How Tony Hawk’s pro skater changed the lives of some of the world’s biggest skaters


Rodney Mullen still remembers the first time she went on tour after appearing in A. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater sport.

Mullen is widely regarded as one of the most influential skaters of all time, credited with creating several tricks – such as Kickflip and 360 Flip – which are now integral to the game. He turned pro when he was 13 and now turns 53, meaning he took four decades to perfect his craft and complete skateboarding. But nothing prepared him for what happened after he appeared Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.

“I had to put on top of a van because it was too intense,” Mullen says. “It was a sea of ​​people – all around me. And although I had a strong name for all those years, it was unlike anything I had seen. This was my first taste, and it just went away. I could not believe that the game gave me exposure. “

THPS The first was not a skateboarding video game, but it was the most important. It was not just a digital take on sports’ it was also a window into a cumbersome subculture. It was over-the-top in places, but it was largely believable on skateboarding – and not only because it recreated the complex world of tricks. It made fashion and music an integral part as well as a tribute to itself like no sport before. In September, two decades after the series debuted, the first two games will be remade, giving a whole new audience experience.

“It’s a bit of a time capsule,” Mullen says. “The essence that makes skateboarding special is still represented in the game.”

First of all THPS Debutted on PlayStation in 1999 and was developed by a then largely unknown (and after closing) studio called NeverSoft. It felt like a quick smash hit; It sold millions of copies, and a year later it was ported to the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast. It is unlikely that anyone working on the game had imagined that it had become a pop culture phenomenon. But it was an exciting opportunity from the very beginning for the skaters involved.

Skater Chad Muska says, “I just remember that it initially seemed surreal to me, especially when skateboarding was going to happen in a video game that would be available on consoles around the world.” “It was just a crazy idea. I remembered, ‘Let’s go. Let’s do it. For Bucky Lasek, it didn’t take long before he realized the project before turning it into something special. “I can’t say that I imagined it would be as big as it grew.” “But I can definitely see that we were up to something. If this is something that I am being punished on, then I think other people will be cheated as well. “

Chad Muska.
Photo: activism

Musk believes that time was one of the major factors behind the success of the game. In the early 1990s, skateboarding was largely dying out, with even the biggest names having to contend. This changed later in the decade, thanks to a large share of X games. The Extreme Sports Showcase was closed in 1994, aired on ESPN, and created a mainstream appetite for skateboarding. Five years later, Tony Hawk landed a legendary 900 – a trick that involves almost two-and-a-half times spin – after 10 unsuccessful attempts during the X Games. Stage was set for THPS. Says Muska, “With this video game, the underground culture of the streets in every person’s home in the world is revealed, which had a lot of video game consoles.” “Overnight, it was a household name. I am Was a household name. And everyone in that game became a household name because of this. “

Mullen’s approach is slightly different. Despite being one of the most influential people in skateboarding history, he did not feature in the first game. But Mullen and Hawk have a long history together. The two skated together as teenagers in a group called the Bones Brigade, which featured many of the top professionals of the 1980s. In 1989, Mullen left the group to sign with World Industry, and was able to watch Hawke’s ascent to superstardom from afar. He says that he felt like an outsider at times, worried by other team members, Hawk judged him for leaving. He kept in touch, but there was a distance.

“Then from anywhere, I was on tour and I broke my ankle. And I was thinking that it happened without any reason and I needed a friend, “Mullen recalls. “And so little Tony can relate. I overcame all that weirdness and reached out. ‘Hey man, I wanted to meet you because I don’t know if I’m going. I don’t know that It’s a sign. I don’t know what’s going on. “He was like, ‘Sure, let’s meet.’ So I met him on crutches in a restaurant, saying, ‘Tony, what do you mean by this?’ And he said: ‘It means you got hurt. It makes no sense. Heal, and get skating again. And by the way: Do you want to be in my game?’ I was just blown away with me. Will also take time to hang out, very little will get me into the game. How it started. “

For those who were depicted in the early stages THPS The game, the effect was immediate and long lasting. Muska says he remembers being recognized while skating on the road, and fans would come up to Mullen at airports to talk about the sport. Even now, if you watch skate videos on YouTube or Instagram, there are many top commentary references THPS. Lasek says the recognition continues today. Some fans say, “They don’t know me to be an X Games gold medalist, or to be a professional skateboarder for 30-plus years, or to be a rally car driver.” “They know me as a video game character. I am still far from it. “

Now looking back on it, the skaters I asked to speak are proud of how early they were THPS The games represented skate culture to mainstream audiences, whether it was using the complex linguistics of trick names, again creating the simplicity needed for street skating, or featuring the likes of Goldfinger and The Dead Canadians Kick-Ass Soundtrack. “It was a pure representation of what we were about,” says Mullen. “And it gave a real sense of what we do in the world and why it’s so addictive to be a skater to begin with.” Even if you are not good, you can still get addicted to the mindset. It is a way of seeing the world. “There are some embarrassing, funny, ridiculous things about the game, but I won’t change any of it,” says Muska.

Bucky Lasek.
Photo: activism

Today, the production of a new video game can be a large-scale undertaking. In the lead-up to Remaster, the original cast members THPS The scan was carried out so that their current similarity could be depicted in the game, and the process involved massive leaks, capturing from all angles. But with those original games, things were far less technical. There were basic motion capture suits, and developers would film skaters showing tricks from multiple angles before putting their minds to how they work.

Mullen remembers that there were times when he didn’t want to stop performing for these sessions, and so the developers would stay in the studio with him for a few nights. Occasionally, kegs were included. However, the care that the developers took gave them the most shock. “I dug the specifics of everything I did,” he said. “The amount of attention to detail, and wanting to do it with fidelity and being true to skateboarding, and showing that respect, is the part that blew me away.”

For the most part, the upcoming remaster stays true to the original games. It has updated graphics and some online features, but otherwise, the core of the experience remains intact. (That said, including the franchise’s dismal recent history, THPS5, Meaning fans should still be cautious.) One of the big changes, however, is the addition of a fresh crop of skaters: modern superstars such as Tyshaw Jones, Nyja Huston, Leo Baker, Leticia Sufoni, Auri Nishimura, Lizzie Armamento and Shane . O’Neill will be featured alongside all the original cast. Even Tony’s son Riley – who was seven when he was original THPS Came out and is now an experienced pro – will be playable. Many of these skaters grew up playing sports.

Muska says he is particularly proud of the category of people who helped inspire the sport, such as those featured by the new cast of skaters. “It’s really cool to see the diversity of people, to see more girls in it, just to see everyone,” he says. Mullen says that there is a mutual respect across generations that makes this new facility particularly special. “You can see it in their eyes,” he says. “I’m amazed at what they’ve done, and they’re looking at me like, ‘Oh my God, you were in the game!” are u joking? I can’t believe where you took skateboarding from, and now we’re in the game together. In this regard in 20 years, in such a spontaneous way, I hardly have words about how terrible it is. “

Remaster collection of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Coming on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on September 4, more than 20 years after the series first debuted. A lot has happened in that time. Skate videos on VHS tapes have given way to clips on Instagram, while video games have only become more ingrained in pop culture. On a personal level, Lasek expanded his horizons by becoming a professional rally car driver, while Muska continues to explore art and fashion through the lens of skate culture. Meanwhile, Mullen still skates most nights, but he is a fellow at the MIT Media Lab and has had several TED talks. Despite all these changes and the amount of time passing, Mullen believes that those early games still represent a skateboarding culture that has yet to be replicated.

“As time goes by, nothing makes me understand how dedicated I am to my talent and time and focus. I am more proud to be a skateboarder than anything else, ”he says. ” Tony Hawk The games captured the essence of skating in a way that is pure and has stood the test of time, and they are keeping it there now when there is a big window into skateboarding in the world. There is no better representation of this. “

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