Driving sims translate to real world skill

Original publish date: January 2011

Recently a video game was released for a game console that some of the older folk in the world would call “that X-Playbox station thingy”. The game is Gran Turismo 5. Like most things these days, this game was marketed with advertising and fancy slogans. However, unlike most things, it wasn’t sex that sold Gran Turismo 5.

You see the marketing folk for GT5 chose to advertise the game as “The Real Driving Simulator”, no doubt targeting the die hard car fan. This is of course a lie. You do not drive cars in GT5. There is no “Sunday cruise along the coast” option. Nor is there a “mass commute to work via the Monash” game mode. In GT5 you do not drive cars, you race them.

To achieve success in GT5, you must learn precise car control, racing lines, braking techniques. Without these you cannot win. Think weight transfer, left foot braking, matching revs on downshifts. This is how precise GT5 requires you to be or you will fail. All these things can be learnt and practiced in your home, at any time of day, and without the concern of the police.

Of course, if the police could, they’d likely try installing speed cameras in video games. Naturally not to slow us down, but as a way to raise revenue. Sure that may be a low blow to the speed camera chaps but when the facts show only 2% of fatalities are caused by speeding vehicles yet speed cameras are cropping up more and more, it seems justified to argue against them. I could ramble on about speed camera facts and figures all day. The fact is, it’s unlikely to change the minds of the cheese eaters that install, run and profit from the cameras.

“But I don’t care for video games and speed cameras” You say, well perhaps you may be interested in a little item known as the Tesla Roadster. An American conversion of the Lotus Elise that’s been electrified. Internal combustion engine removed, electric motor installed. That means 100% torque from a standstill, instant power and supercar performance. This is the first electric car with performance flair in a mass produced consumer market. Sure you’ll need to plug it in every few days, and it’s probably not as light as the petrol equivalent thanks to the batteries. But it’s a unique piece of electronic/automotive genius. Will this change motoring? Not just yet, at the moment there’s still room for fossil fuels in this world.

Though, the Tesla is a move toward an even greater marriage between the electronic and mechanical industries. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. Of course if you don’t have the $100,000+ funds to grab a Telsa Roadster for yourself, you could perhaps give it a go on GT5. While you’re there you could take a moment to have a look at some of the automotive imagery that GT5 is able to create. Photo realistic cars in photo realistic environments. Stunning lighting effects generated from a computer and projected onto your screen.

Sure it’s all impressive computerised witch craft, but it’s not real.

So get out there, take your real car to a real track and give it a go.

Though consider this, perhaps if the speed camera’s could produce photos of our cars as beautifully as the images out of GT5, we’d all be a little more inclined to pay the fines…