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How Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater changed gaming … and skating | Games

CKiteboarding has always been declining and growing in popularity, according to professional skateboarders Rodney Mullen and Chad Musca. “We’ve seen this train ride, and every decade there’s usually a huge peak and then a dive,” Muska said. “But we haven’t felt the fall in a long time.” After the crash in the early ’90s, the skateboard enjoyed a slow ride to the top. The guys from the original skateboard boom, now in their 40s, are now much more than teenagers in skate parks.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, rap and hip-hop integrated with skate culture; skate videos rejected dirty VHS aesthetics and fisheye lenses for faster cutting and smoother shots. Fast forward to 2020 and children raised with this culture are now being honored. John Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, is an adult film for skateboarding, while Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, is now signing professional skateboarders to design shoes for his fashion house.

The arrival of the X Games in 1995 created exciting opportunities for skaters and attracted many new sponsorships. But credit should be given – perhaps unexpectedly – to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video games, which debuted on the PlayStation in 1999 and acted as a digital ramp for new skaters. Generating more than $ 1.4 billion in sales, they helped bring underground culture into the mainstream to the point that it is now an Olympic sport. The games introduced a generation of impressionable children to skateboarding and immersed them in skate culture: clothing brands and trick names became part of the vocabulary of players, while soundtracks were full of everything from punk rock and metal to rap and hip-hop.

He pays homage ... to the mid-90s.
He pays homage … to the mid-90s. Photo: Tobin Yelland / Altitude Films

“The games introduced skateboarding to the world, directly to so many households,” says Musca. “His cultural impact on skateboarding was so significant. I can’t even begin to quantify it. “

Mullen, considered one of the most influential skaters in history, was a protagonist in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. He has first-hand experience of how life-changing these games are: he was ready to give up skateboarding before Hawk asked him to appear in the game.

“I called him and said, ‘Hey, man, I’m thinking of giving up. I don’t know if it’s a sign, I broke my ankle, “says Mullen. Hawk’s answer surprised him. “Did you hurt your ankle?” Big deal. This means nothing. Oh, and by the way, do you want to take part in my game? “When Mullen went on tour the following summer, a month after the game came out, there were more people watching him than ever. “It was crazy,” he says.

He remembers being approached by two big boys during a late skating session in a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles. “They looked like, ‘This is going to be bad,'” Mullen said. “And then suddenly one of them just leaves, wait, aren’t you the man in this game?” He turned to the body language of a small child, asked me if I could do this trick or that trick. It was a crazy thing. “

“My question is,” Mullen continues, “that when the game came out, it not only blew up the existing community and our place in it, but also brought awareness and respect to the skates of outsiders; especially with language. This has to do with me. They taught people our language … ”

Lizzie Armanto.
Lizzie Armanto

I remember when the game was announced and people were like, “Oh, that’s going to lead to all these fools just sitting on couches and playing games.” It turns out that some of the best skateboarders in history actually started because of the game! “

Muska believes that Tony Hawk’s games were responsible for breaking the stereotype of skateboarders at the time. “Initially, when someone thought of skateboarding, they thought of white people, punk rock and California,” Muska said. “These cultural barriers have been broken.”

27-year-old professional figure skater Lizzie Armanto is a new addition to the virtual list of remastered games by Tony Hawk, released this month. The 20-year-old X-Games gold medalist, Armanto appeared on the front cover of skateboarding magazine Thrasher and TransWorld and was the first woman to complete Tony Hawk’s infamous 360 cycle. Armanto makes her voice heard when it comes to inciting prejudice in the skate scene. An emotional video called “Over the Noise” details the sexism Armanto has to deal with on a daily basis as he reads comments on social media with female skaters Jen Sotohe and Samaria Brevard.

“There is a microscope on women and their appearance, and people are not so careful with their words,” says Armanto. “I think I’m really lucky and I’m extremely grateful to have a skateboard as a background, because it helps you create healthy skin, both physically and mentally.”

Although there is still work to be done to achieve inclusion in skateboarding, Armanto is confident that the scene is making positive progress. “I definitely think there is a change,” Armanto said. “Even when I first started, some family members said, ‘You’re too good to skateboard,’ or my grandmother used to say, ‘You’re too fragile.’ “Armanto believes that the growing noise encourages more people than ever to take a skateboard, regardless of their background.

The change is reflected in the language: at the time Pro Skater games were first released, the trick, called dumb air, was so named because its creator, a deaf amateur skateboarder named Chris Weddell, was known as the “quiet, dumb man” other skaters. . It will be known as the wedding grab in the new game.

“It’s very important [skateboarding] it’s diverse and includes people from all over, because that’s what skateboarding is all about, ”says Armanto. “It’s always been about what you do, not what you are.”

“Skateboarding is like music,” says Muska. “You can be a billiards skater or a street skater. Wert skater or park skater. You can be an emo skater who is interested in Cure, or a child from rapper SoundCloud who listens to underground rap. This is what a professional skateboarder really does – when children look at this person as a role model and imitate his style and want to dress like them, skate like them and listen to the same music as them. “

Reversing the formula ... Tony Hawk's pro.
Reversing the formula … Tony Hawk’s pro. Photo: Activision

While its introduction to the Olympics brought skateboarding to the sport, for skaters it has always been an art form that sees innovation in style and movement, be it freestyle skateboarders like Isamu Yamamoto or Aaron Homoki’s challenging drops.

“I am very strong [the idea] that skateboarding is not a sport, ”says Mullen. “We are a whole culture with a specific language and a way of doing things and expressing who we are, not some [competition] it shows up every year … Street league, the Olympics, more power for them, but that’s not the whole picture. “

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