The Chinese Room

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For the artificial intelligence thought experiment, see Chinese room.
The Chinese Room
Industry Video game industry
Founded 2007
Headquarters Brighton, United Kingdom
Key people
Dan Pinchbeck
Jessica Curry
Products Dear Esther
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room (formerly thechineseroom[1]) is a British independent video game development studio best known for making experimental first-person games, such as the Half-Life 2 mod Dear Esther, and co-developing its full-fledged remake. The company originated as a mod team for Half-Life 2, based at the University of Portsmouth in 2007, and is named after John Searle's Chinese room thought experiment.

Development history[edit]


The Chinese Room's first three projects were two mods for Half-Life 2, named Antlion Soccer and Dear Esther, and a Doom 3 mod titled Conscientious Objector. The modding project was backed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Of these, Dear Esther became a cult hit. In 2009, The Chinese Room developed Korsakovia, which was a survival horror mod.[2][3]


After Korsakovia, The Chinese Room worked with Robert Briscoe to develop a remake of Dear Esther, this time as a full-fledged video game title, distributed through Valve Corporation's Steam distribution service. This stand-alone version of the mod received several IGF nominations, such as the Seamus McNally Grand Prize, Excellence in Visual Arts and Audio, and the Nuovo Award.[4] It finally won for Excellence in Visual Art.[5] The remake featured improved graphics, but was based on the same engine as the previous mods, Source. The game was released in early 2012 and recouped its $55,000 investment in less than six hours of release, when 16,000 copies of the game were sold.[6] One week after launch, the game reached 50,000 copies sold.[7]

In February 2012, The Chinese Room announced that they began development on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, a survival horror game and indirect sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. This project is being produced by the makers of the original game, Frictional Games.[8][9] It was later released on 10 September 2013.[10]

As of March 2012, the company is working on Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.[11] Initially developed on PC, the team was afraid to not receive enough funding from fans. They instead partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica Studio to produce the game. It was re-revealed at gamescom 2013 during Sony's conference as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.

List of video games[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
Lin Mac PS4 Win
2009 Korsakovia No No No Yes
2012 Dear Esther Yes Yes No Yes
2013 Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Yes Yes No Yes
2015 Everybody's Gone to the Rapture No No Yes No


  1. ^ Curry, Jessica (11 June 2013). "Welcome to the New Us". Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Burch, Anthony (25 September 2009). "Korsakovia is like the Silent Hill sequel that never was". Destructoid. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  3. ^ RPS (21 September 2009). "An Esther Binge: Korsakovia". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  4. ^ Polson, John. Procter, Lewie. (20 February 2012). "Road to the IGF: Thechineseroom's Dear Esther". Gamasutra. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  5. ^ Niedringhaus, Melissa (8 March 2012). "Independent Games Festival announces fourteenth annual awards winners". Warpzoned. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  6. ^ (18 February 2012). "Half-Life 2: Dear Esther Build Recoups Development Investment in Few Hours". Game Bandits. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  7. ^ Chapple, Craig (27 February 2012). "Dear Esther surpasses 50,000 sales". Develop Online. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  8. ^ Chalk, Andy (23 February 2012). "Frictional Confirms Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs". The Escapist. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  9. ^ Birch, Aaron (23 February 2012). "Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs announced". Den of Geek. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.
  10. ^ "So, the secret is out- Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is set for...". Retrieved on 28 August 2013.
  11. ^ Phillips, Tom (6 March 2012). "Dear Esther creator at next GameCityNights". Eurogamer. Retrieved on 9 March 2012.

External links[edit]