Nearly 10 years ago, Marc Eckō released a video game on graffiti writing called “Marc Eckō’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.” The game dropped on Valentine’s Day of 2006, impressing a handful of game critics with its ambition and heart, but failing to integrate comfortable graffiti mechanics or innovative fighting elements. Gamers are hard to impress – the game may have been a cool, unique idea, but playing it was an entirely different experience.
“Marc Eckō’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure,” revolved around a dude named Trane who had the goal of “getting up,” in a Dystopian city called New Radius – a fictional world reminiscent of an Orwellian New York where artistic expression is banned. Playing as Trane, users could explore the city’s depths, get his name up, and remove the anti-graffiti propaganda created by the despotic Mayor Sung. Thus proving to the public the importance of graffiti and creating an uprising. Along the way, players can also meet graffiti legends like Seen, Cope2, Futura, Obey, T Kid, and Sane Smith.
Marc Eckō’s plan was to shine a light against the typical view of graffiti writing in America. He gave exposure of the graf culture to a new crowd, much similar to how “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” franchise affected gamers and inspired teens to start skateboarding. Of course, “Getting Up,” wasn’t as successful as “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” so that wave of teens who started graf writing was a much smaller crowd than those who started skating.
This was an unfortunate thing, really, because “Marc Eckō’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure,” had an amazing message. It was such a great and innovative idea for video games at the time, but with hype over the next generation of consoles releasing (Xbox 360 was picking up some steam with the release of “Prey” and “Gears of War”) and AAA exclusive titles coming for Microsoft, Nintendo (“Zelda: Twilight Princess”) and Sony systems, it was overshadowed and its message didn’t matter.
The game surely knew how to create hype, though. The game’s main character, Trane, was voiced by rapper Talib Kweli. The incredibly talented ex-Def Jukie, RJD2, composed the entirety of the original score for the game. The game’s actual licensed soundtrack featured classic cuts from Mobb Deep, The Notorious B.I.G., and Nina Simone. Original tracks came from Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Rakim, and Fort Minor (yo, remember them?). It had a dope-ass mixtape with a lot of good cuts that went under almost everyone’s radar, too.
The game even had its own street team, helping push forth the efforts of graf and awareness of the game. People could sign up on an official website hosted by Atari to get a care package sent to them, full of stickers, a free shirt, and other graf-type propaganda, similar to what was featured in the “Getting Up,” game. People were encouraged to become Trane and post content relating to the video game over city walls while sporting the crew’s official t-shirt.
In “Getting Up,” Trane sported aerosol cans, posters, stickers, and markers. The story had the strength to dispel the hostility felt towards graffiti by most folks, giving personality to each character featured, making sure people knew there was a unique story to every piece you see written by every unique individual in your real local city.
Obviously, Eckō had big plans with the release of the title. He passionately spoke on the development on the game up until its release. In a promotional video for the title, he talked a bit on the seriousness of graf and creating a game that helps advocate the form. “There’s no institution that teaches it, no courses you can take to study it, and regardless of what language you speak or where you live in the world, graffiti is the cornerstone in a language of street art.” He worked alongside those graffiti legends like Seen, Cope2, Futura, Obey, T Kid., and Sane Smith, to get a feeling for the characters written in the game’s plot.
He sought after realism, for sure. If you moved up on your analog stick, Trane stood on his tip-toes to write his piece. If you moved your analog stick down, he’d crouch. If you spent too much time painting in the same place, you’ll drip and ruin your piece. Moving the analog sticks too fast caused your piece to become incomplete and have a bad fill of paint, which means you received some kind of failure. It was kinda cool for what it was trying to accomplish.
However, this is where gaming critics had issues. The actual painting and graf part of the game wasn’t solid as a gameplay mechanic. The game made writing super easy, and although those little paint details mattered to Eckō, the game featured a terrible mechanic for tagging buildings, and the fighting aspect where Trane had to kick security’s asses at times was kind of sloppy. Trane’s legs moved like rubber, and there were better games out there that featured tighter controlling of characters like Trane at the time. Not to mention, there were already a slew of games that took inspiration from “Grand Theft Auto III,” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” that were based on getting your reputation and street respect up. Ecko’s was just one of the only ones that did it in a more non-violent way.
The next coming years might see a resurgence of the title, though. In 2009, Eckō stated in an interview that he indeed wanted to get the brand back out. “‘Getting Up,’ was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Atari shit the bed, you know? And I’m gonna fucking make that game again if it kills me. I’m gonna do it. I want to see the brand out there again.”
Mass Appeal reached out to Marc Eckō recently in regards to the flack the game caught when it was initially released in 2006. “I was a mess at the time,” he told us, via email. “My skin wasn’t thick enough — I had never engaged in a business (up until that instance) that was so pegged to reviews. The buy side of the gaming industry is highly informed by reviews; especially at that time. It was an amazing experience, and taught me a great deal about business. Gaming is a fascinating segment of the entertainment business. It’s sort of mind blowing to reflect on the last decade of the industry. What’s crazy is it’s still a very young industry — compared to film, TV, etc. Just look at iOS today…and what that did to sort of fracture the hand held space. ”
Hold ups may include legal issues with Atari and licensings. Back in December of 2013, the game was re-released on PC via Steam, with a bit more polish on what that 2006 version featured. On 2013′s Valentine’s Day, Eckō’s official Twitter announced that the game’s sequel is officially in development, though most gaming sites didn’t really pay it any mind. An official statement from Eckō himself hasn’t happened yet, and there aren’t any screenshots, videos, or any revelations of the game out as of yet.
But while the official Eckō Twitter account may have confirmed it, Marc Eckō is keeping quiet about the project. “Getting Up is/was a very special project for me. In time, I would like to revisit it. I think the strength of the product was the tone and story. The animation — I think, best expressed the spirit of the property– perhaps more so than the gameplay. I feel like it’s an unfinished chapter for me. I am always noodling on it– but no material announcements to make about a sequel. Sorry. But I will hit Mass Appeal first, when it is time. Ha!”
Whether or not a “Getting Up,” sequel is in the works, Eckō has big plans for a future with the title. “When it happens, and in what form, will without a doubt be curated through the lens of music and culture. That was the funniest bits (for me, selfishly speaking) — collaborating with RJD2 and Puffy back when. And of course the eclectic mash up in the casting.”