In the latest in a series of Gamasutra-exclusive bonus material originally to be included in Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton's new book Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time
, the duo presents a history of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
, the game that popularized a niche genre and sparked a host of imitators in the late early part of this decade.
According to the duo, the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
in 1999 ramped the extreme sports genre to superstar status, but nearly every genre has its predecessors:
"Games like 720 Degrees [pictured], a 1986 arcade skateboarding game from Atari, and Skate or Die!, a 1987 multiplatform home release from Electronic Arts, made scores of gamers happy, but it was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater that would take the genre successfully into the realm of 3D, offering unparalleled levels of control and fluid motion so critical to such games, in turn spawning a whole slew of me-too products that wanted to outperform and be more extreme than skateboarding icon Tony Hawk himself."
Sports titles aren't limited to skateboarding, though -- a variety of sporting activities are at home in the world of video games:
"From the early Olympic sports videogames, culminating with Epyx's multiplatform California Games (1987), which featured skateboarding, freestyle footbag, surfing, roller skating, flying disc, and BMX minigames, to the classic NBA Jam (1993) and NFL Blitz (1997) series of highly stylized and simplified arcade sports videogames, there has been no shortage of compelling, action-packed alternatives to traditional sports gaming."
But what Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
added, say Barton and Loguidice, was a level of realism that rejected the over-the-top antics of the excessively competition-fueled nature of prior games:
"By making it about technique over style, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater expanded its audience to far more players than any other game of its type before."
You can now read the full franchise history
in today's Gamasutra feature (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).