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News > Alumni News > OW Updates > OW Catchup: Jessica Curry (1986-1991)

OW Catchup: Jessica Curry (1986-1991)

22 May 2024
United Kingdom
OW Updates
Jessica Curry (1986-1991)
Jessica Curry (1986-1991)

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with OW Jessica Curry, whose composing talents have seen her write music for the games industry, perform at Sydney Opera House and present for ClassicFM. In 2016 she won a BAFTA for her score for the game "Everybody's Gone to the Rapture". 

Was the gaming industry something you fell into with your composing or was it always an industry that you had your heart set on working in?

I honestly never thought that I’d work in the games industry. I sometimes say that I’ve had a peculiarly un-strategic career but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always follow my heart rather than my head and this has led to some fascinating collaborations, ranging from a Requiem for a Second Life character for the Royal Opera House to writing lullabies for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The first games title I worked on was Dear Esther in 2008. My husband Dan was doing his PhD and he made a small game to show some of his theories about immersion and gameplay. We thought it was just this tiny experiment but it ended up selling over a million copies and launched us headlong into the games industry.  We started the games company The Chinese Room and it all hurtled on from there.

Why do you think we don't see as many women pursuing careers in the gaming industry and is this changing?

Sadly the industry has many systemic problems and one of them is sexism.  Many incredibly talented women, including myself, have left the industry due to the intense pressures of being a woman in the industry.  It is changing but at a frustratingly slow pace. 

What has been a career highlight of yours?

My music rounding out the first ever Games Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.  It was surreal to hear the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra belting out this huge music and then the massive audience reaction when the piece finished.  

What are some of your favourite memories of Westholme?

So many brilliant, unforgettable memories.  Playing the lion in The Wizard of Oz, ski trips, listening to records in the Sixth Form Centre, endless arguments with Mrs Jepson because I hated wearing a swimming cap, being House Captain, music ALL the time - madrigals, orchestra, choir, musicals, concerts, house music competitions, singing at the old people’s home. Being trusted to lead my row onto stage at Prizegiving and the horror of realising that I’d got it wrong and was walking toward the dozens of girls filing toward me. Cue the utter chaos of everyone behind me having to walk backwards off the stage-  I never lived it down. What stays with me most is the laughter, just so much laughter.  You will never have that time again- where your friends are your everything and it is all stretching out ahead of you.  

Were there any particular Westholme teachers that you remember fondly?

I will be eternally grateful to the wonderful Mr Ratcliffe, who taught Classics.  His kindness, humour, gentle encouragement and erudition formed my character in a fundamental way.  We stayed in touch until his death and he was simply an exceptional teacher, loved by all who were taught by him. His last letter to me ended with “congratulations on the wonderful success you have made of your life” and when I feel low or under confident I go back to that beautiful and generous sentiment.  We also had such a massive laugh with English teacher Mrs Gibson - one of my most treasured possessions is the Tommy Steele folder she made for me because I loved him so much. I think I drove her absolutely mad at times, but hope she remembers me fondly!  

Do you have any advice for our current students and particularly women, who would like to have a career in the gaming industry?

My advice would be to form strong support networks. My rise in the industry was so fast and unexpected that it didn’t leave much room for forming supportive connections and that left me very vulnerable.  Find the other outliers, whether that be other women, LGBTQ+ folk or disabled and neurodivergent people. These people will be your allies and you can help to keep each other safe and well.  

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