When I first saw the pilot for Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), the newest in a series of video games endorsed by the Birdman himself, I was enraged.
“Play as yourself, and not a pro skater, and make your way through a plot-twisting, true-to-life story that takes you from unknown local skate punk to fame and fortune as a superstar skater,” Activision’s Web site says.
In the video game, a player can create a skateboarder and go through a series of trials to eventually become a professional.
As a dedicated skateboarder, the entire concept of the game got me fuming.
I resent the fact that the game is called “THUG” for short.
As an intentional abbreviation set forth by the makers of the game, this implies a negative stereotype about skateboarders.
The reality is that only a small number of skateboarders are people what the general population would consider thugs.
Most skateboarders live “normal” lives and enjoy their sport as much as many others enjoy football, baseball or basketball.
The point of the video game is to get a sponsorship and to eventually become a professional. All of my frustrations with this aspect of the game boil down to one thing: That shouldn’t be what skateboarding is all about.
Skateboarding, just like every other sport on the planet, isn’t about getting good and becoming a professional.
Some people go pro and some don’t — that’s just a fact of life.
But, if a person really enjoys a sport and participates in it as often as he or she can (regardless of whether money is involved), then that person can really understand what the activity is about.
The main concern with the game is if young children interpret it as fact. They might view it with the understanding that if someone can’t become a professional, he or she shouldn’t participate in the sport at all.
When people do something they really enjoy, it shouldn’t matter whether they are the best at what they are doing.
It shouldn’t even matter whether they’re good at it, as long as they’re having fun.
It’s only near the end of the game that a player realizes that the creators knew what was really important after all.
An unexpected twist in the game’s storyline reinforces the position set forth in my analysis of the game, addressing my initial concerns and offering an alternative to the world of skateboarding superstardom.
The game doesn’t end after the player becomes a professional.
THUG provides a glimpse into the downside of the skateboarding world, demonstrating an important lesson that children and adults should never forget.
It teaches that the fame and glory of being a professional athlete is not everything it is made out to be.
Though the THUG connotation is highly unnecessary, the game’s storyline is full of twists and turns set forth by the creators of the game.
They show players why skateboarding isn’t about how much money their characters can make in the end.
While a video game could never be as great as the real thing for a skateboarder, Tony Hawk’s Underground is addictive and has much more to offer players than its seemingly shallow storyline ever could.
The makers of the game hit the target when they created a game that allowed players to see both the positives and the negatives of the skateboarding world.
Whitney Meers is a staff writer for scene. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.