Tony Hawk on Proving Ground

We grab the man himself for a chat.

Would you believe that Tony Hawk will be 40 years old next year? You wouldn't if you'd seen his performance at this year's Leipzig Games Convention, where he wowed the crowd with some of his bestest skateboarding stunts and didn't look like he was getting on a bit at all.

Hawk was on hand to promote Proving Ground, the ninth (would you believe it's only the ninth?) instalment in the series, and Eurogamer got the chance to catch up with him in between performances. Read on to find out what Hawk reckons of his latest game, his advice for budding skateboarders and why there are no hairs on his shin.

Eurogamer: Which feature of Tony Hawk's Proving Ground are you most excited about, Tony Hawk?

Tony Hawk: I'm really excited about our Nail the Grab feature. I'm more of a ramp skater and that's something I'm used to doing, grabbing my board in the air. We expand on Nail the Trick and you can control the grab with the two analogue sticks on each hand. Then we also have Nail the Manual, which goes even further. The basis of the game itself is to create your own style of skating, to find your own path. We have three different main characters to help you. One is the competitive skater, the guy that's on TV, that's on X Games, that's in magazines, making a career out of it. The other one is an underground skater, more of a street guy who's doing it because he loves it. The third is a rigger, a guy who creates his own skate spots out of seemingly nothing. You can take different elements from each of those characters, create your own skater and find your own path to finish the game.

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Eurogamer: How much involvement do you have with the development of the games?

Tony Hawk: I'm there from the start, making suggestions, playing it all along, trying to figure out the best tricks to include, skaters, locations, challenges... Really, my main job is to keep it authentic.

Eurogamer: When you play a Tony Hawk game do you play as yourself, or do you prefer to choose other characters?

Tony Hawk: When we finally release the game I play it through so depending on which characters are available in the beginning, that's who I'll play. In Proving Ground, the idea is that you're the star so there are more generic characters to choose from. But inevitably I will unlock my character and play him, and assign him tricks I can't do in real life, so I can watch myself do these tricks I could never ever do.

Eurogamer: What's your favourite Tony Hawk game of all time?

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Tony Hawk: I don't really have a favourite game because I feel like we improve on it each time. Like with our new one, we've taken all the best elements of previous games and expanded on them. If I had to pick one it would be the very first one, because that's what got us here.

Eurogamer: What other videogames do you play?

Tony Hawk: I play a lot of games with my kids, so whatever they're into at the time. My middle son is heavily into Guitar Hero, he loves it and so he gets me playing it. He actually beats me on a lot of songs, which is frustrating. They like playing a lot of Wii games, they like Transformers, and my game - they love it.

Eurogamer: Have you seen much of Wii Fit? Do you think a Tony Hawk game would work well with the Wii Fit board?

Tony Hawk: I've seen a little bit of it. I think it's possible to incorporate the Wii Fit board into one of our games, but it would change the control scheme dramatically and we'd have to figure out how to make that work. So I don't know yet.

Eurogamer: What advice would you give to people who have played your games and are considering taking up skateboarding in real life?

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Tony Hawk: My advice is to take it slow. The things you do in the game seem easy and safe; in real life it takes a lot of practice and a lot of confidence and a lot of trying. So you've got to be ready to persevere.

Eurogamer: You made your name with the 900 degree trick. What's do you reckon is the next milestone for skateboarding?

Tony Hawk: I'd hate to say there's one milestone. There have been plenty of tricks invented since I did 900, in fact some of them I did myself. They may be a little too technical for the general public to understand, but they're definitely milestones in their own right. For the next spinning move, it would be a 1080. I don't want to try it, but I think Shaun White could probably do it.

Eurogamer: What's the most hardcore injury you've ever sustained?

Tony Hawk: My worst injury was about four years ago. I broke my pelvis. That was the hardest injury for me to recover from, it took me a long time to get my body moving the way I was used to. I still feel the effects of it, to be honest.

Eurogamer: Did you find it knocked your confidence?

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Tony Hawk: I don't think it altered my confidence so much as it was the realisation it would take a lot of work to get back. I've had other injuries, I've broken my elbow and I've done pretty serious things to my body, but I've always been able to push through them in a couple of months. This one was such a long recovery process; I had to relearn some of my tricks in ways I wasn't used to doing them, just so my body would work.

Eurogamer: Do you have a favourite scar?

Tony Hawk: I don't have a favourite scar... My shin is sort of a collection of scars over the years so I guess if anything, that would be the one.

At this point Tony rolled up his trouser leg to show us his scars - take a look for yourself in Episode 17 of the Eurogamer TV Show. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground is out on November 2nd for DS, PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360.

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