Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Ralph D’Amato who is displayed on card number 3142, from the Superstars of 2019 Collection. Ralph is the producer and member of the development team that created the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game franchise. He produced the documentary “Pretending I’m a Superman – the Tony Hawk Video Game Story”. He is the bass player for the Dead End Road whose song “Sin City” was used in the Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 video game. You can see more of Ralph’s work by visiting his webpage at www.thpsfilm.com, as well as his Instagram @thpsfilm. Click here to order a copy of the DVD.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I played GTA5 for roughly 5 years straight. During that time, it was pretty much the only game I played. That stopped after Red Dead Redemption 2 came out. I HAD to complete the story mode in that game…such an epic story! I play a lot of the COD franchise and I just started playing Rust…yeah I know I’m late to the game. I LOVE FPS games, always have. I’m also really enjoying Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 that recently came out. It really brought back a LOT of memories. As far as genres… FPS, Old School Arcade, Racing and THPS.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I met Walter when my wife and I picked him up at LAX to drive him to his interview for my film, Pretending I'm a Superman - The Tony Hawk Video Game Story (thpsfilm.com). The executive producer on our film, Sean Fontenot… who I believe is also on one of your cards..connected us.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Today's video games are quite a bit different than the arcade games I grew up on. A lot of that has to do with the power of computers these days. The graphical ability of a modern video game destroys any arcade game I used to play. I feel arcade games of the 80’s had more to do with game mechanics and less with graphics. Since you couldn’t really WOW an audience with amazing graphics, game designers had to focus almost exclusively on creating addicting gameplay mechanics. I am a fan of both though. I have an Xbox One and I still play my old arcade games on mame emulators.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
The first video game that I played had to be Pong. My uncle owned a little sandwich shop, and he had this Pong game that my brother and I would play all day long. What I remembered most about it was feeling like I was doing something out of the “real world”. It felt like I was interacting with a TV show. Video games were in their infancy, but I was happy to be there at the beginning.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Wow THIS is a tough one for sure. Just one, eh? Ok if it HAS to be just one, I would pick Phoenix for the arcade game and Black Knight for the pinball machine. Close seconds would be Tempest and Xenon.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
No, not at all. When Walter suggested it, I was extremely stoked! Receiving it at Walter’s 70th birthday bash was an even bigger honor!
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Zen. He’s just so calm and centered and makes you feel like you’ve known him forever. He’s a very friendly, kind-hearted person.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I never really got into the portables aside from playing games on my iPhone. I did just purchase a hand-held mame system that has tons of old games. I’m really enjoying that at the moment.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
After arcades I went right to PC gaming. We did own an Atari 2600, but that was the only console I had for many, many years. I got into consoles when I started working on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series in ’99. When I went to work for Tony Hawk in 2006, I made the shift to using a Mac, and since that point, it’s been pretty much console gaming for me.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I played GTA5 for roughly 5 years straight. During that time, it was pretty much the only game I played. That stopped after Red Dead Redemption 2 came out. I HAD to complete the story mode in that game…such an epic story! I play a lot of the COD franchise and I just started playing Rust…yeah, I know I’m late to the game. I LOVE FPS games, always have. I’m also really enjoying Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 that recently came out. It really brought back a LOT of memories. As far as genres… FPS, Old School Arcade, Racing and THPS.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
I think music in video games has a huge impact for the user. It sets the tone of the game and adds to the overall “feel”. A fast-paced song will influence a designer to provide fast-paced video game action, etc.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
I believe it's a little bit of “all of the above.” The larger audience probably being adolescents.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
I believe some video games shouldn't be played by younger kids, that’s why there’s a ratings system, just like movies. I grew up watching the Roadrunner blow up the Coyote and Tom chasing Jerry with a hatchet and it had ZERO impact. I had great parents that taught me right from wrong, so the stuff I saw on TV or in games didn’t lead to me acting violent…ever. Video Games aren’t the issue, parenting is the issue…in my opinion.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I enjoy playing online with friends. When he’s not too busy…. as all 18-year-olds are J…I like to play COD with my nephew Chris. He’s got the young kid reflexes, so I tend to do better playing with him, than alone.
Which company makes the best games and why?
NEVERSOFT! I think I could be a little biased though. I really do think Activision has been dominating and it’ll be hard to knock them from the top.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
I learned a LOT of patience playing old school arcade games. I also learned how to budget my quarters.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
For me they are. I will often take out stress in COD.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
I can’t say I’ve been a fan of any of them aside from the original Tomb Raider. I think there have been some misses there for sure.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
I really don’t think I can say any other character aside from Tony Hawk. That character created careers for many people.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
Having fun and taking a break from the real world.
Which console company is your favorite and why?
Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft? I’d probably have to say Sony because they are where the THPS series started, and they really enjoyed our games. When our demo for THPS came out, they didn’t push us back for having a “retry” feature. You weren’t supposed to be able to retry demos. After a single try, the game was supposed to send you back to the demo menu, per the Sony guidelines. I guess they liked our game so much they left in the retry.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why?
Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style? For me it's always the gameplay. I guess maybe that comes from the arcade days where that’s all you really had. I understand the difficulty in providing fun/addicting gameplay, so for me that’s why it’s at the top.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Sometimes, but sometimes they can be a letdown too. I don’t think a video game should depend on boss battles as their hook though.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
I’d say currently they are the same, COD. I really LOVE playing the single player campaigns, I’ll generally play them over 2-3 times. Once I’ve completed the campaigns, I’ll generally end up playing months and months of online play.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
Not at the moment but I’m always up to produce a new video game. I have a couple ideas kicking around…what video game player doesn’t?
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I did produce my own game…you can check it out on iPhone or Andriod. It’s called Transworld Endless Skater…. yes, another skate game. I do have a couple ideas kicking around for game and I’m hoping someday they might see the light of day, so stay tuned!
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
Wow, another tough one. I have to imagine that VR will have a larger impact in the future as games become more and more immersive. 20 years is a LONG time so no telling what we might be playing?