My Favourite Game

A skate­board­ing icon re­calls video edit­ing on Ami­gas, and how Su­per Mario 64 opened his eyes to an op­por­tu­nity for his sport

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Skate­board­ing icon Tony Hawk talks Ami­gas and Su­per Mario 64

Skate­board­ing is a time-con­sum­ing, nigh-on masochis­tic pur­suit. Ev­ery suc­cess­ful trick is born from hun­dreds of fail­ures, and its best are of­ten fu­elled by ob­ses­sive devo­tion. But for Tony Hawk, be­ing one of the world’s most en­dur­ingly suc­cess­ful skate­board­ers has left time for other pur­suits; time he came to put into Ac­tivi­sion’s long-run­ning skat­ing se­ries, which bears his name to this day. Did life as an emerg­ing pro skater in the early ’80s leave time for games? Yes. My in­tro­duc­tion to videogames was Pac-Man, and I liked it. But when I dis­cov­ered Mis­sile Com­mand, that’s when I got re­ally sucked into ar­cades. From there I got a Cole­coVi­sion. Or was it an In­tel­livi­sion? It was an In­tel­livi­sion. My dad got the In­tel­livi­sion be­cause it was cheaper. Then I learned to ap­pre­ci­ate com­put­ers. My tran­si­tion from play­ing videogames to get­ting into com­put­ers was Mar­ble Mad­ness. I got an Amiga based on the fact that you could play Mar­ble Mad­ness on it. And your af­fec­tion for games spawned a love for com­put­ing more broadly? That was it – that gate­way opened up the world of com­put­ing to me, to home video and non­lin­ear video edit­ing, and to Video Toaster. That re­ally sent me into a whole new world of tech­nol­ogy. But I was play­ing games all along too. Across ev­ery plat­form, what would you pick as your favourite game? If I would pick one from my own se­ries, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was the cat­a­lyst for hav­ing a game fran­chise, and es­tab­lish­ing a genre of skate­board­ing videogames. That was a very im­por­tant en­try in the se­ries. The sound­track was stel­lar and the game­play was every­thing THPS1 should have been. And how about out­side of the games you’ve been in­volved in? Pick­ing a game from all through the years? That’s dif­fi­cult. Prob­a­bly Su­per Mario 64. That re­ally in­tro­duced me to the po­ten­tial of 3D games. I thought Mario 64 was bril­liant. Jump­ing into paint­ings? All the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges? I was stuck there im­me­di­ately. Is it fair to say Su­per Mario 64 had an in­flu­ence on the Tony Hawk games? Yes, that was a great in­tro­duc­tion to that type of 3D mo­tion in games. I didn’t play Doom or the other first­per­son shoot­ers when I was grow­ing up. Well, I was al­ready grown up, I guess. Any­way, Mario 64 showed me that you could make some­thing 3D that was fun and that wasn’t just about shoot­ing things. You’ve just seen off Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. What was the ap­proach to the game’s di­rec­tion? Ob­vi­ously, we’re go­ing back to roots, as the THPS ti­tle sug­gests. We wanted that kind of game­play, and to re­cap­ture the con­trol scheme, the chal­lenges and the big-scor­ing trick com­bos. But bring­ing a new on­line el­e­ment to it is some­thing to make it more rel­e­vant to to­day’s cul­ture. How have you been in­volved in THPS5? Pre­vi­ously my role had been about be­ing au­then­tic to skat­ing, and keep­ing the ros­ter, tricks and lo­ca­tions more true to what skaters would ex­pect. That re­mains part of my job, but this time it has been more about be­ing true to the orig­i­nal se­ries, and to keep it au­then­tic. And that’s be­cause I am one of the only ones work­ing on the game that worked on the orig­i­nal se­ries. The se­ries has been with you a long time. How im­por­tant are those games to your ex­pe­ri­ence of skate­board­ing? It changed my life sig­nif­i­cantly in terms of my recog­ni­tion fac­tor, and in­come and op­por­tu­ni­ties. But in terms of be­ing a skate­boarder I feel it opened up an au­di­ence to skate­board­ing that maybe would’ve never recog­nised it be­fore. It in­spired some peo­ple to start [skat­ing], and I think it in­spired an ap­pre­ci­a­tion from oth­ers.

“I thought Mario 64 was bril­liant. All the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges? I was stuck there im­me­di­ately”

And why re­turn to that early era of the se­ries’ his­tory? There had been a lot of chat­ter through the years about the fans want­ing a THPS ti­tle. And it seemed like so many were go­ing back to the orig­i­nal two games, and peo­ple were buy­ing PlayS­ta­tions just so they could play them. I felt like it was a re­quest for the feel of [the Pro Skater] se­ries. I had been push­ing Ac­tivi­sion for years to do that kind of thing. THPS HD was a step in that di­rec­tion, but I knew there was some­thing more to it.

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