Tony Hawk has just unleashed an HD remake of the best levels from his original games in developer Robomodo’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Birdman still skates – he’s currently on tour – but he also logs a lot of hours playing games. Hawk talks about gaming in this Prima exclusive interview.

How have you seen the gaming industry grown since you first launched Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater?

The game industry itself was pretty big, but it still felt like it was an underground movement when we first launched our game in ’99. I saw not long after that the gaming industry became bigger than the movie industry. The budgets were huge and the events were huge and the games were blockbusters, literally. I guess I’ve seen the acceptance grow so much that full-grown adults, who have responsibilities and children, play video games in their spare time.

What did you learn over the years from game development that you’re applying to Pro Skater HD?

The fact that the familiarity that people have with our games and our control scheme is something they haven’t lost touch with. When they see how we’ve brought this into the new consoles and new technology and the high-res graphics and motion they will have a sense of nostalgia. But at the same time, they have excitement because it is new and it is fresh. I’ve seen how people just pick it up and they instantly know the control scheme, but they are blown away by the graphics.

What was it that inspired you to go back to these original games after doing the skateboarding controller games in recent years?

It was really the fans asking for it for the last few years. There were many ways that we could have done that, but we felt like to only make it available for digital content for download only is probably the best because then we can set a foundation that we can build upon. We can actually sell or make available new content in terms of tricks, skaters, levels and keep expanding on this idea.

Can you talk about what excites you about the game industry as it is today?

It’s just limitless. The technology keeps evolving and the way that you play video games keeps evolving, keeps changing. It lends itself greatly to a sport like skateboarding because skateboarding is really an open-ended sport. I consider it more of an art form. There are so many ways to be creative in it and that lends itself to video games because not only can you compete in it, but you can also have your own style in it and make it your own art.

Where do you see skateboarding games going moving forward?

Skateboarding will always be a steady genre of video games. We’ve seen it transcend not just the console games, but also the touch pad games as well. There’s still a desire for it, for sure, and amidst all the success of first-person shooters, people want to come back to this type of game where it is not just challenges and fighting, but it’s actually creativity. I’m hoping that we can bring it back.

What do you feel Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move can bring to skateboarding games?

There’s a lot of potential to do motion control games, especially with skateboarding. We found also with just the release of Ride that not everyone wants to get up and be active, even if we encourage them. If we were to do a game that had motion controls, we would have to make it available to also do joystick controls so you’ve got the option of one or the other. I don’t think anyone’s been able to do that properly yet.

What advice would you give to someone who’s downloading your new game?

If you haven’t played the series before learn how to manual, that’s the only way you are going to link tricks together. If you have played it before, take advantage of the generous physics.