A month ago we stumbled upon 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 been impossible to go out skating without someone asking if you played Skateboardle that day.
As it turns out, the game was created by Sean Villars who’s currently the main dude running SkateVideoSite. Sean is a coder by trade, and obviously obsessed with skateboarding, so he has combined the two for the benefit of all of us. SkateVideoSite is already one of the largest online skateboarding databases, and now Skateboardle is an essential part of skate-nerdom right alongside it.
First off, would you consider yourself a skate nerd?
Uhhh half way, yeah [laughs]. We always do the thing where you’re at the bar and you hear a song and you’re like, “Who skated to this?” I’m sure every skate group does this, so I definitely have a good bank of skate song knowledge.
I know skate nerds who are way more knowledgeable than I am and that’s crazy! I have a homie Dylan at No-Comply Skate Shop who can name every trick that has been filmed on Clipper and by who and what video. I’m not at that level [laughs]. I’m somewhere in between the average skater and Dylan.
What was the story behind Skateboardle?
We have a Discord with bunch of us who help with skatevideosite.com and I don’t know how it got brought up, but we were like, “Wordle for skateboarding would be tight.” Then the idea just clicked. It’s been a few months since the Wordle craze, it peaked and all the spinoffs happened, but there still hadn’t been a skateboard one. So I was like, “Dude I think I might actually have an idea that maybe nobody else has done yet.”
I don’t really play too many mobile games and this is actually the first game I’ve made. Usually, I build a lot more boring software. This was a matter of just combining it with a subject that I loved and I guessed that other skaters would probably get a kick out of it. I would say that knowing the audience is definitely a big part of making something that will be fun.
How long did it take to build out? What goes into making a game like this?
The actual game is pretty simple. The base game loop logic on the site probably took me less than two weeks to do. The big time sink is video curation. I want to try to have this game going for as long as I can but picking the video, sifting through them, then picking the clips takes a good chunk of time.
For the videos, I’ll find or obtain some video source file, then I have a program I’ll run it through and it’s pretty crazy the program can detect scenes and it’ll chop the video into clips automatically. So I run it through that and I spend like 30 minutes to an hour picking clips for one round.
Do you manually do that every day or do queue them up for the week?
A little bit of both [laughs]. Sometimes I’ll sit down and crank out a few and sometimes I’ll just do one for the day. I have a little bit of a buffer but not much. I actually have to do some tonight [laughs]. Getting the Skateboardle clips up is always at the top of my to-do list – other than taking care of my kid of course [laughs].
Being a programmer can’t you automate that part of the process?
Yeah, the whole getting the video and chopping it up, that’s basically automated. It’s picking the specific clips which is the hard part. I don’t have an exact formula yet. I’ve just been going with how I feel at the moment because I try to make the first clip kind of difficult. So sometimes it’ll be a guest clip or some stupid b-roll shot. I try to be thoughtful about the clips, while also trying to show off dope clips from the video.
I could totally automate it and just have it literally pick six random clips, but that might not make for a good game, right? Like those damn Transworld videos with all the b-rolls, it can potentially pick six b-roll clips or something [laughs].
“It is crazy to think, and crazy to say, but there are people who haven’t seen Baker 3.”
What has the reaction to the game been so far?
From what I can tell, pretty good. I basically just posted it on Slap and Reddit. I had some friend’s test over the last few weeks, like before I put it out there. They probably shared it on Instagram or some shit too. It got more popular than I thought it would just from those two posts. Slap really likes it [laughs]. People are constantly posting their results every day.
I’m not on Twitter, but one of my buddies is and he sent me a bunch of funny tweets about the game which was cool. It’s funny because I didn’t know that Skate Twitter was a thing until my friend showed me that.
Have there been any negative comments?
My friend sent me one or two funny posts. Maybe it’s an age thing, but some people were mad because they just really didn’t know the videos. I’m 31 so the ones I started with are the ones I grew up watching. To me they’re classic and everyone knows about them, so maybe the younger folks are having a rough time [laughs]. But I’m starting to put some newer videos in there.
But with that critique, I’m hoping that aside from the frustration, they go and check out those videos they don’t know. It is crazy to think, and crazy to say, but there are people who haven’t seen Baker 3. I mean, fuck, that video is 15 years old now.
When Wordle was popping off were you playing?
I wasn’t. I knew what it was but I just didn’t play it a bunch. I think I got inspired because I saw all of the spinoffs. I actually play those more than Wordle.
I play this game Heardle that Spotify runs. That one is pretty tough. There’s also a geography one and that’s pretty sick. You try to guess the country based on a small map image and it will tell you how far away you were. I like that one because I like trying to figure out geography.
What’s the weirdest version of this format of game you can think of that hasn’t been invented yet?
Maybe pictures of fast food and chain restaurant food without the wrappers or logos, you have to guess where the food came from. I definitely know a few homies who could spot some spicy chicken nuggets from Wendy’s from a mile away.
“I definitely know a few homies who could spot some spicy chicken nuggets from Wendy’s from a mile away.”
Are you able to see the results of everyone’s answers?
Yeah, so I’m at a little bit of a sticky point with that. I have the data about the win percentages from all of the games that have been played. However, the problem, and this is just a problem with websites in general, you don’t have to make an account to play. So essentially, you could go on a different browser, or mess with your browser cache and delete all your data and play it again.
I want to display the win percentages because I think that would be fun, and people want to see that. However, I’m afraid that people will start to mess 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 the game, get the answer, delete your cache, play again and get it the first try.” You’re just playing yourself at that point.
The data is funny to see. I made the first two Bag of Suck and Baker 3 and they had like 95% win rate out of 1,500 plays. Then there was Hollywood Promo and that one had a 25% win rate [laughs]. It’s pretty funny to see that. I do want to share that kind of stuff with everyone who plays but I’m trying to find the right way to do it.
Are there any videos that you know you wouldn’t add?
Not that I don’t fuck with them, but for now, I probably won’t do solo parts. Another segment of videos that I’m unsure about is the indie video era – late 2000s to early 2010s. Like all of the videos out of Arizona. There are so many indie videos that came out around that time and they’re relatively well-known but I still don’t know how people will react.
How tough is it to balance a kid, your job, SkateVideoSite, and Skateboardle?
I’m definitely pulled in many directions [laughs]. Skating has taken the brunt of my time being shaved off. I try to get out and skate at least once a week, that’s my goal [laughs]. Doing Skatevideosite and Skateboardle is tough because I spend so much time on my computer for work so when I finish I’m like, “Fuck, I have to get away from this computer.”
Right now I’m reskinning SkateVideoSite to make it look better. I know the UI has never been the greatest, and I’m not really a front-end person, but I like what I did with the design and look of Skateboardle. I’m trying to make SkateVideoSite look like that a little so we’ll kind of have a matching theme. But sometimes I want to mess around on SkateVideoSite but I’m like, “Fuck I have to spend an hour on Skateboardles,” and there’s my time for the night. I’ve been making it work but lots of stuff pulling at me. But I do have to thank my friends Travis Clow, Frankiesomething, and Harrison Wright for beta testing the game. Also, Markus from Skatevideosite and my wife for dealing with my madness [laughs].
So you do SkateVideoSite and Skateboardle voluntarily, right?
Hell yeah, I’m spending money on it [laughs]. We thought about maybe adding a donation button to SkateVideoSite to help fund it. It’s not terribly expensive each month but I want to make it a better experience on the other side of the world too. Like, I could see how long it takes to load in Southeast Asia and shit, and it’s not as pretty. The server is in New York, so you get the best and fastest experience [laughs]. But that stuff costs money and we just want to do more and explore different things that we all want to do. We might add the donation button, but I don’t want people to think we’re trying to make money off of it.
If the New York Times tried to buy Skateboardle, would you sell it?
[laughs] Uhhh maybe. Depends on the price. But a funnier scenario is if Berra ever tried to buy it. If anyone from the Berrics tried to buy it, I would he be like “Hell no. No thanks, Berra.” He’d slap a “Battle at The Berrics” ad on all three sides of it.