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Atari's Harrison: Democratizing Development Is An Industry Must

Atari's Harrison: Democratizing Development Is An Industry Must

October 23, 2008 | By Thomas Grove, Christian Nutt

October 23, 2008 | By Thomas Grove, Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, Indie, Student/Education

At the Unite 2008 developer conference in Denmark, in a roundtable discussion with developers and members of the press (including Gamasutra), Atari president Phil Harrison has been speaking in more detail about his vision to "democratize development" by using tools such as the low-cost Unity game engine.

Unity and Atari

The Unity game development software is currently only available on the Mac platform (though you can create games for Mac, PC and Web browsers using it).

However, a Windows tools release is upcoming; also just launched is support for creating games using Unity which will operate on Apple's iPhone.

Said Harrison, who also gave a keynote at the event and was formerly Sony's Worldwide Studios president: "I've said this to David [Helgason, CEO, Unity Technologies] -- I think they're totally underestimating what's going to happen when the Windows version ships."

When asked if Atari would use Unity for any projects, Harrison replied, "I can't give you a scoop, I'm afraid. No, both internally and externally, I expect we'll be using Unity, but we'll announce the projects in due course and at the right time."

Following on, Harrison offered, "It's really the developer's choice as to what tools and technology they want to use, guided by us. But... we are approached a lot by developers who want to use Unity."

Bringing in the Hobbyists

Harrison compared the low-cost game creation movement to the Net Yaroze development platform for the original PlayStation, which resulted in a number of "fantastic games", per Harrison, being developed by international teams during the 1990s.

He clearly thinks that bringing amateur and indie developers into the fold with tools such as Unity addresses a real need within the games industry at large. "The comments that I was making [during my keynote] were primarily from an industry perspective."

"Managing the funnel of recruitment, training, educating, and getting the skills shortage, skills gap closed, is kind of an industry-wide problem... "

Harrison concluded: "I was primarily making that comment from an industry perspective, but from an Atari perspective... I think we would want to work with creators of all types, and that's why I'm so interested in Unity, because it does democratize development."

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