Skip to main content

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.

Read this next

Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
Related topics