Skateboarding is cool. Some of the stuff done looks impossible and it feels pretty fun. Eventually, we had the technology to replicate the actions of skateboarders and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was born. Starting in 1999 various publishers have been creating games so that even the uncoordinated can enjoy the thrill of skateboarding. It does seem like they play a little fast and loose with the rules of society in some of these games. Today I’m going to examine some moments from the Tony Hawk series.

We have all seen signs in real life that tell you that you are not allowed to skateboard or rollerblade and the like in certain areas. This is pretty straightforward. Skateboarding can cause damage when you grind on property or from sliding around. In the game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 you do a mission where you have to warn skateboarders that the security guard is coming around to catch people skating where they aren’t supposed to be. You do this by skating to the skateboarders faster than the security guard can run to them and then telling them that they should get out of there, essentially just doing the security guard’s job for him. I mean, no one is reprimanded, but the goal of security is still accomplished. In Tony Hawk’s Underground you are skating on top of a hotel in Hawaii when I guess they call the cops for your trespassing, because all of a sudden a police whirlybird shows up. There are no police on the ground and no police cars. You politely do a sick trick over the helicopter, record it for your demo tape, and then flee the police and head to Vancouver. So trespassing is definitely still a law, and people are allowed to ask that other people not skate on their property. This is pretty straightforward, though the police act in a baffling manner in this world.

Skating over a chopper
Skating over a chopper

Speaking of doing someone’s job for them, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is filled with you doing work for people instead of them doing their job. Zookeepers, construction workers, pizza delivery men, and many others task you with going around town and delivering their goods or fetching things for them. Everyone pays you $250 after you have finished their job for them. You’re basically being subcontracted by an employee that should not have the autonomy to request that of you. And I’m pretty sure the pizza delivery guy loses out on a bunch of money by paying you to deliver four or five pizzas. It is possible that employers are reimbursing their employees for using you. This whole society operates on the idea that it is perfectly fine to ask people skateboarding around town to do their job for them. I’m assuming the skateboarder reports all of these odd jobs on his income tax, because this is all cash that we are dealing with. An extra wrinkle is that while places can request that skateboarders not skate on their property, the zoo is perfectly fine with you skateboarding all around it. At one point a zookeeper has you skate from one gate to another to alert security that a monkey is loose. These gatekeepers have to be told because then they know to not let the monkey out of the park. This isn’t one of those monkeys that is in the work-release program and heads out every day and returns to the zoo each night. This is one of the monkeys that have to stay in the zoo all day. A final confusing abuse of the employer-employee relationship is that one of the guys that control a drawbridge decides to bring the bridge up, not because ships are flowing down the river, but because he wants to see if you can do tricks across the gap. The cavalier attitude that almost every employee in this game has leads me to one conclusion.

In the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater universe employees have a lot more protection in their job security, a ludicrously high amount. In America our default rule is employment at will. Employees can be fired for no cause, good cause, and bad cause, as long as the employer doesn’t break the law while doing so. Employees can also leave whenever they want. Employees in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 abandon their job duties, charge their company to make a skateboarder to their job, and stop working to watch skateboarders. I get it, some of the stuff the skateboarder does is really cool, but I wouldn’t risk my job just to watch them. These employees are just not scared of losing their jobs. I’m imagining that in a universe created by Tony Hawk the default employer-employee relationship has a clause in the contract that states “Employees may only be fired for good cause. Good cause does not include anything skateboard related by either the employee or a third party that they interact with.” Skateboarders are a protected class because they are cool and everyone should have the opportunity to hang out with them and check out their kick flips. That’s Tony Hawk’s world.

He's fine
He’s fine

Though skateboarders are held as possibly the most important citizens in Tony Hawk’s society, there are some rules they still have to follow. Often in Tony Hawk games you undertake missions where you are tasked with destroying property. This is never stated to be a good thing, and most of the times when someone asks you to do it they are getting revenge or lashing out at someone. It never feels like you’re doing something on the up and up. An extreme example of this is in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (again) when Bam Margera asks you to knock thirty tourists into the water surrounding Alcatraz. There are two ways to look at this. One possibility is that this is all perfectly legal. Cars can run into you and there is never any confrontation. The car drives on and you skate away. It is possible that our old favorite battery is nonexistent in this world. The other possibility is that you are not allowed to hurt people, just like you cannot damage property, but you’re too fast to be caught on your skateboard. You simply escape police searches. I’m going to pick that option because it feels a little better somehow.

At the end here I just want to highlight a beautiful moment in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. I’m not sure if there are legal ramifications other than your damaging property again, which I’ve stated is still not allowed in this universe. At one point you see a man working on a dock. The dock breaks and the man is hanging from the sign he was fixing. Then a massive shark jumps up toward the man. If the man drops from the sign he will be eaten by this shark. You skate at a statue of a globe and break it so it rolls down the dock, smacks the shark in the face, and teaches the shark that land is for humans and water is for sharks. You’ve saved this man’s life, and you are given the appropriate $250 just like you did for delivering some pizzas. Just doing your duty to society as a skateboarder.


Thanks for looking at the beautiful Tony Hawk universe with me. In it we have stumbled into an employee’s utopia where owning a business doesn’t quite seem worth it. Luckily, it seems that property damage and attacking people is still illegal. Also, somehow, though skateboarders rule, the car is still the dominant method of operation with no liability for its actions.


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