Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Co-Creator Quits | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Co-Creator Quits

Jessica Curry, co-head of developers for The Chinese Room (the team behind Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) has left the studio with an emotional blog post explaining why.

It’s not a rant, and it’s not an exercise in self-pity. It’s a revealing and damning look behind the curtain at the overt and covert sexism that still taints the entire video games industry.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking games I’ve played in some time. It is set in a fictional English town in the mid-80s some time after what may or may not have been an apocalyptic event of some kind. You travel through the deserted town and empty houses, piecing together the story of what happened and perhaps more importantly, what happens next.

It’s a moving and beautiful game that has been lavished with critical praise and commercial success. Better writers than me have penned several stories discussing and analysing it. Meanwhile I still struggle to put my thoughts about it in order, despite finishing it weeks ago.

The Chinese Room is also the studio behind Amnesia: a Machine for Pigs and Dear Esther, and were headed by the husband and wife team Jessica Curry and Dan Pinchbeck.

In short, a combination of what she calls a “toxic relationship” with the game’s publisher, a degenerative illness and the rampant sexism she has encountered in the video games industry have brought Curry to a point where she feels she her only option is to step down.

By the looks of it, Curry has found herself belittled, scorned, ignored and insulted, frequently individually, but occasionally all at once. She lists several examples of the treatment she has received during her time in the industry. For example, she says that, “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.”

Let’s just pause for a second and think about that last one. I realise that we live in a far-from-perfect world, but just pause and imagine the person who makes a decision like that, who thinks that behaviour like that is acceptable in the 21st century.

Welcome to the video games industry, people.

For me, the most telling line in the entire post is where Curry says that “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.'” I’d love to be able to argue with this, to say that Curry has just been unfortunate, or that she’s just speaking with the wrong people. But, for all that I know there are good people in the industry, talented, creative and hard working people who genuinely don’t care where or what your reproductive organs are, I know that she’s right.

It’s an attitude I’ve seen time and time again, from both inside and outside the industry. I worked (very briefly) for a small video games studio, and I made a few friends I still keep in touch with. A couple of them are women and I’ve heard similar stories from them directly. Let’s face it though, you don’t need to have worked there to be familiar with the way women are treated in the industry.

As gamers, we (and I include myself amongst the guilty here) are partly responsible for this, because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. We work, play and live in an industry that drives talented, inspired developers like Jessica Curry to leave, not simply because their health is poor, but because the atmosphere around them has become so toxic that they feel they have no other choice.

One of the few good things to take away from Curry’s post is that she’s not leaving the industry completely. She will still hold a position within The Chinese Room, and will still be working from their office.

Perhaps most notable though, is that she’s going to continue making music, and if you’ve played the game, you’ll know just how beautiful the soundtrack to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is. If you’ve not, go listen to it now–you won’t be sorry.

Follow Craig on Twitter, @d20shapedheart or email him at craig@gfbrobot.com

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