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Ex 2C: Beyond the Review (Final)

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS)

“I can’t believe I was once obsessed with beating this game!” Those were the thoughts I had the other night when I popped Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) into my Playstation hoping that playing it would muster a feeling of nostalgia from my teen years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. What blossomed was not exactly nostalgia, but closer to a heaping helping of disappointment topped off with a cherry of utter offensiveness. Two particular questions came to mind. How could I have wasted money on this game series, and why did I ever support such a blatantly sexist game?

For a total of fours years I had squandered my Christmas and Birthday money on buying the latest versions of THPS. I used to play them non-stop, but now after completing only the first three skate parks I felt completely disgusted. I wasn’t mad at the game for being bad or outdated, it was more a self-reflection. I couldn’t believe that I never picked up on it before; this game was totally sexist and I had spent $160.00 supporting the ideals that it represented. I can recognize this now that I am older, but at the time I was naive and can honestly say I had no idea.

Character representation and sexual innuendo in this game are it’s biggest issues regarding sexism. Out of the twelve players available in the game there are only two women, and they are the complete antithesis of one another. They fill the most stereotypical roles that you would associate with woman and are so far from one another on the spectrum that it isn’t even realistic. There is professional skater, Elissa Steamer, a scraggly haired tom-boy dressed in a t-shirt, baggy jeans and skate shoes and then there is Private Carrera, the tight shirt, mini-skirt wearing sex-pot that can be unlocked by beating the game with the character Officer Dick. The character name Office Dick alone is enough for you to realize something isn’t right here.

Besides the representation of the female gender in the game, there are obvious connotations associated with Private Carrera’s character that link her to being a loose or promiscuous woman and also link her to the male member. All of her skateboards that you can choose from have sexual names which include She Got Pop, Skate Hard, Erector Set, Viagra Falls, Manhandler, Feelin’ Blue, New Member, and Solid Wood.

I reflected on the game one more time before I came to my conclusions of why I didn’t like it anymore. Sure, I had grokked the game and mastered the first three versions through and through, but that was the least of my personal concerns. I think that the biggest issue here was the fact that I wasn’t a fourteen year old playing this game anymore, I was twenty year old college sophomore that had different beliefs than I used to have. The things that I thought were fun before aren’t necessarily fun to me now. This game’s age label which reads “ TEEN” clearly defines that this is not a game for anyone out of puberty.

I’ve come to the conclusion that now I crave a different type of game and a different feeling from playing than I used to. In the end, what exactly was I accomplishing by being all I can be in regard to a video game that didn’t even represent me? They are mere tools for relative entertainment, not some holy quest that needs to consume our lives. So every now and then I plan on picking up a game and playing it, but not letting it play me. I want to support something that I believe in rather than what I don’t. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) is going onto the retirement shelf in my house until further notice.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 8, 2006 5:06 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Hayward - Video Game Aesthetics.

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