Friday, June 6, 2014

Virtual Skateboarding: Boom Or Bust?

The nine-year-old has been playing the video game Skate 3. In the game the player creates an avatar (above) and then skates a variety of urban landscapes.

The music is edgy and the scenery -- irrigation canals, skateboard parks, dams, gigantic ramps -- is tremendous. The game reminds me of idle thoughts when viewing diverse urban landscapes, when my mind imagines cruising down a roof or bridge on a skateboard.

The moves the player has the avatar execute are actual skateboard moves, but perhaps those that are done only by professionals a few feet off the ground. This game isn't inconveniently tied to reality.

The avatars don't wear helmets, which is distressing as a parent, and when they crash there is no repercussions besides an ugly sound effect.

This is the game that inspired my son to actually want to start skateboarding in the meatspace of Portland. For that I should be happy.

Yet I have this nagging fear that the frictionless ease in which his avatar cruises through a litany of expert moves on ramps hundreds of feet high will only lead him to lose his patience with actual skateboarding quicker.

Plus, should I be worried that the above image is his painstakingly crafted avatar? At least the avatar's hair is (permanently) out of his eyes.

So far I'm happy the kid has a new interest (skateboarding in reality) and if he wants a purple Mohawk I say yes, as long as it fits under his helmet.


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