Everybody's Gone to the Rapture was an acquired taste, and it was also a nightmare for The Chinese Room's co-head Jessica Curry to make. As part of a frank and eye-opening blog post, the luminary announced that she will be stepping down from her current position, and cited illness, sour publisher relations, and sexism as the reasons for her departure.
In the message posted on the British developer's official website, Curry explains that she's been living with a degenerative disease, and suffered a particularly rough patch in the summer. "Having a progressive illness is not like cancer or a stroke or a heart attack," she said. "I am going to get worse – that's a simple fact."
However, it's not just illness that's been getting to her. "So much of the stress that I experienced was caused by what I see as the desperately toxic relationship that I was in," Curry explained, pointing to The Chinese Room's publishing arrangement with Sony. "I look back at the way that we were treated and it still makes me shake my head with disbelief."
She doesn't really delve into any other details, but strongly suggests that making the PlayStation 4 exclusive wasn't a particularly pleasurable experience. "I want to surround myself with honest, open people whom I can trust," she added. "I've heard so many people say, 'Well, this is just the way that publishers are' and 'This is just what the games industry is like'."
It's interesting because, from the outside, Sony appeared to put a lot of weight behind the game, and also seemed extremely supportive of what is, in truth, a pretty out-there project. It's hard to imagine the company attempting to change the creative vision of the title, for example, as it appeared to embrace the unusual aspects of it.
The conclusion of Curry's blog post paints a picture of personal unrest with the games industry as a whole, though. She points to sexism as one example, citing instances where she's been mistaken as fellow studio co-head – and husband – Dan Pinchbeck's personal assistant. "One magazine would only feature Dan as studio head and wouldn't include me," she sighed.
The good news is that, while Curry will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of The Chinese Room, she remains a company director, and will continue to score the studio's games. Whether the firm will be working with Sony again, though, seems unlikely on the evidence of this post. Irrespective, we'd like to wish Jessica all of the best – some of her work on Rapture really was astounding.
@get2sammyb This is just sad that there are still sexist jerks like that in this day and age, sigh.
I hope she's able to overcome this degenerative disease, and finds a new project.
@ToddlerNaruto She's going to be working on some music with poet Carol Ann Duffy next.
This really surprises me because many developers both 1st party and second party have consistently said that "Sony are very hands off" when it comes to projects they work on. Regardless of what you think of it, Rapture was not a game that had the prying eyes of a big corporation behind it. Maybe it was down to Sony pushing the devs to reach deadlines etc (which would be within there rights to do so since they funded it) and the pressures of development alongside her illness gradually took it's toll.
I've not seen sexism in my line of work (software development) in over 20 years. Credit at the companies I've worked at has always been attributed based on ability.
Having read the blog linked to in the article above it seems that Jessica's partner took credit for the company's products and success and she was sidelined as a result. Like it or not if you are joint head of a company and your partner does all the presentations and PR and doesn't make a habit of reminding customers that you're an equal partner then many of those customers will assume you're an employee rather than the head of the company.
Maybe the blog omits details that more specifically identify sexist attitudes towards her but on the face of what's in the linked article it just reads like her partner took the credit wherever he could, and her contribution / talent / standing in the company was ignored as a result.
@adf86 Yeah, she may well be talking about the broader challenges of working with a publisher here. Maybe she simply means that working with someone demanding deadlines, etc was more challenging than being independent, where you have more freedom to set your own targets and goals.
This is sad news hope she's doing alright
I just recently read somewhere that Psyonix, the Rocket League dev, wasn't to happy about their publishing deal with Sony either, but their game being featured on Plus could be part of it (less money than with regular sales).
We shouldn't forget that Sony, just like MS, Nintendo, Apple, Samsung etc etc, aren't our friends, but are companies that want to make money. If Sony feels that your game will sell better with the flashy marketing they have in mind, you can be mad because you wanted 30 different artist to make an abstract mural of what you think represents your game...but Sony has the last say. And if Sony has the Q&A guys telling them the game needs a run button, the games needs a run button
Huh complaints about journalists being sexist, the people all to often crying on about industry sexism.
i feel for her in many ways but i find it hard to believe sony were being so unreasonable when other people have sang their praises in partnering up them, TCR's previously did indie releases right, i imagine she just couldn't handle the obvious and expected restrictions with working with a major publisher in that regard.
Wow, such a shame. My thoughts go out to her. Surprised to hear those thoughts about Sony, but more so about her health. Good to see such a rotten thing not holding her back from living life.
@sonicmeerkat Most feminist crusaders are sexists in disguise. Polygon and Kotaku are perfect examples.
I hope she finds happiness.
My lecturers told us that publisher deals are going to be tough but understandably so, though few are willing to be hands off, which is an issue they had trouble with. They also said working for Sony is a pain, due to having stuff constantly sent back because they either don't make up their minds, or god forbid move deadlines and expect fully designed assets within a week.
@get2sammyb One thing that did come to mind after commenting was that Sony Santa Monica were helping with the project so it's possible she could been referring to them, since I imagine that they may well have acted as the go between.
@Boerewors I don't think Psyonix were unhappy, I think they said they were conflicted as to whether to put it on Plus because when they made the deal they probably thought a game that relys heavily on it's online community might struggle but when buzz from the beta came, they had second thoughts.
All I can say is that EGTTR is an incredible game so if she was involved I hope she continues to make games in some form or fashion
Someone should tell her that cancer can get worse too. I have to say, I immediately took a dislike to her when she opened her complaining with a "my illness is worse than other illnesses" line.
And yeah, I don't really think it can be blamed on sexism. I've never heard of her before, I've heard of her husband. It really does sound like Dan took all the credit and PR opportunities because I've seen him cropping up all over the place for years but this is the first time I've heard of her. If I saw him at a gaming con with her, I'd assume she was just his girlfriend or wife, I don't think that makes me sexist. If she was a man and I saw them together and a gaming con, I'd still just assume he was Dan's friend or possibly partner. The key thing is that most people hadn't heard of her, not her gender. There are many other cases where the wife totally overshadows the husband. Did people used to think Prince Charles was doing all the humanitarian work and that Princess Diana was his PA? Or on more equal terms, do people commonly mistake Angelina Jolie for Brad Pitt's PA? Who here actually knows who Meryl Streep, Judy Dench and Helen Mirren's husbands are?
"It's interesting because, from the outside, Sony appeared to put a lot of weight behind the game, and also seemed extremely supportive of what is, in truth, a pretty out-there project."
Miaozactly. Her walking simulator received tons of support and positive press for what is, let's face it, barely a game. C'mon now: Sony believed in her. 9 out of 10 indie devs would eat kitty litter to get the sort of backing and free publicity Everybody's Gone To The Pub Or Summat got.
As for sexism and people taking credit, well, it's a cat-eat-cat world and nobody owes you free treats. If you aren't able or prepared to do the necessary work to make a name for yourself, you can't expect complete strangers to know who you are. At one point, nobody had heard of Hideo Kojima either. I don't think he cried about it and expected the industry to roll out a red carpet for him. He probably hid in a cardboard box though.
Sounds like she's a fragile person and being in the games business - which is, after all, a business, which means it's about results and products and profits, not emotional affirmation - isn't for her.
The games industry is generally a horrible place to work anyway. I love games as much as I love Sheba chicken and turkey with gravy. But even I know it wouldn't be fun to work in a cat food factory.
I hope her health improves and she finds satisfaction in her future projects.
It's a shame she can't name & shame the people responsible. I hope her next project is a more positive experience for her.
@get2sammyb Is it me or does the place of "dev" seem very awkwardly placed, or am I mistaken in thinking you mean developer for it.
Well this is one side of the story and we probobly won't get the other side, she want's to try working for minimum wage then she can QQ about harsh treatment bless her cotton sock's she has to settle for the Company Director position, sound's more like sour grape's to me about not getting the position she wanted. We'll never know.
What's grim is rather than concentrating on the good work done and the debilitating illness she has, Sony and sexism has become the track of the story. Unsure what's happened there but its a sad fact that the spotlights on sexism and seemingly will be for eternity rather than the illness in question.
I watched a film about the original 3 manned team making a game set in a house were you look at pictures and stuff. In that video from about 6 years ago they (as in all 3 members of the team) went to great lengths to explain that going alone is the only way they can make the games they want as they all worked for bigger companies before becoming the china house. So why now be upset by a publisher when they were aware of it ages ago?
As for looking like someone's PA that's unfortunate but who was this person and what was the situation? I've said crazy stuff without realising before - you just say 'I'm the director actually' why does everyone have right to be instantly known? Why would you get so upset about it?
@SuperCat But that's the point - her health WONT improve its a degenerative disease. I'm annoyed that the illness isn't highlighted at all. What is it?
I've just read the blog, it seems her hubby really annoyed her. Rapture was her idea and her fella Dan pitched it to Sony and Sony said 'lets do this!!!' Dan didn't tell them Rapture was his wife's idea and she was bitterly disappointed. Her disease felt like it was killing her in the summer as well so to be fair shes not been in a good place. why she's brought up this sexism rubbish though in her leaving epitaph and used language such as crusade screams that she's confrontational. What a mad way to move on.
Lets think back on this before everybody throws stones at MS and acts like its the most evil company that exists. I don't care what anybody says, I'm still not convinced Amy Hennig leaving Naughty Dog was as simple as people tried to make it seem. I definitely think there was some corporate bs going on but the apologizing for and acting like Sony is perfect is endless.
Anyway, good for Jessica Curry if leaving helps her to better enjoy life despite her illness. Best of luck to her and though I personally didn't really care for the kind of game her and her team created, the industry is better with people like her than without so if she ever wants to get back in hopefully she can.
Let's be real folks, Sony is still a Japanese company, and correct if I'm wrong, but the Japanese are a bit more traditional than in some other parts of the world. Would it be wrong for Sony heads to want to work more with her husband because they feel more comfortable working with a man? I feel bad about her "disease", but maybe she should use her position of power to bring knowledge and financial backing to help those with her disease instead of down playing others with different diseases. I will take the word of the majority of other Dees
that sing Sony's praises instead of the word of one woman scorned, probably scorned by her husband.
Watch the language -Tasuki-
Almost forgot, her game freaking sucked, what other major publisher besides Sony would have even given that crap the light of day? Answer: None.
Wouldn't surprise me if there was a Patreon donation link somewhere in that blog post
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