A skateboard is a wooden plank with four wheels affixed on the underside. The practice of skateboarding began in the 1970's in California, innovated by youths who grew up surfing. The board, or "deck," is large enough to accommodate one rider standing on his feet. The board is propelled forward by a backwards kick from the rider against the ground, or the rider may take the skateboard down a hill. Other more unorthodox methods of propulsion have been used, such as being towed by an animal, bicycle, or car, or special skateboards that employ gasoline or electric engines. There are few restrictions on what materials can go into the construction of a skateboard's deck, wheels, and axles (referred to as the "trucks.") Some specialized boards feature oversized rubber wheels for use on sand, or an array of wheels in a semicircular configuration, intended to reproduce the sensation of surfing. Besides a skateboard's use as a means of transportation, skateboard tournaments host experienced skaters who perform tricks inside half-pipes, empty swimming pools, or other structures designed for doing tricks.
Skateboards in Games
Skateboards have long been a popular addition in video games. At the most simple level, they have been used as a powerup
that gives a character a boost in speed, but may force them to continue moving forward as they do in Super Adventure Island
. In The Simpsons
arcade game, Bart Simpson
rides a skateboard and uses it to bash enemies, although this is incidental to his character and does not really differ him from other the characters.
Where skateboards really hit their stride in video games is when skating is the main focus. Skate or Die
are both early games that featured skateboarding tricks and competitions. In 720, the player was able to roam freely around a skate park to do tricks, and had to constantly be wary of environmental hazards. But skateboarding games truly reached the mainstream with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
on the Sony PlayStation
, Nintendo N64
, and Sega Dreamcast
. The game featured complex 3D environments in which to skate. Players were sent on timed runs to chain as many high-scoring tricks as possible, without falling on their faces. Scoring well and completing special objectives granted access to restricted areas of the map, and unlockable
prizes for more character customization. The Tony Hawk
series continued through several successful sequels, adding new elements such as free-roaming environments, level editors, and the ability to change the environment to better suit new tricks. EA
has continued to innovate in the genre by introducing new control mechanics for executing tricks.