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Racing into Reality

Gran Tourismo 5 - apparently realistic enough to allow talented players to make the switch to actual real-life racing

A small thing, this, but I’ve been entertaining a suspicion that stuff like this would start to happen sooner or later for quite some time now. And since it’s from the UK press I thought you might well have missed it across the Atlantic: a twentysomething Grand Turismo addict has used his obsession to actually make the cut as a real life racing driver.

I’m rubbish at racing games, although I greatly enjoy trying to pretend otherwise. I imagine even Mr. Barnes could probably beat me in a race. But one title I’ve never, ever been able to get to grips with is Gran Turismo. I wanted to like it. I could see the charm, the wonderment waiting under the hood for those able to master rear-wheel drive cars, running the racing line and who understood whatever the hell it is that a carburettor does. But I was not one of those chosen few and I eventually gave up the franchise in favour of the rather more user friendly Project Gotham games. I got the feeling then that Gran Turismo was close to a proper simulator, something for the hard-core, a version of Microsoft Flight Simulator for petrolheads and so it was okay for me to utterly rubbish at it, as most people are utterly rubbish at flight sims. This article makes me feel vindicated.

But more interestingly it goes to show just how incredibly realistic home video games have become. Whilst I’ve been waiting to see news reports just like this, I still find it incredible that, as the article points out, running a computer game gives the player enough skill to compensate for the incredibly important things it misses out like real G-force, real car judder and – most importantly of all – the real chance that you might crash and die horribly in an enormous fireball. What does that tell us, I wonder, about computer games and in fact about the sorts of people that play them?

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Matt Thrower

Matt is a board gamer who plays video games when he can't find anyone similarly obsessive to play against, which is frequently. The inability to get out and play after the birth of his first child lead him to start writing about games as a substitute for playing them. He founded and writes there and at

2 thoughts to “Racing into Reality”

  1. I’m a gearhead (petrolhead for the Brits) and have been a fan of the Gran Turismo series forever. I’m not surprised in the least that someone was able to tranfer their GT skills to the real race course. If you have ever watched Top Gear (the UK version) Jeremy Clarkson did an experiment with GT where he compared his lap times in the real world with his Play Station times. He was much faster in the game than actually driving because, you know, real world physics and all.

    Additionally, I love MS Flight Simulator (I have my private pilots license) and I believe student pilots are now able to use it to log the mandatory 5 hrs or so of sim time to get their license. Just one example of how far technology has come and how “games” can be used for real world pursuits.

    Great article, thanks for posting this topic.

  2. I’d say something like iRacing is a better sim to cut your teeth on for the real world, but he’s been playing for YEARS and GT was what most people played back in the day.

    Anyway, this kid seems to be on a good path. Props to him, he put his time in and it’s paying off.

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