We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture: AHRC research underpins new game

Date: 11/08/2015

screenshot from within Everysbody's gone to the rapture of a mysterious orb of light floating in a field of corn with trees surounding the field

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is the new game from The Chinese Room, the studio responsible for the critically acclaimed, Dear Esther.  The game has been underpinned by research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in a picturesque English village – but the village is deserted, and it seems likely that it ultimately holds the key to a terrible secret: ‘what happened to all the people?’ The game pushes innovative interactive storytelling to new heights. And like just is predecessor, Dear Esther, it has been developed from platform of academic research.

Dr Dan Pinchbeck was awarded his first AHRC grant in 2007, in order to engage an audience for a discussion about the importance of narrative in videogame; but instead of publishing an academic paper, he made a game. The resulting game, Dear Esther, won awards for storytelling and visual art, and received accolades from reviewers worldwide. It was also a runaway commercial success, recouping its full development costs within six hours of going on sale and selling over 50,000 copies in the first week.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture saw a second AHRC grant to expand upon the learning from Dear Esther. Dan says: ‘we wanted to continue exploring new ways of delivering narrative in first-person games, but also to create something that drove forwards storytelling.’

Dan continues ‘Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is our first title as a fully-fledged commercial game studio. There were two strands to the work. As we developed the prototype, we were exploring both game story and other interactive stories to ensure we were creating something genuinely open and non-linear. Whilst we were doing this, we were talking with Sony Santa Monica about the potential for the game within today's marketplace, and were fortunate to find a commercial partner as excited about the opportunities for doing something new and different as we were with the AHRC during the prototyping/research phase.’

‘One of the things we are most proud of is that it continues to lend weight to the argument that innovation, research, exploration are not just key principles that have taken root at the centre of our studio, but that these values are the result of our origins in academic research. It also demonstrates clearly that these values are shared across the academia/industry divide, and once again we would like to thank the AHRC and applaud their vision in seeing that cross-sector knowledge transfer is fundamental to driving innovation in such a fast-paced field as gaming.’

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture launches today exclusively on PlayStation 4.

  • Read: Read a feature about Dear Esther and how the game was developed.
  • Watch: Watch a short film about how the AHRC is bringing academics in the arts and humanities together with the video games industry
  • Listen: In this audio slideshow you can here Dan Pinchbeck speak what academia can bring to video games

Notes for editors

  • If you would like to request a media interview  with Dan Pinchbeck or you would like to request high res images from Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture , please contact Danielle Moore-Chick  at the AHRC Press Office on tel: 01793 41 60 21 or email: d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class research in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and many more. Each year the AHRC spends approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training often in collaboration with partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds provide considerable economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK.
Return to news list