There is some very sad news out of The Chinese Room this week. Jessica Curry, co-director and composer at the studio is stepping away due to illness. In a touching letter penned October 9th, she went over all the things that are making her come to this choice. It appears to be a hard one for her to make but one that must be made due to the circumstances.
She also went into detail at how sexisim in the industry and the media as aided in this choice. Cited issues that with Dan Pinchbeck getting all the credit for work she had a large part in.
“I thought I was strong enough to lead the charge, to prove through talent and hard work and positivity that women have a vital role to play,” she says. “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.”
“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.”
“I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to get credit for the work that I do is if I take a step away from Dan. I love Dan so, so much. He is a talented, intelligent, shining-souled man. This is not a rejection of him but of the society that still can’t cope with the fact that a woman might just be as talented as the man she shares her life with.”
There also seems to have been issues with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture publisher Sony: “I can’t go into detail here for the reasons above but what I can say is that I look back at the way we were treated and it still makes me shake my head with disbelief. Big business and the creation of art have always been extremely uncomfortable bedfellows and making Rapture proved to be no exception for me.”
The Chinese Room is known for games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs will be moving forward without her as a key part of the day-day operations. This is a very sad day for The Chinese Room and games industry as a whole. Working as a co-director, she helped shape the new narrative storytelling that The Chinese Room innovated on. Games such as Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture demonstrated games built on story. Games that allow the player to experience a world of ideas rather than violence. It is my hope that this is not the last we see of Jessica in the industry. She has been a great voice for ideas and innovation. Our thoughts are with her and her family at this hard time.
You can read her full letter here