Danny Way has been progressing skateboarding since he first stepped foot on a plank. So it’s not surprising that he’s pushing the virtual world of skateboarding, too. As Electronic Arts’ lead creative consultant and unofficial TM for their new game Skate, D-Way’s assembled one of the most legit teams in skateboarding ever–for what EA hopes to become skateboarding’s most legit video game ever. I sat down with Danny in San Francisco this week to discuss his involvement with Skate, why it’s poised to topple the Tony Hawk empire, and how he expects to maintain his credibility throughout the process. Game is definitely on.–Carleton Curtis
Every pro in the game has said you were the person who approached them about being in it. How did you become the ringleader?
Two years ago, EA was trying to seek me out for a game and ironically, I was also trying to look for somebody to do a video game project with. My manager and I wanted to put together a true skateboarding game versus some of the other stuff that’s out there. You know, as far as representing skateboarding accurately.
What made you trust EA?
I met EA’s Jay Balmer, Chris Perry and Scott Blackwood–they’re the main guys who put Skate together. They just sat back and listened to me for a while, and Jay and Chris have really heavy roots in skateboarding having lived in the Vancouver scene for the last 20 years. So early on, I wanted to find people who would respect where I was coming from. When I started explaining what my perception of what a skateboarding game should be, their vision really ended up aligning with mine–a game that was more realistic and not so exaggerated. I wanted those people out there who don’t skate at all to be motivated to see what an accurate portrayal of skateboarding would be like.
Because it’s designed to be more real, it’s obviously gonna be harder to learn than the Tony Hawk games. Do you think that’s going to make skate less fun? Especially for those people who don’t skateboard?
I don’t really play Tony’s games, so I don’t know the extent of the maneuvers. I did play it a long time ago, and (the playability) was just remembering which buttons to push. This game has a lot more to do with the physics and motion of skateboarding. So if you skate or not, everyone is still going to have to get used to the controls. But the motion and feel of the game will educate non-skaters how the physics of skateboarding works.
Did EA propose any ideas for the game that you immediately shot down?
Believe it or not, from day one, we all had the same vision was and the developers stuck to every aspect of it. There hasn’t been one thing where I said, “That’s unrealistic or “That’s not cool.
What about the spots. Are there any dead spots like EMB that will be in the game? Or newer spots like the mega ramp?
The mega ramp’s in the game, but as far the street spots, Tony pretty much covered everything in his games. The whole concept of this game is to do something completely different than what’s been done before. Instead of replicating old spots, EA designed a completely new city called San Vanelona which has tons of new spots. Why do something that’s already been done before, you know?
The team you assembled for Skate is pretty incredible. How’d you manage to pull that off?
Well, that was part of my contribution to the game–going out and luring a top-name team. Everyone on the team hasn’t let me down at all. They all came through with their promises too. They’re all blown away and exited by skate’s level of quality.
What it difficult convincing anyone in particular to be in the game?
Not really. Most people knew who EA was, and that right there made them confident. And when they heard the plan behind the game, that pretty much ssealed the deal.
Because you have so much authority over the game, what was the biggest personal stamp you wanted put on it?
My credibility is tremendously on the line, especially because I helped put so many big-name riders in the game and I promised them a game that represents real skateboarding. I would feel pretty guilty if sh-t didn’t work out correctly. Well, not guilty, but I’d feel like a real a–hole.