Flushing Meadows goes virtual for skating game

A new video game gives players the chance to skateboard in a virtual version of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Image courtesy EA Games
By Shira Frager

Young skaters now have the option of showing off their talent in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in a new state-of-the art facility — or as virtual professionals in the privacy of their own living rooms.

The city opened a skate facility two weeks ago in the park with spots for skaters to ollie, grind and do other tricks. At the same time, the makers of the video game “Skate 3” released a special downloadable level that allows fans to have fun skating at a virtual recreation of the skate park without breaking a sweat or bone.

Electronic Arts, a California video game company, created the game to give skateboard lovers the opportunity to participate in the “Maloof Money Cup” competition, the first event to use the new skate park.

“We released it to coincide with the event that happened last weekend, which was the unveiling of the park,” said Chris Parry, producer of “Skate 3.”

The game for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 gaming systems enables skaters to create their own parks, skate with friends and look like an expert while doing a 360-degree heel-flip and other tricks.

Skaters can also tape their skating performances to post online and have their friends vote for the best ones. As skaters perform challenges throughout the various levels, they build up a virtual reputation for their in-game alter egos.

“You can create your own teams and work your way through the ranks. This mimics skate culture,” said EA Director Peter Nguyen.

EA representative and lifelong skateboarder Dana Sissons said the game features Queens because of the popular skateboarding competition that took place June 5-6. Players can skate within the park’s boundaries, including the Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion.

The level’s release came on the heels of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Skate Park opening about three weeks ago. Sitting on the footprint of the Astral Fountain originally constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair, the skate park adds a new dimension to Flushing Meadows, according to city Parks Department officials.

“It’s already the home of the world,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement. “Making world-class skateboarding part of it all is tremendous.”

Joe and Gavin Maloof, whose family owns the Sacramento Kings NBA team, established the skateboarding tournament in California three years ago. Joe Maloof noted that New York was the headquarters for skateboarding on the East Coast and was first on his list of expansion markets for the competition.

“The skateboarding community is really phenomenal in how open and inclusive they are of everyone,” he said in a statement.

The Maloofs funded $1.15 million for the park through the “Adopt-a-Park” program through which small businesses, communities and individuals provide financial support for maintenance of the facility. They will provide an additional $225,000 for the park over the next three years, according to the Parks Department.

EA, which worked with Maloof to create the level, noted that enthusiasts can show off their moves within the virtual Flushing Meadows while saving themselves the potential risks involved in skateboarding.

“As a player, you get the experience of skating in the contest with pros and fans,” said Sissons.

Maloof competitors were shown the virtual version of the game during the tournament, allowing them to visualize the terrain before they competed, according to Sissons.

Though professional skaters and gamers may lead different lives, “Skate 3” provides a common ground for all boarders.

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