After Japanese skaters winning the SLS and X Games, we're seeing another historic moment. Aori Nishimura, who's been competing in global contests, became the first ever Japanese female skater to be selected as a game character in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.
──AORI NISHIMURA (ENGLISH)
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Photos courtesy of Nike SB Japan, Activision
The first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series was released in the US back in 1999. The first two series became one of the most popular and best-selling video games in the early 2000s. With the success, Tony Hawk built a fortune and was able to retire from professional competitions; it allowed him to concentrate more on hosting large scale skate events and building skate parks in disadvantaged areas.
With that said, the game series inspired a generation of kids to pick up a skateboard. Not only has it made its way into the general public, but it has also helped improve the environment of the skating community. And, notably, the professional skaters in this series have also benefited financially. Koston, Reynolds, Rowley, Steamer... Their life greatly changed for the better. This is one of the great examples where the skate community that had been run solely by skaters benefitting from an outside capital.
The first two series have been remastered and will be re-released as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. With the original vibe of the late 90s and early 00s, it comes back with HD graphics, new tricks and skaters. Aori Nishimura is one of them. She's the only one to be selected from Japan; it's safe to say that this is a historic moment for us. What will this bring to our skate community in Japan? Only time will tell.
VHSMAG (V)： You live in LA now, how's your life over there?
Aori Nishimura (A)： Usually I wake up and go skate at a local skate park in the morning. I skate until around noon and get lunch, then go back to the house. I'd then go back to the skate park with my sisters or go shopping. I skate everyday at skate parks if it's not raining.
V： Who do you mainly skate with?
A： There's no particular skater I skate with in the daily basis. I'd go skate at skate parks and I see a lot of famous pros but it's not like I skate with them. I basically skate with my sisters. We just go hit different skate parks depending on how we feel that day.
V： Japanese skater getting selected in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is a big deal. How do you feel about that?
A： I think it's a great experience for me to be selected as a game character, I just feel happy about it. I knew about the game but I had never played it before. All the people in it are the world's top skaters so having my name up there along with them feel unreal.
V： What was it like when you heard about the news?
A： I think I got a call from my agent and he was like, "You're in Tony Hawk's video game!" I had no idea what he was talking about at first but he explained what a big deal it was. I got blown away.
V： How did your family react?
A： My dad knew the original game so he was hyped. After the news got out there, I got a lot of congratulations calls and messages from friends (laughs).
V： In addition to Elissa Steamer from the original series, there are four female skaters added to the roaster. Do you feel that female skating is getting more attention?
A： I don't really think about it that way, dividing things with gender, but I see a lot of contests and videos with only female skaters so I think it's getting more attention in that sense. I think the scene will grow stronger if more girls get into skating.
V： A lot of Nike SB skaters are in the video game. Who's your favorite?
A： Shane O'Neill. Just seeing him warming up at contests is amazing. Just skating outside the course, all his tricks are perfect and super clean. He lands every trick so I'm looking forward to seeing his character in the video game.
V： What did you do in the process of making the video game?
A： I got inside of a ball-shaped thing with video cameras and light bulbs all around and filmed my whole body and facial expression. It was all so new to me but it was fun seeing the behind the scenes of video game production with the newest technology.
V： What was most challenging?
A： I had to film so many different types of facial expression so that was challenging. I realized it's so hard to express action only with your face. That was all a good experience. It was fun!
V： What do you like about your character?
A： The graphics are so beautiful in this series and they recreated myself exactly as I am. When I first saw the sample, I thought it was a photo of me. It looked so real.
V： Koston, Nyjah, Leticia, Shane... You're out there with your teammates at Nike SB.
A： I haven't played it yet but I'm stoked to play different characters.
V： Japanese skaters are killing it these days. What do you think is that reason for that?
A： I think the fact that Japanese skaters are entering international contests is a big thing. There are a lot of international contests that we can enter now and I think that's changing the skate environment in Japan. Also there are more Japanese skaters who spend time overseas; I think that's a big factor as well.
V： Through this video game, what kind of change are you expecting in Japan?
A： I want a lot of people in Japan to play the game and that it'll be an opportunity for them to get interested in skating more.
V： What's your dream as a skater?
A： I guess my dream is to be a pro skater that people approve. I want to have a signature board with my name on it one day.
Born in 2001, originally from Tokyo and currently resides in Los Angeles. She's known for being one of the Japanese stars in the international competition circuit, winning the Street League and X Games.