Skateboarding has been shaped and influenced by many skateboarders throughout the years. The first skateboards started with wooden boxes, or boards, with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. Crate scooters preceded skateboards, having a wooden crate attached to the nose (front of the board), which formed rudimentary handlebars. The boxes turned into planks, similar to the skateboard decks of today.
Skateboarding, as we know it, was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. This was called “sidewalk surfing” – a new wave of surfing on the sidewalk as the sport of surfing became highly popular. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at around the same time. The first manufactured skateboards were ordered by a Los Angeles, California surf shop, meant to be used by surfers in their downtime. The shop owner, Bill Richard, made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, which they attached to square wooden boards. Accordingly, skateboarding was originally denoted “sidewalk surfing” and early skaters emulated surfing style and maneuvers, and performed barefoot.
As the popularity of skateboarding began expanding, the first skateboarding magazine, The Quarterly Skateboarder was published in 1964. John Severson, who published the magazine, wrote in his first editorial: a small number of surfing manufacturers in Southern California such as Jack’s, Kips’, Hobie, Bing’s and Makaha started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards, and assembled teams to promote their products. One of the earliest Skateboard exhibitions was sponsored by Makaha’s founder, Larry Stevenson, in 1963 and held at the Pier Avenue Junior High School in Hermosa Beach, California. Some of these same teams of skateboarders were also featured on a television show called “Surf’s Up” in 1964, hosted by Stan Richards, that helped promote skateboarding as something new and fun to do.
When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, the skateboard video game, was released two decades ago, it opened up skateboarding culture to an entirely new audience. Kids all over the world who had never picked up a skateboard in real life, were spending hours attempting tricks like the McTwist, Madonna, Impossible, and the Stalefish, and they were doing it at some of skateboarding’s most iconic locations.
The developers of the game series recreated historical spots in skateboarding like Wallows, a drainage ditch in Hawaii, that were frequented by skaters in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Carlsbad Gap, a spot at a high school in Southern California that became famous in the 1990s. In every game level, an ode to skateboarding’s rich history was hidden in plain sight.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater takes place in a 3-D environment permeated by an ambience of punk rock and ska music. The player takes control of a variety of famous skateboarders and must complete missions by performing skateboarding tricks and collecting objects. The game offers several modes of gameplay, including a career mode in which the player must complete objectives and evolve their character’s attributes, a free-play mode in which the player may skate without any given objective, and a multi-player mode that features a number of competitive games.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was met with critical acclaim for all versions but the Game Boy Color version, which had a more mixed reception. The game resulted in a successful franchise, receiving eight annualized sequels developed by Neversoft from 2000’s Pro Skater 2 to 2007’s Proving Ground.