This morning Jessica Curry announced via a blog post that she is stepping down as co-head of The Chiese Room, the studio that recently published Everbody’s Gone to the Rapture. In her honest and frank blog post, she explains her reasons for doing so. It comes down to two things. She is suffering from a degenerative disease, and she’s come to realize the video game industry is no place for somebody doing her best to stay healthy.
Curry begins her post by explaining the situation with her illness:
A couple of years ago my doctor said to me “if you try to fight this disease it will win” and I nodded like a good girl but actually at the time I just didn’t get it. Having a progressive illness is not like cancer, or a stroke or a heart attack. People are left at a loss because they can’t proclaim, “you’ll beat this thing” or “you will get better” and they can’t tell you to just “whoop its ass.” I am going to get worse- that’s a simple fact and no amount of medication, wheatgrass, mindfulness, positive thinking or acupuncture is going to change that.
This is only the first of three reasons that Curry gives for her decision to step down. The other two are squarely pointed at the industry. Curry goes on to talk, in somewhat vague terms, about how working with a publisher was a “toxic” relationship.
Working with a publisher made me extremely unhappy and very ill. 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.
Curry does specifically mention Rapture when discussing the publisher problems so it would appear her frustration is aimed directly at Sony.
Finally, Curry discusses the general problems of being a woman in the video game industry. They are issues we have, unfortunately, seen before. Still, the more we see them the more frustrating it gets. Curry is married to the other head of The Chinese Room Dan Pinchbeck, but he has been the one to routinely get the credit, even for work that she specifically had done.
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.
How many times does this need to be called out before we’ll start to pay attention? A magazine that would not feature one of the studio heads in a feature about the studio? This is getting out of hand. Curry would certainly have needed to step down at some point due to her illness but her treatment in the industry has caused her to have to leave now in order to salvage her health as best she can. The industry should be embarrassed.