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Gratitude for the Miracle Man

Why I Love: Pumped BMX developer Adam Hunt pays heartfelt homage to a magazine disc demo of Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX

Why I Love is a series of guest editorials on intended to showcase the ways in which game developers appreciate each other's work. This entry was contributed by Adam Hunt, owner of Yeah Us! and solo developer and creator of the Pumped BMX series, including the recently released Pumped BMX Pro on PC, Xbox One, and Switch.

It's 2000. I'm one of four teenage boys huddled around the TV waiting for the PS1 to boot. We've just got our hands on issue #36 of the Official PlayStation Magazine, which we know includes a demo of the upcoming game Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. We all ride BMXs in real life, and have been waiting for a 'next-gen' BMX game for what feels like an eternity - and now it is here! We are beyond excited.

It's just one small level, a section of the Woodward skatepark called 'Lot 8', and you can play it on repeat. So we do. Again, and again. And again. Until the early hours of the morning, passing the controller between us.

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Through a fog of dense weed smoke we played whenever we were together, challenging each other to complete certain tricks, or to do 'realistic runs' (keeping all tricks within the realms of possibility), or just flowing the level and having a super clean run. The controls were weird, the physics were slow, and the level was tiny, but we loved it.

If we were hanging out, we were playing Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. It was such a... pure experience, if I can possibly get away with describing an extreme sports demo disc as 'pure.' There was no bullshit. A small skatepark level, no character selection, and a two-minute timer. That's it, that's all we needed to unleash hours and hours of creativity. We'd find new lines constantly. New ways of hitting ramps. New gaps we didn't think were possible. Weird glitches that looked more like real tricks than the real tricks. Man, we loved that game.

When my friends went home, I played it even more. I played it constantly. My parents were going through an ugly divorce and I was really struggling, I was on medication and seeing a therapist but I think fundamentally I was just really, really sad.

At the time I was living with my dad, and he'd go away every weekend to see his girlfriend, giving me the run of the house. Most of the time it was awesome -- BMX, smoking weed and video games with friends! -- but my friends weren't always there, and that's when I played Mirra. I could get lost in it, it was... meditative I guess.

I still get the same feeling from sports games like Skate, or Steep - just getting in the groove and switching off. But Mirra was one of the first games to give me that feeling, and it was a life saver.

I know countless people have written about depression and video games before so I'm sure I'm not saying anything new, but man... sometimes an escape is exactly what you need. And that's exactly what Dave Mirra gave me, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Rest in peace brother.

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