Tony Hawk partnering with Activision to produce a series of skateboard video games was perhaps one of the most lucrative team ups in gaming. In the late nineties, if you owned a Nintendo 64 and DIDN’T have Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, then either your parents didn’t love you, or the store must have sold out.
It was a revolution that put skateboarding, a purely physical skill involving trial, error, and injury, into the hands of gamers, making the sport more accessible. It taught me about the physics and mechanics of skateboarding just as much as Goldeneye taught me the physics and mechanics of shooters. In the twenty years since it was released, Activision has released a fleet of sequels on just about every console up to and including Android and iOS.
Make Us Feel Like Skaters Again
One thing that this series, in its two-decade tenure, has managed to do is keep bringing us back for more by doing things correctly. The series blends the real-life risk of falling off your board a bunch of times with the triumph of finally managing to pull off that crazy trick. It was like an entire generation of kids could suddenly get into skateboarding without having to skin our knees or break our bones. Not only that, I learned how to speak like a skateboarder, with the Pro Skater series using all the lingo that would normally be used by a professional.
It felt like a window into a club that we as kids weren’t cool enough to get into. This meant that for the better part of twenty years, Tony Hawk and Activision were pumping out not just fun-to-play, amazing games, they were actually selling us a feeling of belonging. That’s what sets this game apart from other genres. You can’t feel like an actual secret agent just by knowing how James Bond likes his drinks, but you CAN feel like a real skater if you know what a 360 Indy Grab is.
The Secret Ingredient
That’s the real beauty of these games: accessibility. There are loads of games that exist in order to bring gamers into a new world, but so few of them bring them to a real world. The Tony Hawk series of games allows gamers to feel transported to a world that’s real and yet not real to them. That’s why we play games in the first place! Every time we grab a controller, in our minds we are putting on Master Chief’s helmet, or grabbing Arthur Morgan’s brown jacket. So when we grab our skateboa- I mean controller, and try out a new half pipe… it gives us a sense of accomplishment in our world. Not only can we 360 no-scope any Covenant at our backs, but now we can pole jam, method grab, and cave man our way into feeling like Tony Hawk.
They Fell Off And Didn't Get Back On
Unfortunately, Pro Skater 5 came out in 2015, and the mobile game Skate Jam was released in 2018, but aside from that, things have definitely started to waver. While Tony Hawk is still skating, making YouTube videos, and learning new tricks at his age, the game series itself seems to be stuck in stagnation. With mixed reviews for Skate Jam and divided opinions on the last few Pro Skater games,we need another Tony Hawk game like nobody’s business. Not only was this series a pivotal part of our memories, these games are a view into a world that a lot of us still want to be a part of all these years later. We watch Tony’s videos, and memorize the names of these moves, all while never having set one foot on a skateboard. This isn’t just a game series, it’s a sense of belonging, and we as gamers want to keep feeling like we belong.