It sounds like heresy to most older folks, this writer included, but for about the past decade, a lot of younger gamers have been discovering punk rock, ska, and classic and indie hip-hop through the Tony Hawk series of skateboarding video games. The idea may be repellent to those of us who relied on reading 'zines and getting mixtapes from our buddies to find new music, but that's the breaks of technology.
Rocks Off can attest ourselves to our own little brother asking us about the Dead Kennedys and Bad Religion after playing the first two editions of Pro Skater. We did feel like we weren't doing our brotherly job of indoctrinating the youth, but it also gave us a chance to shove more punk in his ears.
Today Tony Hawk turns 43 years old, and the legendary pro skater and businessman has done much for his sport and pop culture in general. He helped shed light on the early days of skateboarding, and the more popular he got in the '90s, the more people looked back to the Z-Boys, whose story was in turn made into a documentary and biopic.
The debt that society at large owes to skateboarding is immense, in terms of the artists, filmmakers, musicians, and other creative things that came from kids taking to the streets and pools with boards in hand. So it only stands to reason that the soundtracks to these influential video games would poison young minds as well.
Imagine being a kid with a gaming console in the middle of nowhere without a big city to run to for shows and record shops, and turning on a Tony Hawk game and hearing things like the Violent Femmes, Public Enemy, Nas, and the Adolescents. Say what you will about the evils of corporations and big business, but Tony Hawk was onto something.
The Tony Hawk games are on hold right now due to waning popularity and changes in game play that made them less attractive to gamers. The last one released was 2010's Tony Hawk: Shred.
The game started using a peripheral skateboard-style controller that was an echo of the Guitar Hero line, taking the game play out of your hands and onto your feet. Fans weren't too thrilled, and some asked if it was necessary or just a useless ploy to make gamers spend more money.
We made a playlist of the best 20 songs from the collected soundtracks of the Tony Hawk games, which began production in 1999 with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, way back when the platforms of choice were PlayStation One, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, and N-Gage. What the hell was N-Gage again?