The growing mashup between video games and sneakers surely reached its zenith back in 2018 when Paul George nearly strapped a goddamn PlayStation to his sole with the battery-powered PG2. The silhouette was built from the stuff of adolescent dreams; light-up tongues, individualised barcodes (redeemed via the PlayStation network), and DualShock detailing.
But what about the actual video games that have attempted to render our favourite sneakers?
TOE SHOES X GRAND THEFT AUTO V
Rockstar’s ability to satirise the dark heart of the American Dream goes unrivalled. But it was perhaps within Grand Theft Auto V’s ‘toe shoes’ that this dream had become the most atrophied. The sneakers, marketed for ‘toes and twats’, were broadly advertised across Los Santos, presenting a virtual counterpart to the real world yuppies flogging the absurd sneakers. Seeing our computer-generated brothers and sisters fire across those digital plains in toe shoes, searching for some good old-fashioned impulse violence, said more about the current state of things than we’d care to admit. Our advice? Run. Run like a caveman, you twat.
GOLF LE FLEUR X TONY HAWKS PRO SKATER 5
Tyler, The Creator became a playable character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 shortly after cancelling his Australian tour back in 2015. The immigration department had ‘raised issues’ with Flower Boy’s visa, after activist group Collective Shout took offence to his lyrics. Nevertheless, Tyler was liberated as a digital entity on the rails and half pipes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, with Le Fleur branding popping from the video game’s understated colour palette. The highlight? Surely Tyler's colourful Vans, pre-empting all of The Creator's big sneaker moves of 2017/18.
AIR JORDAN 32 X NBA 2K18
My NBA 2K (and alcohol) addiction elevated to such heights last year that both my girlfriend and cat disappeared on the same weekend. Eventually it was just me, my virtual AJ32s, and a casual habit for pharmaceuticals. To be honest, it wasn’t too bad. Before unlocking the MyCareer mode in NBA 2K18, developers Visual Concepts had you play through the somewhat monotonous Jordan Proving Grounds. But it’s not all bad. Step on over to the pair of AJ32s and take the world’s most disturbing selfie.
NIKE LEBRON X MVP EDITION X GRAND THEFT AUTO SAN ANDREAS MOD
GTA San Andreas had some wild mods back in the day: gravity guns, Superman mods, flying cars. But our personal favourite? When the community modded Nike's LeBron X MVP sneakers. The sneaker was originally worn by the King back in Game 1 of the Heat’s playoff series against the Bulls. The noisy silhouette suited the kind of violent expressionism on display in San Andreas; CJ wasn’t copping any BS when hitting the streets in these bad boys.
NEW BALANCE 574 X FALLOUT
Fallout modder Aerik4Cook ensures we’re all going to be wandering the Wasteland in style with the New Balance 574. The classic silhouette is paired beautifully with the Vault’s blue and yellow jumpsuit. You can even try them on with the Buzz Lightyear mod. That way, you can holler 'to infinity and beyond' while you flatten towns and just generally piss off your fam IRL. Damn, nuclear war looks gooood.
VANS OLD SKOOL X STREET FIGHTER V
Yun won’t just mess you up across Street Fighter V’s 24 maps, he’ll also make sure you’re left holding your digits as he grinds down the streets of Hong Kong. The Kung Fu warrior x skateboarder is also a little sensitive about his street style (‘cheap? I paid a lot for this hat!’). Nail one of his dive kicks and you’ll see a beautiful pair of honeycomb vans flash up on your screen. Soon you’ll be holding your digits for an entirely different reason.
MADLEN SERGIO X SIMS 4
Who is Madlen Sergio? Who knows, but the designer must be a big deal within The Sims digi-verse, as her silhouettes regularly drop within the virtual space for download. The high-top, bougie designs are built with leather uppers, come in six colourways (anyone else getting Maison Margiela vibes here?), and are guaranteed to get your Sims into all sorts of polygonal foreplay. Or just make ‘em look steez while you lock them in the basement. Yeah, I know what you’re up to.
GUN SHOES X WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Ever mounted your raptor in Stranglethorn Vale and spent the next 20 minutes sweating across the ‘W’, ‘A’ and ‘D’ on your keyboard before getting ganked by some lvl 60 hack? Well, dismount, strap these double-barrelled shotguns to your heel, and spray everything tailing your arse as you leg it for the border.