Released back in 04: Tony Hawks Underground 2. I’m pretty sure I wore the laser lens off my PlayStation 2 with this one.
The Tony Hawk franchise boast some of the most iconic games, but today we’ll be focusing on THUG2. I will be proposing an analytical framework to examine this game text and an online project to accompany it.
So, how would I begin to analyse this media’s text?
First, I would look at the ecology of this game, identifying: Hardware; Software; Game Content; Promotional Strategies; and Cultural Capital. Although THUG2 was categorised as “sports”, it was a very unconventional release for the genre, surrounded by the empire of Electronic Arts that saw the release of Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods, NBA Live and MVP Baseball. This would lead me to explore the developers Neversoft and publishers Activision as they themselves are also unconventional to the genre.
Ultimately, I would play the game, watch walkthroughs and speedruns to start mapping. Analysing THUG2’s narrative and game mechanics, I would frame Tony Hawks Underground as an in-game, nonconforming adventure where players travel the world wreaking havoc.
Researching persona theory, nonconformity and adventure, I would use these topics to create an analytical lens to view the game. Building an ontology map I would include actors such as: Activision; Neversoft; soundtrack artists; Jackass, as its members feature through-out the video game; other genre releases; game ratings and demographics.
For the digital project I would begin a weekly stream on Twitch, exploring each map and discussing interesting facts about the landmarks, celebrities and any other pop culture references in game. As the game has aged now, younger generation would not have experienced these cultural moments. Meaning the streams could also serve as nostalgia or short history lessons depending on the audience.
Fortunately, the Tony Hawk franchise would give me an opportunity to continue this digital project into the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, allowing me to explore an entirely new analytical framework to view the game texts and possibly vary the content on the Twitch streams. Alternatively, the streams could also take a speedrunning direction which is very much relevatnt in 2021.
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