To the surprise of everyone, 2020 hit different: vacations were canceled, festivals and concerts were postponed, and everyone’s best drip stayed in the closet. Besides the pandemic, 2020 still had some other surprises, including the rise in popularity of video games and e-sports, which gave rise to some interesting collabs.
One of the most talked-about collaborations from last year was the announcement of a Playstation and Travis Scott collaboration, including the drop of an exclusive Nike Dunk Low. This collab helped reinforce the fact that video games occupied a central place in today’s culture.
Below, we look at ten of the best sneakers inspired by video games and gaming culture.
One of the rarest and most celebrated Air Force 1 collabs, the Nike Air Force 1 Low Playstation, originally released in 2005 and re-released in 2009 as a Friends & Family to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Playstation 2.
The pairs were limited in 2005 (150 pairs) and even more limited in 2009 (50 pairs only!). With such limited amounts and such an original design (patent leather, different color panels, and a Playstation logo on the heel), both sneakers average a resell price of $10K.
The Nike PG 2.5 Playstation celebrates the revolutionary Playstation – the console that featured the first 3D and CD-ROM games – and the Nike PG – Paul George’s signature sneaker. Released on December 3, 2008, the official release day of the Playstation Classic, the Nike PG 2.5 Playstation reworked the style of the first PlayStation, including the grey colorway of the original console and the famous four-color PlayStation logo on the tongue. Nike incorporated the iconic PlayStation symbols on the side of the shoe and the light-up tongues. Several colorways were released, including a “Friends & Family” pack, including a backpack, sneakers, and two controllers.
In 2018, the annual gaming convention, E3, concluded with a surprise drop: the Jordan 1 Mid Xbox release. After the collaboration between Nike and Sony on an Air Force 1, it was Microsoft’s turn to collaborate on a pair of sneakers. The shoe comes dressed in the black and green of the Xbox console, with a bonus sole and fluorescent laces. This Jordan 1 Mid collab is a true grail for gamers since the sneakers were only giving to Xbox employees. They now sell for more than $1200 on StockX.
We talked about Playstation; we talked about Xbox; now, inevitably, we will talk about Nintendo. In the world of video game consoles, you are either team Playstation, team Nintendo or team Xbox. Nike doesn’t choose, preferring to work with all three. Nike used the Air Max 97 to honor one of the most popular Nintendo consoles of all time: the Nintendo 64.
The shoe features the console’s iconic light gray color, the blue and green piping representing the controller’s “A” and “B” buttons, the yellow air bubble that refers to the “C” button, and the red touch on the tongue and the sole tie back to the “Start” button. Finally, the inscriptions “Power,” “Reset,” and “Designed In 1997” on the insoles finish the pair.
Following the success of the first Nike Playstation collaboration, the two brands worked together on another AF1 to celebrate the release of the PS4. This pair mixes black matte and patent leather with a futuristic blue Swoosh, recalling the blue LED light characteristic of the PS4. The blue color is also found on the shoe’s heels, featuring the Playstation symbol on the left foot and the key symbols on the right foot. The iconic controller buttons – triangle, circle, cross, and square – dress the transparent outsole.
TThis super-limited pair released in 2008, celebrating the 20th-anniversary of the pioneering skateboarding video game, Skate or Die. The blue, orange, and neon yellow colorway come from the video game’s cover.
The Swoosh and Nintendo teamed up for the launch of the Nintendo Wii. After selling the first handheld consoles in the ’90s with the GameBoy, Nintendo released the Wii to revolutionize the way we play. Nike and Nintendo created a pack containing an Air Max 95, a Nike Air Force II High, and a Nike Blazer High. Both pairs feature the white color scheme of the console and the “Power” button symbol on the tongue.
I’ve never been a big fan of FPS (First Person Shooter) games, but if there’s one that I love, it’s Halo. The graphics, the atmosphere, the story, and the gameplay blew me away; I don’t think I’m the only one. To celebrate the 2007 release of Halo 3, adidas teamed up with Microsoft and Gilbert Arenas. Gilbert Arenas, the former NBA player, also known as “Agent Zero” because of his jersey number, is a huge Halo 3 fan. He contributed to this pair of adidas TS Lightswitches. Famous weapons from the Halo universe are printed on the upper, Halo 3’s logo features on the outsole, and Halo 3 is written on the insole. This is the best way to be ready for the release of the next Halo opus.
Which fighting game is best, Street Fighter or Tekken, remains one of the OG video game debates. The question was so pressing that we finally got a Street Fighter x Tekken game in 2012 to determine who the best fighters really were.
In honor of Chun Li from the Street Fighter series, Nike dropped a special edition SB Dunk Low. This Dunk features an argon blue upper with nylon on the toe as well as suede overlays. Logos, laces, and a white Swoosh midsole sit atop a gum rubber sole. “Chun Li” printed insoles complete the design.
Let’s finish with some hype. And when we talk about Hype – especially now – we’re usually talking about Travis Scott. After collaborating with Fortnite for an in-game digital event followed by the release of Travis Scott Merch – including the famous action figure pack – La Flame teased us last December with a never-before-seen pair of Nike Dunk Low. And for a good reason: the pair was released in only a few copies and could only be won through a raffle on Travis Scott’s website. The Dunk features a distressed, light blue pastel print, gray contrast overlays, and tinted brown reverse Swoosh. You can find PS5 details on the heel, a Sony PlayStation logo, as well as a PlayStation writing on the outsole.
These sneakers scream hype, and once again, Travis showed us how to use an exclusive drop to generate interest. It worked: A recent pair sold on StockX sold for more than $9000.
As this list shows, gaming culture, just like the sneakers culture, is central in today’s cultural landscape. OGs and younger gamers alike share a passion and nostalgia for their favorite games, and there’s nothing better than wearing a bit of your passion on your feet.