Chapter 4. "IS TONY HAWK A REAL PERSON?": From motion capture to gaming franchise


Dear Tony,

Your videogame is great, but you should try skateboarding. I mean I know you are good in the game, but you should try it in real life. I bet that you would be pretty good.

In early 1997, I was approached by a software programmer about doing a skateboarding video game for PCs. I'd always been a computer and video game geek, and of course I gravitated toward any digitized version of skating. The first, Atari's 720 Degrees arcade game, came out in 1986, and I was addicted to it. The next year, Electronic Arts brought out Skate or Die! for the Commodore 64, one of the original desktop computers, which finally gave me a chance to play a skateboarding game at home.

It took 10 years for another decent skate game to land: Sega's Top Skater, a huge device available only in arcades. You stood on a skateboard, held on to rails, and controlled the virtual rider with your feet as he sped downhill. It was mostly a racing game, though—not really a skate game. And you needed to pour a long stream of quarters into it.

The programmer who approached me was in the very early stages of creating a software engine for a skateboarding game, and he needed to partner with an established developer. I was pretty sure that with my help we could create something substantial. We took meetings with a few big companies, including Midway and Nintendo, but they were resoundingly discouraging.

An early meeting with Midway was ...

Get How Did I Get Here?: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.