Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Tony Hawk who currently is displayed on card number 3522, from the Superstars of 2021 Collection. There is no talk about skateboarding without mentioning the name Tony Hawk. His popularity in skateboarding was as big as any other top names in professional sports. He was the first person ever to land a “900”, a maneuver he was trying for almost 10 years. This feat was accomplished right at the time that Tony stepped into the video game industry with the franchise of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The Tony Hawk video game series became one of the most popular franchises in history and has surpassed 1.4 billion dollars in sales. In December 4, 2020, a documentary of the Tony Hawk gaming series was released, “Pretending I’m a Superman – The Tony Hawk Video Game Story”.
What was your first impression of the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game? Were there any changes you suggested?
I could not believe that we had the freedom and support to make something so authentic. I couldn’t wait to share it with other skaters, but I had no idea if anyone else would be interested because skating was so obscure at that time. The only changes I suggested were tweaking some tricks and adding many more.
What does it take to be digitally created into a video game? How long is the process?
It takes being scanned and photographed from all angles for a couple hours. You step into a room with dozens of cameras laced all over, then the developer translates the data into a character.
I know every game is dear to you, but if you were to pick one game of the THPS series, what would be your favorite?
THPS2 set us up as a franchise and included everything that I thought was missing from the original. The soundtrack is also one of my favorites.
Do you remember your first video game you played and what do you remember about it?
Pac-Man was the first game I played, but Missile Command kept me coming back to the arcade. I loved the trackball control and trying to blanket the screen with explosions to stop enemy fire. There was always that ONE line that got through on the harder levels though.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
The evoke the same feeling we had when we were kids, but now they look ultra-realistic. I don’t know if any game challenge today compares with the satisfaction of doing a perfect long jump - running top speed and hitting a 45-degree angle - in Track & Field though.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Not at all, but I also didn’t imagine there would ever be trading cards with skateboarders because it was so underground.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Nintendo Switch is a marvel of technology. I’m still amazed that it is a portable device
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I don’t play much these days, unless we are in development of a new THPS title. If I play anything, it’s usually a Mario title with my daughter or a ridiculous game like Untitled Goose Game or The Stretchers
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
I have a Skateball pinball machine because it is the first arcade game that used skateboard imagery. If I had the room, I would add a 720 cabinet and Top Skater.
How has the Tony Hawk video game music influence the playing of the game?
That would be for a THPS fan to answer. I hope that it put them in the mindset of skating, and a glimpse of skate culture through experiencing our music, style and artwork.
Do you think for the most part, video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
These days, the main audience is young adults. But we see that the new generation continues to play well into their mature years (with careers, kids, etc)
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from a video game?
Not always, but I’m down to try with THPS if there are any takers.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2?
The intro video, with Guerrilla Radio blasting
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
I think some can have excess violence depicted but I don’t believe they are the cause of violence itself. Considering the same games, we get in the America are available throughout the world (Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, etc), the comparisons of violent acts are not valid.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Single player: THPS
Multiplayer: MarioKart 8
If you can design your own game other than THPS, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I would try to bring back the feel and excitement of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer to the new generation of consoles, and then add myself as a secret character.
What would you be doing growing up if you were not a professional skateboarder?
Working in digital media, probably editing, or producing video. I got into it very early on and bought a Video Toaster in 1991.
Are you still involved in making more Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, and what role do you play?
I hope so, but that is ultimately Activiison’s call. My role is to play it extensively during development and give feedback on accuracy and authenticity.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
As integral in society like music and movies. We're already there in many ways, but I believe they will equalize across generations and gender.