|Born||8 October 1984|
|Occupation||Novelist and video game designer|
|Genre||Science fiction, fantastic realism|
|Notable works||Sacred and Terrible Air, Disco Elysium|
Robert Kurvitz (born 8 October 1984) is an Estonian novelist, musician, and video game designer. He has penned essays, film scripts, and cultural criticism. He also leads the video game development company ZA/UM, which released Disco Elysium in 2019. Kurvitz has Karelian-Estonian heritage.
Early life and musical career
Kurvitz is the son of artists Raoul Kurvitz and Lilian Mosolainen. In 2001 he became the lyricist and lead singer of progressive rock band Ultramelanhool, inspired by Estonian bands Metro Luminal and Vennaskond. To date, they have released two albums, Must apelsin (Black Orange) and Materjal (Material), in 2004 and 2008 respectively. A song from the first album Talvehommik ("Winter Morning") was featured in the Kanal 2 TV series Ühikarotid ("Dorm Rats").
The band failed to find an Estonian record label for their second album. It was self-released with money inherited Kurvitz's long-time friend, editor and collaborator Martin Luiga, and released on the internet for free. A third album, Fantastika was announced on the ZA/UM website in May 2011, but it has yet to materialize.
Kurvitz largely relies on the traditions of world-building from Dungeons & Dragons in his writing, having played the table-top roleplaying game for much of his life. Others are also involved in the development of ideas. "Mass editing" was employed as a tool in the finishing stage of the book, where people of various backgrounds assessed the readability and realism of the work, pointed out confusing passages and suggested amendments.
In 2013 Kurvitz published the novel Sacred and Terrible Air (Estonian: "Püha ja õudne lõhn"). It is set in a fictional world and centers on three men who, twenty years after the mysterious disappearance of their classmates, are still determined to find them. It received mostly positive reviews, with literary theorist Johanna Ross highlighting it as one of the few books to successfully bridge the science fiction and "literature proper".
Later that year, Kurvitz resigned from his role as editor of Estonian cultural magazine Sirp when Andres Aule publicly voiced his objections to a poem being published allegedly without his permission; Kurvitz and Kaur Kender assumed responsibility.
Kurvitz founded the video game development company ZA/UM in 2016. Its first game, Disco Elysium, set in the world of the Sacred and Terrible Air, was released on 15 October 2019 with Kurvitz serving as its lead writer and designer. The game received universal acclaim, with its narrative and conversational systems receiving the most praise from critics. It won several awards and accolades from various publications.
- "TÄISMAHUS: Robert Kurvitz austab lootuse esteetikat". Eesti Päevaleht. 29 June 2012.
- "Sõjaajaloolane Jüri Kot?inev vestab – üllatus, üllatus – täna hoopis muusikast. Ansamblist ultramelanhool. Ja sellest, miks eelmainit grupp tänases ja ehk ka homses kontekstis tähtis on. ‹ Ajaleht KesKus koduleht". kes-kus.ee.
- "Ultramelanhool – päästerõngas uppunule?". Postimees. 10 August 2004.
- "Eesti rahvusbibliograafia". erb.nlib.ee.
- "Hüvasti plaadid, tere veebimuusika!". Postimees. 19 September 2008.
- "Eesti rahvusbibliograafia". erb.nlib.ee.
- "NOAR | Nordic and Baltic Contemporary Art Center". NOAR.
- "Nädala raamat: Kurvitza püha ja õudne aegruum". Eesti Ekspress. 30 November 2013.
- "Vikerkaar ; 4-5 2014-05 | Digar". www.digar.ee.
- "Kaur Kender ja Robert Kurvitz panid pillid kotti". Elu24. 25 November 2013.
- Marzano, Anthony (15 October 2019). "Police procedural cRPG Disco Elysium is out today". Destructoid. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- Taylor, Haydn (31 October 2018). "Chasing oblivion with Disco Elysium and alcohol addiction". Gamesindustry.biz.
- Macgregor, Jody. "Disco Elysium's lead designer wants to make an expansion and sequel, has already written a novel". PC Gamer. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- Makuch, Eddie (13 December 2019). "The Game Awards 2019 Winners: Sekiro Takes Game Of The Year". GameSpot. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
- Byrd, Christopher (17 October 2019). "'Disco Elysium': Riveting delirium". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- "The 25 Best Video Games of 2019". Slant. Retrieved 15 December 2019.