Few videogames have proven more seminal and vital to a sport’s growth in mainstream popularity and participation than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The 1999 release and its copious amount of sequels sparked wide interest in the sport, directly influencing a new generation of athletes and fans.
Knowing the series’ legacy, it’s no surprise that its publisher, Activision, is bringing fans back to its nostalgic roots by giving Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 the remaster treatment. But the trip down memory lane isn’t leaving the generations of skaters that grew up with the series. In addition to its original lineup of skaters, a litany of modern skaters will pop manuals alongside the all-time greats.
Notable among the modern-day additions is X-Games gold medalist and Street League Super Crown winner Leo Baker, marking the first inclusion of a non-binary skater in the series’ 20-plus year history. Baker joins Elissa Steamer and Vanessa Torres as the only out LGBTQ skaters to appear in the series.
In addition to maintaining a reputation as one of the best street skaters in the game, Baker has used their platform to advocate for LGBTQ populations within the sport. They’ve regularly pointed out the contradictions between a sport whose culture spawned from counter-culture and its receptiveness to queer, trans and gender non-conforming identities.
“Once I chose to present masculine, after years of conforming to the feminine standards of what’s marketable, my skate career almost evaporated,” Baker said in an interview with Nike.
“Feeling like an outcast in my own subculture is what motivated me to create space and change. The more I grew into my truest self, the less I felt a sense of belonging to the thing I love the most … But there are folks out there just like me who skate, who are womxn, who are queer, whose genders don’t align in the mainstream—these are the people I want to skate with. These are the people I connect with.”
Baker established the NYC Skate Project to accomplish their goal of providing safe spaces and communities for LGBTQ to skate together, and now that push for inclusion is spreading into the most successful skateboard gaming franchise in history.
“We’re proud that the remaster will represent the skate culture landscape today with a diverse roster of skaters that will appeal to any gamer,” said Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Activision Michelle Bresaw.
Prepare to take that all too familiar leap of faith, complete with further LGBTQ inclusion, when the remastered Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store on September 4, 2020.