- As ’80s big-air skating withered and toughened into the spiked righteousness of street skating, though, skate video games became relics of the past. It wasn’t until skating and Tony Hawk himself reached a perfect moment at the end of the following decade—when skating felt perfectly balanced between counterculture cool and mainstream ubiquity—that skate games returned. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater wasn’t just a skate game when it came out 20 years ago Saturday. It was a phenomenon, a work that, as Hawk himself explains, simultaneously ignited his career and overshadowed it.
And it happened almost entirely by accident. Both the game’s creators at the now-defunct studio Neversoft and its producers at Activision knew when they started making Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that they were producing something magical, infused with the same soul as the culture fueling it. They got there only by almost going broke and trying to fix a wreck of a Bruce Willis game first.