Please tell us about your experienceof this website today

Experimental Gaming Studio Awarded New Funding

Date: 31/03/2017

A game development studio based in Brighton, The Chinese Room, which emerged from an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project is one of 15 companies to receive new funding, announced by Matt Hancock, Minister for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, at the 2017 London Games Festival.

Anchored on cutting-edge gaming narrative research funded by the AHRC, The Chinese Room studio created the award-winning games Dear Esther, which received five BAFTA nominations in 2013. In 2016, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture won three BAFTAs, in music, innovation, and game performer, and seven other award nominations.

The Chinese Room has now been awarded a further grant from the UK Games Fund to continue the revolutionary work in game production.

As Part of the UK’s Digital Strategy, the UK’s Games Fund Community Interest Company is funded by government in order to help establish and develop the UK’s gaming sector.

Totalling £4million, the UK Games Fund has held three rounds for competitive funding, and The Chinese Room, with its AHRC-funded research-based games have now successfully received financial support from the Games Fund to help continue develop the innovative business.

Dr Daniel Pinchbeck, the Creative Director of The Chinese Room, began with his research at the University of Portsmouth, funded by the AHRC. Dr Pinchbeck explored the roles of narrative and first-person perspective in gaming - one of the most popular gaming perspectives globally. Arguing that the content of these games tended to be comparatively simplistic, Dr Pinchbeck sought to address this problem by enhancing the gaming experience in first-person perspective mode. The result was the award-winning Dear Esther in 2013.

Owing to the huge international success of Dear Esther, Dr Pinchbeck was awarded a further grant to continue his experimental gaming research, which led to the development of other highly successful games including Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, released by Sony for PS4.

Not only is Everybody's Gone to the Rapture a step beyond the standard commercial game, but it is an example of a UK success story. A small academic team who received AHRC funding at key moments of the research and prototype stages who have gone on to create jobs in the UK, partner with a major international publisher, and showcase the benefits for both academia and industry for knowledge exchange and partnership.

During his speech at the London Games Festival, Matt Hancock said

“video games, and the wider creative industries, are at the heart of our work on developing a new Industrial Strategy”.

As part of the Industrial Strategy, the UK government has issued a Green Paper – a form of public consultation on developing the strategy. Overseen by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Green Paper invites contributions to the development of the strategy, which young and growing enterprises like The Chinese Room are a key part of.

The success story of The Chinese Room gaming studio highlights the essential role research has in developing UK's gaming industry, worth £4.3 billion, and continuing to establish the UK has a global leader in the creative industries and digital economy.

A still from Dear Esther
A still from Dear Esther


For further press information please contact Natasha Stanton, Press and Social Officer, at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, on 01793 41 6021 or

You can find out more about the BEIS Industrial Strategy Green Paper and how to contribute by visiting the BEIS website.

Notes for Editors

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. You can find out more information via or following us on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.

Return to news list