By Valentina Diaz
V. Diaz, a journalist and passionate skateboarder is a full-time writer for SHIT®️ Magazine.
During the 80s and 90s, how did kids and youth have fun besides going out? That's right, just like today many spent time playing digital games. But who was the first one to promote skateboarding through graphics?
The skateboarding scene of the day was full of development, skateparks began building, full pipes and pools were very popular and Hollywood movies also began to support and promote skateboarding.
Skaters like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen were just kids with so much talent but they were just starting out in their careers and its nice to see that in the future both turned into legends. By that point, they were probably skating in videogame machines as well.
The first skateboarding videogame was released in 1986, 13 years before we saw the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. In other words the 80s and all of the 90s saw a lot of opportunity to go skating virtually.
This machine brand was created to entertain and made kids feel full of energy, they were playing videogames in reach of a coin. Arcade is known as a coin-operated entertainment machine, you could see it in stores, public places and arcade halls.
Some of the most known Arcade videogames are Pong (1972), Galaxian (1979), Pac-Man (1980), Donkey Kong (1981), Pole Position (1982), 720° (1986). If you know some other Arcade Games that you also think are iconic (especially in regards to skate), let us know!
The arcade game industry began to fall due to the new video game consoles that were used at home instead of in the arcades. Now we could see how it evolved and what happened next and we are being part of it today. Currently, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 just became available together with Skater XL, both being the boom of the moment.
720° Started a New Era for Skateboarding Videogames
Back in 1986 we saw the release of, 720° an extreme sports game developed by Atari Games, the game consisted of doing tricks rolling the streets and when the player got enough points they could skate in a skatepark.
"If you score enough points before the timer runs out you earn a ticket that grants admission to one of four different skate parks, where you will compete for prize money and medals in slalom, halfpipe, downhill, and jump events. Your ultimate goal is to complete all the events in all the parks while avoiding swarms of bees. Do this and you win!" Zack Zwiezen said to KOTAKU.
If we think about where its name comes from, we could probably say that it was to honor a known and difficult trick that is doing two spins around and over the gap while the skater is falling inside the ramp and land it.
Atari Games was the Arcade Games producer, starting in the 80s it collapsed losing more than $500 million, but its arcade coin-op division helped Atari to get up going again to then sell the brand, with to begin with, a new line of videogames where 720° was a part.
Atari Games got its new owner Midway Games West in 1999 but in 2009 Arcade returned to Warner Bros, its previous owner.
After 720° there was a new version by the same producer called Skate Rock, however, first out was 720°. Likewise, they were another skate version, for example, 'Skate or Die' (1987), this one was available for console but the interface looked like the machine.
In addition, the videogame company called Electronic Arts founded by apple who in 1987 launched "Skate or Die", it was available for computer and console. Definitely, the game that inspired it was 720°.
That's why 720° was named the first skateboard game in the world, it was a really nice way to promote skateboarding and have made a positive impact on kids, and influenced them to skate.
Could The Game's Concept Be Adapted to Present Day?
Even though this game was making history, it wasn't any good compared to quality today and it's plot, of course for its producer technology was limited and to renew the videogame, it will have to adapt to todays standards.
However, 720° couldn't do it and died at the end of the 90s, the same period when Tony Hawk Pro Skater was releasing its first version. Even so, the game gave a fight until the last second, but it didn't last longer than that, it was born to be a pioneer.
The game was moved from the machine to make it available on a computer, but the quality didn't transmute, " It’s hard to translate that spinning arcade stick to a small d-pad, not to mention the massive decrease in graphics resolution (512x384 to 160x144!) made everything hard to interpret," the journalist said in his article at KOTAKU.
In a videogame, everything counts and more now than ever, because there is a lot of development in the videogames programming besides the resolution, like playable devices and music.
Videogames have become so popular since their beginnings, but there were many opponents in society due to the "waste of time" idea of kids playing. There wasn't a future for those who were really good.
Nowadays one of the biggest industries in the whole world are the videogame companies and thanks to the web people can connect together to play games without borders or interruptions, people are constantly looking to videogames for entertainment.
In the case of skateboarding, videogames gave us the industry we have right now, and it's been a huge influence in inspiring new generations to start skating. People learned what tricks were named, they had fun at home while it was raining and even better, the gamers visualized the tricks to help land them.
Read also: Rodney Mullen Reacts to the New THPS 1+2