to call someone mentally ill until you've got a qualification in clinical psychiatry, eh? Free speech does not protect libel.

It's all very well to say this is just Jessica's experience and therefore not representative. But it's consistent with the reports of many other women in the industry, each of whom is told "it's just you". When the Next Gen Skills Academy surveyed female devs, they found a disturbingly large percentage reported experiencing discrimination. This is not an imaginary problem.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
@Eric - It was just cheeky observation that you'd managed to include pretty much all the phrases from the reactionary handbook when an article such as this is posted - "Narrative", "Pointing out sexism IS sexist", "White Knight", "Self pitying", "Censorship" (which invariably leads to "1984"). There's a basic template for these counter arguments used over and over, and I actually thought you were joking by putting them all into just one response!
Sounds like I misread it - I shall keep the smiley face, but I'll put it plain and just say instead "I think you're wrong". :)
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
You are saying you think I am wrong. Fine. But is that it?
Many reasons initially. But a fresh one is that you just used the word "Manosphere".
Why aren't you explaining, possibily in a rational manner, why?
Because I have no ambition to either change your mind or need to explain my own ideology. In much the same way as the original blog - it's a personal opinion piece. It's not really inviting rebuttals.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
It was a joke Eric!
There is no argument here. As far as I can tell on *either* side.
My point was merely that someone has expressed a personal opinion (and, yes, accusations are also personal opinions). and that the current climate where people feel it necessary to jump in and challenge people's feelings, to think that those personal opinions need to be countered, it's fit only really for mild bemusement IMO.
Peace.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jamie Firth on 10th October 2015 1:33pm

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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
Well that escalated quickly...

It wasn't long ago at all when I saw Jessica at a recent BAFTA event, on the panel. It was clear her experiences with large publishers (Sony) and some of the issues of sexism and gender imbalance within the industry really affected her. Of course, seeing it as a wider issue that should be addressed in order to create a better environment for all.

Its a shame that she'll be leaving and I had no idea she was suffering from illness but I certainly wish her all the best for the future.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
I think you're taking my comment a little too seriously Eric, escalation or not ;)
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
@Eric
I can't see anything in Adam's comment that directly relates to your personal debate at all. There's no reason why you shouldn't seek to debate something that you wish to air your views on, you of course have every right to do so.
It's entirely possible though that some people reading the article are only concerned with the issue presented in the article itself. Just by virtue of being here, vocalising your thoughts, doesn't make you the center of the debate. Nobody is under any obligation to respond just because you wrote it.

There's a case for having a threaded comments section :-)
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Robert McLachlan Game Designer 2 years ago
There's a case for nuking the comments section from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
Neither the blog or what comes out of it is harmless.
Agreed. But is it more harmful than the alternative of ignoring it? Almost certainly not.
I take your points on board, but I profoundly disagree. I suggest we take this offline (by which I mean "stop talking about it online.") :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jamie Firth on 10th October 2015 3:45pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
There's a case for nuking the comments section from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.
Oh I don't know, its the most exciting thing that happens here. ;D
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
@Eric
Firstly - I'm not commenting on your or anyone elses arguments because I don't wish to, and again, commenting on your argument is not implicitly the only reason to post here.
Secondly, I'm not claiming that you're seeking attention. You're making assumptions about what I said, which *is* actually the criticism I would make in general. I feel you're basing a lot of what you say on assumptions, and your interpretation of what you think people are alluding to, rather than basing it solely on what they say.
That's my point regarding Adam's comment, and your reaction to it.
I read his comment as likely meaning that he thought things had escalated between seeing Jessica at a recent event and the situation as reported in this article. Now, that may or may not be the case, but my point is, you have made an automatic assumption that because you're posting most frequently here, then such a comment obviously amounts to a veiled attack on your argument.

Again, I am not suggesting you're seeking attention. I'm only suggesting that you're *assuming* association of all that is posted to your own argument. I'm just pointing out that you are but one voice here, and some people may very well be here to engage in a different dialogue, even if yours is the most contentious and you presume they're here to attack it.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 2 years ago
There's a case for nuking the comments section from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.
Shouldn't you wait until we all get a safe dis....ah screw it. Push the button.
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Mike Gregory International Sales Manager EMEA, Sound United2 years ago
I wish I had this much time on my hands.....
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Rachel Weber Senior Editor, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago
Hi,
You might have noticed that we moderated Eric's comments, as they violated our house rules. Eric has now left our GamesIndustry.biz community at his request.
Thanks for posting.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-10-20-our-house-rules
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
Came late read Eric's comment, but reading yours makes me thing that it was provably something not nice.

@Morville
I have to agree with you once again. Each time this topic pops-up first thing I see is people jumping into a defensive stance. Really made me wonder if people is being defensive because they want to believe sexism doesn't happen in games industry (like it does in a lot of other sectors in general), they are afraid that they are to blame for that or (in the worst case) they want the art of making games to remain a guys club.
Any of this cases is equally terrifying and kinda hopeless if you ask me.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
A large part of this is communication. I read her post and detected a high degree of whining in there, at least some of it brought on by her own actions or expectations that the world isn't duty bound to match.

And in fact whenever I take the time to read such messages, from men as well, re mr Fish, that's usually the case. So it's very hard to detect if there is any actual abuse going on or the person in the spotlight is just being a primadonna.

I'm afraid "sometimes journo address me as mrs x" falls extrememly into the latter category given that she is indeed mrs x. Just how many eggshells are people meant to step on for fear of upsetting someone these days?!
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
I think people here that are honest in their comments have to be careful what they say or risk upsetting someone and having posts removed or even banned. This is not how conversations should be, with fear and trepidation that the PC police will come in and bash you if you don't follow their prescribed narrative. I do think this just ends up with people not being honest and turning this place into an echo chamber.

I personally don't think any of Eric's early posts on this article were worthy of being removed (of course the last 8 hours I was asleep so can't comment on recent posts) and were opinionated for sure, but were not bad in any way.

Poor use of the banhammer GamesIndustry.biz....once again.

Edited 16 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 12th October 2015 10:01am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Consider that she was a hair's-breadth away from having a number 1 album on the UK classical music charts, and only didn't get it due to shenanigans.

Consider that her soundtracks for Dear Esther and A Machine For Pigs have won her awards.

I think, to be honest, if I were in that situation, and I was referred to as "husband of X", I'd be pretty damn annoyed too.
I think people here that are honest in their comments have to be careful what they say or risk upsetting someone and having posts removed or even banned.
To be honest, I found Eric's armchair psychology and assumption that she was egotistical in expecting credit for her ideas just plain disrespectful, and not how someone should treat anyone else in public. But that's (probably) just me. *shrugs*
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
But that isn't the main crux of it though, his first posts were his opinion and whilst you may disagree with his assumptions, it is no more or less than we all do, you included Morville.

We should be able to voice our opinions (right or wrong and of course keeping it reasonably civil) without fear of being sanctioned for opinion. Getting things wrong is essential for development of ideas, we should all be able to say stupid things now and again. It's good to reflect on things later down the line, it helps inform us of who we are and what we believe.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 12th October 2015 10:55am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
@Darren
I think one can give opinions without accusing somebody of something, which seems that is what happened here for what I read.
It's not what you say, but how you say it. As I told to some commenters we have around "if somebody came here to be rude, they should get back to <xxxxxxxx> or any other website where pointing fingers and throwing personal attacks are more tolerated"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 12th October 2015 12:08pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
This is why I couldn't say anything about any comment Eric made after last night as I would not have read it, I am just going from the posts I had read up to that point. But sure, there are limits to how far you can take things on this site and I don't condone any vicious behavior towards other members. But I don't think someone saying something like "You are an asshole" or "I think they are talking shit" should be grounds for post deletion.

I suppose its about finding a nice balance between letting people say what they want, but not letting people be total dickwads at the same time.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 12th October 2015 1:50pm

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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
Purely as a social experiment I had a look at what the comments were like in the ign news report of this. I somewhat naively thought that a general gamer audience would at least be split fifty fifty. I was pretty depressed to see it almost universally attacked Jessica Curry. Maybe it was the just the time I looked (I did not do an in depth read of the comments. Felt too sickened). But if that is how the majority of gamers respond no wonder women feel they are treated poorly in the industry
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
@John

Thing is reading what she said carefully to me it did not seem a criticism of her husband or the company she worked for. Her direct criticism seems to be aimed at journalists and people outside the company who she felt were assuming she wasn't really in charge. She even makes a point of stating her husband tried to correct the journalists when they made these assumptions to no avail.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 12th October 2015 4:07pm

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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
I have read it again and to me it still reads as I said above. A complaint about how people who interviewed her perceived her and again with a very clear indication that her husband tried to correct that view
When Dan has said 'Jess is the brains of the operation,' people have knowingly chuckled and cooed that it's nice of a husband to be so kind about his wife. I don't have enough paper to write down all of the indignities that I've faced."
I honestly can't read it another way (although I can see how I could if I had skim read it). Again just to clarify. My point was not that she was right or wrong in how she feels she has been treated. My point was simply that I think her criticism is clearly to me at least of journalism towards her and not of the company itself or her husband

There is some complaints about Sony the publisher but this appears to be more about the artistic vs financial side of things than the treatment of women in the industry so I wasn't referring to that.

So in summary her attack seems to be on games journalism. I read nothing in that where she is attacking the people she worked with. Indeed she specifically states that Dan her husband tried to correct people when they didn't view her as being in charge

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 12th October 2015 5:06pm

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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
Purely as a social experiment I had a look at what the comments were like in the ign news report of this. I somewhat naively thought that a general gamer audience would at least be split fifty fifty. I was pretty depressed to see it almost universally attacked Jessica Curry.
Quite interesting. The only comments I looked at when the news story broke were the ones on Eurogamer and there she had a lot of support.

Where things seem to unravel is that many people see a personal account on a negative experiences as an attack on the whole industry or the whole press, where I noticed the replies becoming more agitated.

I think people need to step back and take a personal account for what it is. It may or not represent a wider issue, but that's where one can start digging a little deeper to find answers.
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Rachel Weber Senior Editor, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago
@Darren Adams

Eric actually asked for his account to be removed after stating he felt the comments he made were inappropriate and he wasn't proud of them.

Our house rules are easily accessible and apply to anyone who wants to be part of our community.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-10-20-our-house-rules

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rachel Weber on 12th October 2015 6:03pm

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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
I know I'm being pedantic but if you are wondering why people become more agitated it's due to comments like the one you just made.
You can read into it however you want, but a feeling there's a problem with an industry as a whole based on a personal account, doesn't mean every single person within, working for it or associated with it has a problem. Sorry, but that's just silly.

Look at any sector, business or environment that has perceived to have an issue, its not because the majority population of these institutions or industries are nasty people or wish to drive staff to the ground, or are sexist, or racist, or don't look after children properly.

Sometimes the problem is structural and a lot more complex than it may seem on the surface. This is why I mentioned the act of digging a little deeper once you get past this personal account or opinion on the industry in question. Because every one is a valid perspective.

I think there are structural issues too, Jessica is not unique, but I tend to come up against a knee jerk defensiveness when trying to provide personal or wider observations on what those problems are, why they exist and how they affect people - because people usually take it as a personal attack, unless they've either seen or experienced it themselves.

Most of said responses stem from insecurity and a lack of critical thinking.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th October 2015 5:59pm

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Dr. Nick Robinson Associate Professor in Politics/Videogames Research, University of Leeds2 years ago
As someone who works in academia, I am perhaps less qualified than many of those who have posted to comment on this thread. That said, there are a couple of observations which I would like to make. First, it is probably worth emphasising that Jessica Curry's decision to speak out was unlikely to have been taken lightly. Regrettably, as Justin's encounter with IGN has shown, there is unfortunately a highly vocal internet community (albeit I accept a minority) who perhaps all too predictably have seen fit to attack Jessica for her comments. The treatment which followed EA spouse, gamergate etc. are all testament to that. Secondly, it is worth emphasising that her reported comments encapsulate three issues - they may be inter-related; they may not - her personal health, her experiences working with a publisher, and her sense of lack of self worth as a women within the industry. It is clearly very difficult to unpack which of these was most important to her (and indeed how these inter-related) but it does seem to me that to ignore the importance of gender and her perceptions of the strains caused by industry working practices, which ultimately were deleterious to her health would be a serious oversight. Jessica's comments are not unique to the video games industry - far from it - but they do seem to be common to the nature of many of us working in the 21st century.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
@John

I know my answers are wordy but please read what I said again! ;)

You told me people get agitated because of comments like mine. I'm explaining the reasons they get agitated (because they feel either they, or every individual vaguely associated is being attacked). Gamers, managers, journalists, whoever they are.

My response to that, is that one needs to see the wider context and think critically about who's actually saying this, when they're saying this and why they're saying this. Because what she's really critcising in my point of view is mainly structural issues, as well as various other micro-aggressions she has personally experienced.

Dr Robinson made a good comment here;
Secondly, it is worth emphasising that her reported comments encapsulate three issues - they may be inter-related; they may not - her personal health, her experiences working with a publisher, and her sense of lack of self worth as a women within the industry. It is clearly very difficult to unpack which of these was most important to her (and indeed how these inter-related) but it does seem to me that to ignore the importance of gender and her perceptions of the strains caused by industry working practices,
All of which she's touched on before such as that BAFTA panel I attended and in this blog to varying degrees. Few people are willing to look at things that way and proceed to break it down further. A wall of defense comes up immediately.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
Eric actually asked for his account to be removed after stating he felt the comments he made were inappropriate and he wasn't proud of them.
Whilst I personally didn't agree with all of what he said, I respected his opinion and could understand where he was coming from on one or two points. As I mentioned, reflection is a great tool for seeing things in a different light and I am sad he felt he needed to remove his whole account.

I was trying to make a point (successfully or not) that we should try to understand people even if they say things we don't agree with. I don't want to see people leave here because they feel bullied out for not sharing the views of their peers no matter how different they are.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
OK John, that's not what I meant and hopefully I clarified later in my post, I probably would have expressed it differently if I was speaking. The structures and biases she perceives to be present in the industry and the behaviours of each and every individual are a different thing. The only individuals she calls out more specifically are those who did or said something to her.
It was a smart way of saying "shut up because you're not allowed to have an opinion on this matter"
No, not sure where you got that from. All I was saying is that criticisms of the industry shouldn't be taken as personal attacks on oneself.

The better responses are trying to distinguish what are structural issues or biases vs any confined cases she as one person has experienced, with no relation to any wider issue. That is fair to scrutinise.

Bad responses are ranting about how not every Tom, Dick and Harry is a bad person or creates hostile working environments. That's actually not relevant to the topic because we wouldn't be speaking about them in the first place.

That's what I meant by "you can read it however you want", I'm usually more specific but as I said, I did elaborate.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
I would also add that as much as I was arguing against certain assumptions I felt Eric was making, I didn't regard anything he was saying as being outright unacceptable. It being his choice to wipe his account, there's little to be done, but if he happens to read this - I'd just like it to be known that I certainly don't object to the simple act of being involved in a heated discussion. If a discussion changes your understanding on something, great! If you consider your position and choose to stand by your views, that's entirely respectable too.
I'd also like to offer apologies if any of my comments came across as overly personal.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
John, I know you don't see it as a personal attack, I'm not talking about you specifically! :)

In my reply, I'm clearly talking about a large wave of responses to this (and other topics) that are either self defense, #butnotallpeople or everyone has problems get over it. I have read a lot of comments on this announcement - Eurogamer as originally stated and since then, IGN. It happens everywhere, even here sometimes.

For people like us who are working in and associated with the games industry, in my personal opinion I think we should care more about the issues and the topics raised, more than we do about whether the industry might look bad. Otherwise, sadly the same issues go back under the rug. Consider all the people that have left games due to crunch/unpaid over time, pay issues, progression problems, zero hour contracts or seasonal lay offs, and today we're talking a lot about the same things but also more about diversity, work life balance, neutrality in media, cyber bullying, gender and other things too, whilst also worrying about skills shortages and how we adapt to changes in technology and consumption of games.

Too many industries and institutions are worried about been seen to have any problems. The first step is accepting that there might be and as professionals let's address it and lets think about how our trade and support bodies can get involved. If we worry about image more than anything, or just about how nice we are individually, that is not a good thing.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense to explicitly consider this case in isolation. For all we know, this woman may have suffered countless injustices and have been made to feel awful, or she could be fabricating the whole thing, or anything in-between.

The only plain fact is, this *isn't* an isolated case. It seems highly unlikely that *all* women who report such things are making it up... which to my mind points to there being a problem.
Given that it does, I don't see why we should seek to discount someone's word based purely on our own presumptions. This case in and of itself may never see a more significant resolution than seeing a clearly talented woman abandon an industry, so really, what is even being debated at that point? Whether to sympathise or to exclaim "good riddance!"?

It seems to me the only thing really worth talking about here is the wider problem that this case appears to be indicative of.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dan Wood on 12th October 2015 10:31pm

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
@John
"It was an attack on the whole industry."
Can't help but point how you call it "attack" instead of "Criticism". I don't see nukes flying or people asking for heads to roll. I see a criticism that, personally, saw justified and proven multiple times in multiple companies. One that in a lot of cases is answered with a big wave of denial, a few excuses, couple of "don't generalize" and a pile of "not everyone is the same"

She had a terrible personal experience and ultimately she had to quit it because it was not longer worth it. She is not talking about your company or the company I work with, she talks about how things are in the industry for a lot of women and she is perfectly right in doing so. Now we can call it "attack" and ignore it or we can wonder how bad can it may be if somebody who is the head of a project ends throwing all the hard work again and leaving the room for good.

Still (as a general rule, not pointing at you here) we choose to ignore that considerable number of women complaining about the situation like we ignore the dragon in the living room. We choose the easy comfortable way. We say that they "exaggerate", we say that "I just see comrades, not genders" (like of that solves the situation everywhere else), we say "This doesn't happen in my company" (Plato would be proud to hear this one) and, my personas favorite: "She is trying to push an agenda" (The easiest way to dismiss somebody's opinion: just call it "agenda" and you can drop every point they make without even understanding what she is talking about. You don't even have to read about it again! works like a charm!)

Can't help but thing that if this person were to be a guy, the story here would be a lot different, and we would have 1-2 comments here maximum. All of them starting with "best of luck" and "hope he ends doing more project in the future". How many of this ones we have here? Because the industry lost a GREAT talent with her, and all we seems to care right now is what she said about this industry of ours. No surprise that nothing changes and no surprise if she is not the last to leave the room forever.

Have a good day.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
As for the comments on IGN. I haven't read them but if they are what I think they are all I can say is all the efforts to make the industry and gamers less sexist seems to be having the opposite effect.
That just makes me feel that it's important not to give up. Sitting quiet and giving up is not the answer. I personally feel that it is very likely that what Jessica says is true. There are for too many independent accounts from women in the industry for me to dismiss it as a one off. And there are far to few women arguing it's not true. The problem is that's it not deliberate sexism for the most part. It's an ingrained thing so much so that many people who do it don't even realise they are being sexist.

To show how ingrained it is I'm willing to hold my hands up and say that if I sit back and analyse myself I am guilty of it to some degree. For example I find games where I play a male character more likely to make me want to give them a go than those with a female one. Is it because being male I relate better to playing a male character? No. I played the Tomb Raider reboot and once I started playing felt no more disconnect with the character I was playing as than if I was playing a male character. Indeed. The characters in computer games are so disconnected with what I am like personally whether they are male or female would make no difference. But deep down at a level that when I sit back and analyse there is a bias towards playing games with male characters that makes me uncomfortable. And even after playing tomb raider and finding it no less enjoyable playing a female character and becoming aware that I have a bias towards games where you play as a male character I still feel more drawn to games where you play a male lead. And that makes me feel somewhat ashamed of myself really.

It's just one example and a personal one at that but I really do believe that sexism is so subconsciously ingrained in gaming society and industry that it really is a problem.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
I'm not ashamed to play a man at all. I am ashamed that if I see a game with a female protagonist I will feel less inclined to play it even though I know when I have played games with a female protagonist in the past I enjoyed playing them the same as those with a male one. From a selfish perspective alone if I don't resist that feeling I could well deny myself the chance to play a great game.

To reiterate no one has made me ashamed of playing a male character. I am ashamed of the feeling to shun a game when I see it has a female protagonist.

And speaking out about what you see as inequality like Jessica has is not activism. It is just sharing her feelings.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 13th October 2015 1:16pm

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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
I'm not disputing the word. I'm just pointing out the context. Which is nothing to do with playing a male character and everything to do with the fact that despite knowing I've in the past enjoyed games playing as a female character something in me still feels put off when I know there is no rational reason to do so based on past experience.

And to reiterate further. You are right you didn't use the word ashamed. I did. And I'm not ashamed because I worry about what people will think of me if I admit my failings and flaws. Otherwise I'd have hardly done so here. It's a personal thing based on my own personal moral and ethical viewpoint that has developed over my life with various experiences

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 13th October 2015 1:52pm

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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
I promise no one has made me ashamed. I am ashamed that like your analogy with movies that I would even question my enjoyment of game with a female lead character when I even know from personal experience it didn't detriment my enjoyment of it in the past.

My brain against all evidence has an irrational response despite the same brain having a positive experience in the past that proved the irrational feeling null and void.

In some respect it is off topic but in another way as I said earlier it is relevant. To me I'm dismissing a female character because I have irrational bias. And it's done for the most part subconsciously which is my original point. Sexism exists to a level we don't even realise we're doing it sometimes. I don't actively think when I dismiss a game that it's because it's a female protagonist. I just feel uninterested in it. It's only when I've stopped and asked myself why I realise the reason is because I was put off by playing a female character. And yet I know I've had no issue when I've played a female character before.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 13th October 2015 2:29pm

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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
It is what makes us human. But I still feel it makes me a better human to recognise and push past my irrational behaviour when I recognise it. Maybe ashamed is too stronger word but I definitely feel disappointed in myself for the shallow response. If going back to Tomb Raider I had played it and disliked playing a female character and it ruined the game for me then yes I wouldn't really have a problem with that. That's not sexist. I would just relate better to playing as a male character. But that fact it didn't detriment my enjoyment at all and yet still I can be put off playing games as a female character suggests that it is an issue that would not hurt in overcoming properly

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 13th October 2015 2:34pm

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
@John
Ok, I see you have chosen to believe that. so be it. I still disagree and I think that you took this too personally and trying too hard in dissecting her words.

@Justin & @John

Without trying to sound like I'm mocking you, maybe you two should give each other's FB or Twitter. You seem to have a long debate here and maybe this place is not the most comfortable one for it. Just saying :)
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 2 years ago
Good grief no. Both you and John are right that whatever are differing viewpoints what the point John and I were discussing has gone on way too long for any forum :)
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
@Alfonso
Personally, I'd rather they didn't. Just because they're the only participants in a particular discussion doesn't make it any less interesting to read and consider.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
But that fact it didn't detriment my enjoyment at all and yet still I can be put off playing games as a female character suggests that it is an issue that would not hurt in overcoming properly
I agree entirely Justin... my own gender role identity is something I've personally begun to actively consider, as it's often demonstrably absurd if you just give it some thought. A while back I was picking up a toothbrush, and I picked up a blue one... and then considered how preposterous it was that I was conditioned to avoid the pink one at all costs. So I grabbed a pink one instead, simply to try and un-write that silly notion from my head :-)

Oddly enough, I've never found that in games - I've often found female lead characters (on the rare occasions they exist) to be more compelling, for reasons ranging from quality of writing, to simple quality of voiceover work (Mass Effect - Jennifer Hale kicks ass :-)).
I *have* found myself shy away from admitting as much in the past though, (wouldn't want to appear GAY or anything!)... which is preposterous for multiple reasons :-P

So yeah... I intend to always seek to challenge such things in myself, and I'd encourage anyone else to do the same. Considering your own failings and seeking to correct them is vital to growing as a person.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
@John
That sounds like some fairly presumptuous beliefs to me.
You seem entirely sold on the idea that the struggle various women relate their problems to doesn't exist.
What if it does, and you just haven't personally experienced the effects of it?
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
Too often everything is framed in the context of this imaginary struggle. There's no one stopping women from entering and working in the industry. She isn't some modern day suffragette but rather a director of a company that has made a successful game who is now annoyed that she didn't get enough credit and that her husband stole the limelight.
This type of thinking I believe is really bad for the games industry but I've said so before. If this is your default viewpoint on the entire subject and anything like it then you're making it impossible to have a balanced debate.

You'll reject anything other professionals like Jessica has to say and maybe even attempt to derail the topic away from looking at a wider issue that just keeps coming up.

I hope that at some point in the future you may find a way to challenge your own viewpoints critically without feeling your ability to have an opinion on the subject is being taken away from you, or that people only use their platforms to complain about nothing.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
John, your words speak loud enough really. You are predisposed to thinking anyone who brings up an issue surrounding gender or any related subject is making up an imaginary struggle and its not the first time. Which means by default you think her blog, however emotive is just an opportunity to whine about personal failure. That's a personal, willful ignorance you have to deal with.

All I added to the discussion and rightfully so as a response to Justin's 'experiment' was that many of the knee jerk negative responses on social media (which apparently you haven't read) are mostly coming from those who take the blog as a personal attack every individual in the industry, rather than the structural issues and habits that are present today, which she has continually alluded to.

Bear in mind, I wasn't originally talking about you but you decided to take on the "negative character" in question. Or at least, associate yourself with it, suggesting that I'm trying to shut down your opinion by widening the debate - which I find very strange and completely incorrect.

I'm not sure where painting a picture of innocence comes into it. The difference is by saying she wanted to "lead a change" in what she perceives to be a problem with the industry (something I get), I'm not predisposed to thinking that Jessica has a issue with me as a man or an individual in the industry or that any struggle women speak about must be made up. That was the choice you made.

It probably helps that I've seen examples of what herself and other women speak about and can hypothesize as to what the causes may be, hence why asides from being less defensive, I can look at the issue in a completely different way. You are physically unable to, so again, to you it must be another "agenda" not simply the fact that I don't have my head buried in the sand.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 13th October 2015 9:22pm

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Marianne Monaghan Senior Producer, Hangar 13 Games2 years ago
My experience in the industry has been for the most part very positive. And yet Iíve experienced dozens (hundreds?) of little slights that remind me on a weekly basis that I am ďotherĒ or even ďnobodyĒ to some people. Iíve known several women in the business who hit a point where they just didnít want to deal with it any more. Most describe it as a feeling of profound fatigue.

When I read something like Curryís blog post, I am disappointed that another one bit the dust. I do not judge her for deciding that the challenges are no longer worth the rewards. Itís a question that many of us, men and women, will ask ourselves at some time during our careers. Letís not take shots at one another when someone opts out and explains why that was his or her own individual decision. By sharing her story with us, she gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own situations and that of the industry in general. Perhaps we will even make positive changes that benefit us all.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
@John
You on the other hand have chosen to believe what you want to believe.
Or maybe I believe what I think is right and make sense to me and I happen to disagree with you. That may be possible too, right? I'm a adult man with a stable work and my own problem and I really don't have a reason to worry about this issue unless I really see it as a problem. My last post is long enough to prove my point, the fact that you agree or not with it is a different story, but again, it is NOT "what I want to believe" it what I have saw more than once in this industry and I rather fight against it than make my little room of denial within it. Now THAT would have been "choosing what I want to believe", and the easy way out of it.

If that your stance regarding my point of view, then I think we have nothing else to discuss. My opinions are my own and are well thought and deserve some respect when shared.

Have a good day. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 14th October 2015 8:28am

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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 2 years ago
@John
You aren't aware of "the reality". All you're aware of is the same sweeping generalisations you've already convinced yourself of, that you interpret what you're reading here as a reinforcement of.
You seem convinced *you* have a problem, because you seem convinced that "women" are going to automatically jump on something you also seem convinced is nothing more than a bandwagon, used solely for the purpose of dishonestly furthering womens' assumed personal agendas.
You don't, and can't *know* any of this. That you seem convinced you can be certain of it, and are pre-empting being accused of sexism, because of how you perceive women in general to be - that IS prejudice.
This isn't other people projecting prejudice onto you. That prejudice is your own.

If you work on that prejudice... then you may very well find that not only will you never be the target of a sexism lawsuit, but you'll end up seeing less of a threat and thus be less afraid as well. Prejudice is invariably borne of fear, address one and you'll reduce the other.

Don't take this as a personal attack. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm prejudiced against women... and various other groups in varying degrees. It's practically impossible not to be... it's woven into the fabric of our society and our upbringing. I give it a lot of thought and consideration these days, and yet I *know* that even in spite of every effort not to, if it came to something like a job interview, I would *still* probably hold someone like a female programmer to slightly higher levels of scrutiny than a man, because somewhere deep down, I've been taught to associate men==better at technical/engineering stuff. That is prejudice.
That prejudice is in there, in every one of us, believe me... if you got a toy car as a kid, and your sister got a dolly... it's in there.

Denying that you play any part in it, or denying that the problem even exists, is, quite literally, to MAKE yourself part of the problem. The only way you can avoid doing so is to take a good long look at yourself, and work on it. Telling yourself it's someone else's issue won't get you anywhere.
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