A QUICK TALK WITH THE CREATOR OF SKATEBOARDLE, A SKATE TRIVIA GAME

A month ago we came across Skateboardle, a simple looking website where you can play a fun trivia game. It’s basically like the infamous Wordle that took over group chats and Twitter this year, but with skate videos. Since then it’s impossible to go skating without someone asking you if you played skateboarding that day.

As it turns out, the game was developed by Sean Villars, who is currently the main man running SkateVideoSite. Sean is a programmer by trade and obviously obsessed with skateboarding, so he combined the two for the benefit of all of us. SkateVideoSite is already one of the largest online skateboard databases and now Skateboardle is an integral part of the skate nerd right next to it.

Would you describe yourself as a skate nerd?
Uhhh halfway, yes [laughs]. We always do that thing where you’re at the bar and you hear a song and you’re like, “Who went to this?” I’m sure every skate group does that, so I definitely have a good bank of skate song skills.

I know skate nerds who know way better than me and this is crazy! I have a homie Dylan at the No-Comply Skate Shop who can name every trick that was filmed on Clipper and by whom and what video. I’m not at that level [laughs]. I’m somewhere between the average skater and Dylan.

What was the story behind Skateboardle?
We have a discord with some of us who help at skatevideosite.com and I don’t know how that came about, but we thought, “Wordle for Skateboarding would be tight.” That’s when the idea just clicked. It’s been a few months since the Wordle craze peaked and all the spinoffs happened, but there was still no skateboard craze. So I thought, “Dude, I think I might actually have an idea that maybe no one has done before.”

I don’t really play a lot of mobile games and this is actually the first game I’ve made. I usually build much more boring software. It was all about pairing it with a theme I loved, and I figured other skaters would probably enjoy it. I would say that knowing the audience is definitely a big part of making something fun.

How long did the expansion take? What is behind such a game?
The actual game is pretty simple. The looping logic of the base game on the site probably took me less than two weeks to complete. The big waste of time is video curation. I want to try to keep this game going as long as possible but selecting the video, browsing the videos and selecting the clips takes a lot of time.

For the videos, I find or get a video source file, then I have a program that I run through and it’s pretty crazy that the program can detect scenes and cut the video into clips automatically. So I let it slide and spend about 30 minutes to an hour picking clips for a spin.

Do you do this manually every day or do you queue them up for the week?
A bit of both [laughs]. Sometimes I’ll sit down and do a few and other times I’ll just do one for the day. I have a bit of buffer but not much. I actually have to do something tonight [laughs]. Attaching the Skateboardle clips is always at the top of my to-do list – except for taking care of my kid, of course [laughs].

As a programmer, can’t you automate this part of the process?
Yes, the whole thing, getting the video and cutting it up, it’s basically automated. It’s selecting the specific clips that’s the hard part. I don’t have an exact formula yet. I just went as I feel at the moment because I’m trying to make the first clip kind of difficult. So sometimes it’s a guest clip or a stupid b-roll take. I’m trying to be thoughtful about the clips while also trying to show cool clips from the video.

I could automate it fully and just have it pick literally six random clips, but that might not make a good game, right? Like these damn trans world Videos with all b-rolls, it can maybe select six b-roll clips or something [laughs].

“It’s crazy to think and crazy to say, but there are people who haven’t seen Baker 3.”

How has the reaction to the game been so far?
As far as I can tell, pretty good. I basically just posted it on Slap and Reddit. I’ve had a friend’s test for the past few weeks as before I posted it. They also probably shared it on Instagram or something. It got more popular than I thought just by these two posts. Slap likes this a lot [laughs]. People keep posting their results every day.

I’m not on Twitter but one of my buddies is and he sent me some funny tweets about the game which was cool. It’s funny because I didn’t know skate twitter was a thing until my friend showed me.

Were there any negative comments?
My friend sent me a funny post or two. Maybe it’s an age thing, but some people were upset because they just didn’t really know the videos. I’m 31 so the ones I started with are the ones I grew up with. To me they’re classic and everyone knows them, so maybe the younger people are having a hard time [laughs]. But I’m starting to put some newer videos in there.

But with this critique, I hope that frustration aside, they’ll watch the videos they don’t know. It’s crazy to think and crazy to say, but there are people who haven’t seen it baker 3. I mean shit the video is 15 years old now.

When Wordle showed up, were you playing?
It was not me. I knew what it was, but I just didn’t play it that much. I think I was inspired because I’ve seen all the spinoffs. I actually play it more than Wordle.

I’m playing this game Heartle running Spotify. It’s pretty tough. There’s also a geography course and it’s pretty sick. You try to guess the country from a small map image and it will tell you how far away you were. I like that because I like trying to explore geography.

What is the weirdest version of this game format you can think of that hasn’t been invented yet?
Maybe pictures of fast food and chain restaurants without the packaging or logos, you have to guess where the food is coming from. I definitely know a few homies who could spot Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets from a mile away.

“I definitely know a few homies who can spot Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets from a mile away.”

Can you see the results of everyone’s answers?
Yeah, well I’m at a bit of a sticky point there. I have data on win percentages from all games played. The problem, and this is only a problem with sites in general, is that you don’t need to create an account in order to play. So essentially, you could use a different browser or mess around with your browser cache and wipe all your data and replay.

I want to show the win percentages because I think that would be fun and that’s what people want to see. However, I’m afraid people will start playing around with the numbers because there’s no authentication for how many times you could play it. I saw someone post on Twitter, “How to win: Lose game, get reply, clear cache, play again and win on first try.” At this point, you’re just playing yourself.

The data is fun to look at. I did the first two bag of suck and baker 3 and they had a 95% win rate over 1,500 games. Then came Hollywood action and this one had a win rate of 25% [laughs]. It’s pretty funny to see. I want to share this kind of stuff with everyone who plays, but I’m trying to find the right way to do it.

Are there any videos you know you wouldn’t add?
Not that I wouldn’t mess with them, but I probably won’t be doing any solo parts at the moment. Another video segment I’m not sure about is the indie video era – late 2000s to early 2010s. Like all videos from Arizona. There are so many indie videos that came out at that time and they’re relatively well known, but I still don’t know how people will react to it.

How hard is it to juggle a kid, your job, SkateVideoSite, and Skateboardle?
It’s definitely pulling me in many directions [laughs]. Skating took the brunt of my time that I shaved off. I try to go out and skate at least once a week, that’s my goal [laughs]. Making skatevideosite and Skateboardle is tough because I spend so much time on my computer for work, so when I’m done I’m like, “Fuck, I need to get off this computer.”

At the moment I’m revamping SkateVideoSite to make it look better. I know the UI has never been the best, and I’m not really a front-end person, but I like what I’ve done with Skateboardle’s design and look. I’m trying to make SkateVideoSite look a bit like this so we have a suitable theme. But sometimes I want to play around on SkateVideoSite, but I’m like, “Shit, I gotta spend an hour with Skateboardles,” and I’ve got time for the night. I made it work, but many things pull on me.

So you do SkateVideoSite and Skateboardle voluntarily, right?
Hell yeah, I’ll spend money on it [laughs]. We thought about maybe adding a donate button to SkateVideoSite to fund it. It’s not very expensive every month, but I want to make it a better experience on the other side of the world as well. For example I could see how long it takes to load in Southeast Asia and shit and it’s not that nice. The server is located in New York, so you get the best and fastest experience [laughs]. But stuff costs money and we just want to do more and explore different things that we all want to do. We could add the donate button, but I don’t want people to think we’re trying to make money from it.

If the New York Times tried to buy Skateboardle, would you sell it?
[laughs] Uhh maybe. Depends on price But a funnier scenario would be if Berra ever tried to buy it. If someone from the Berrics tried to buy it, I’d say, “Hell no. No thanks, Berra.” He pasted a “Battle at The Berrics” ad on all three sides.

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