Unity’s Socio-historical Context and Political Economy
This chapter argues that Unity’s ‘conditions of existence’ are predicated on a long history of developer- and player-oriented videogame-making tools, practices, and communities, and that the engine’s business model is consonant with a broader ‘platformization of cultural production’ in today’s media industries. It describes the emergence of proprietary game engines in the early 1990s in terms of a broader shift from programmer-centric development to content-centric development. It argues that Unity builds on long-standing agitations for ‘democratized’ tools in videogame development, such as those associated with modding scenes and indie development. It then discusses Unity’s platform-based business model, touching on the engine’s licensing structure; its revenue model; its asset store; and its attempt to establish spaces of ‘affective intermediation’ in videogame culture.
KeywordsVideogame history History of game engines Unity game engine Videogame development Asset store Platformization of cultural production
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