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Systems: Joystick Skateboarding Simulator

Updated: May 11, 2023

Download the system here (Windows, played with Xbox controller only).


Using the free-movement of the joysticks in lieu of feet, I intend to create a skateboarding experience that is an accurate portrayal of the movements needed to complete tricks to help people learn the motions for skateboarding, which takes practice and is rewarding when landed successfully.

Research History and Thesis

I am trying to create an accurate skateboarding trick simulator that will help people to learn how to execute various tricks. Although it is in a digital space and using a controller, people will learn the correct motions and feel as if they are completing the tricks. One of the most difficult parts of skateboarding is knowing how to move your feet to get the board to do different flips and spins. From this simulator, I hope to get people to understand the motions needed and be able to translate it into real life actions.

I started by looking at skateboarding video games and the different ways that the game accomplished the controls for the tricks. The series that best attained the experience of real-life skateboarding was EA’s Skate series with the Flickit controls. This system used one joystick to complete all of the tricks. It also uses the other buttons for grabs, crouching, and getting on and off the board. While the Flickit system helped to solidify Skate’s reputation in the action sports genre, it focused on a complete skating experience with exploring the city, setting up spots, and creating skate videos. The Flickit controls created one of the accurate controller-based skateboarding experiences, but yet still does not perfectly simulate the motions needed to complete the tricks in real life.

Next, I researched skate tricks and the motions needed to complete them. I wanted to start with basic tricks and work on getting those to feel smooth and realistic. From there, I worked to figure out how to translate the actions into a top-down digital space. I mapped a controller and how the player would have to move the joysticks based on the motions of a skater’s feet. I chose 4 basic tricks--ollie, pop shuvit, kickflip, and heelflip.

Finally, I wanted to confirm that learning a skill in a digital space can be translated to learning a skill in a physical space. I researched the link between video games and learning. Through this I came across a study about visuospatial skills in video games and how they are tied to the same skill in real life domains. Visuospatial processing is the ability to be able to tell where objects are in space, including your body. By enhancing this skill through video games, people will be more aware of where their feet are and the motions that they make, thus in turn, enhancing their skateboarding ability.

Description of Mechanics

The trick simulator focuses on executing certain tricks on a skateboard to teach the necessary motions to complete the trick in real life. The player must first start all tricks by ollieing. From there, the player can aim the proper joysticks to perform a trick. If completed properly, the trick directions will highlight and the proper board animation will commence, showing the player that they completed the trick.

Post Mortem

The system succeeded in creating a skateboarding simulator. The simulator was designed to create an accurate-to-life digital skateboarding system that could help players learn how to perform tricks in the real world. While only 28.6% of players had skateboarded before, the same percentage thought that the skills learned in the simulator could be transferable to complete the tricks in real life.

Although most players did not consider the simulator as a helpful tool to be able to perform the tricks in real life, testers did feel more confident in the knowledge of how to complete the tricks. The simulator required players to ollie before they could perform any flatground tricks, just like in real life. After ollieing, players could then move the joysticks in a certain pattern to execute different tricks. If the left joystick is flicked down to the bottom left, for example, the player would perform a kickflip. With 85.7% of players saying that they felt more confident of the knowledge of how to complete the tricks, the simulator was successful in helping players learn the motions--if not exactly transferable to the feet. Additionally, 100% of testers responded that it felt like they were actually doing tricks on a skateboard. Even though the tricks may not have provided a completely accurate and real life experience, all players felt as though they were actually on a skateboard performing the tricks. Players described the experience as being more “visceral than other [skating game] examples” and “much better...very close to flawless.”

While the system can be improved upon to create a more accurate and realistic experience, the system fulfilled the intent of creating a realistic feeling skateboarding simulator.






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