GRINDING THE WORLD
The great thing about the Tony Hawk skateboard games—and this is pretty much true of every great game—is that when you’re finished playing them, the experience is so compelling, you see the real world for a time through the scrim of the gameplay. Spend a few hours pulling stunts in digital Tony Hawk land, step away from the Playstation, and for awhile there, the whole world outside looks like a skatepark, with every banister and railing a potential place to grind on, every sloping wall and street ramp your own private Ollie launchpad.I thought about this after bumping into the latest Jack Digeridoo joint, a superhip, intermittently dreamy skateboard video scored to Beastie Boys and Folk Implosion, featuring sweet grinds from rooftops of shopping malls, and high Ollies off the glass atrium in the Welcome area.
Damn, I realized, these kids have turned a whole MMO into a skatepark.
Her friend Nucleus Baron put together the eight custom animations she’d embed in her deck-- Ollie jump, handstand, and so on-- while she scripted a skateboard with five speed settings. At minimum, the end product is a fun, speedy way of getting around in-world at ground level—faster than running, without the vision limitations that come from getting inside a closed vehicle. (Tripper Tapioca once rode one of her own boards from Hikuelo to Luna on a single trip, something like the SL equivalent of skateboarding from Chicago to Venice Beach.)
But the real challenge is using the momentum and the ingrained physics of your avatar, to get extreme on the environment. When I watched Jack’s video, I assumed the precarious stunts in them were automated. Not so, says Tripper, who explains the method behind her wheels to me from on top of the Eiffel Tower aerodrome in Gray. (Because after all, if you can Ollie from anywhere, why settle for a shopping mall, when you can do it from a rusty air platform that’s 500 meters off the ground?)
“It’s not automatic, that wouldn’t be very fun to me,” she says. Tripper’s a thin brunette sporting a punk T-shirt and a Che Guevara silhouette on the back of her board. “So it’s all basically skill… like ‘Tony Hawk Underground’ in SL.”
For now, though, they’ll have to settle with the entire grid as their playground. For that, Tripper recommends confidence.
“If you think you can’t make the jump midway,” she advises, grinning, “you miss and fall."