Racing Games vs. Real Life

These days almost everything can be reduced to a video game. Hell, you can even play The Sims if you want to know what it’s like to be a human being. But, with real life taking shape better and better on game consoles the argument grows more every day. Which console sports the best racing game? And can you really learn a race track or learn to race for that matter on a video game? Well a few years back Fernando Alonso shocked the world by proclaiming that he had learned the art of racing on a Grand Prix track in Turkey by playing it on a game. Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear did a special episode of what we are talking about right now.

If you remember some of the more important scenes of the movie “Driven” featuring Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds, you see a young Formula 1 racer Jimmy Bly use a racing simulator to see where he was good and bad around certain tracks. Also if you notice, he was pushing it to the limits every time. This is beside the point, the point is that they showed it in a movie before it was even popular thought to use racing games or simulators to try and help drivers.

In an episode of Top Gear you see Jeremy Clarkson talking about racing a game versus real life. He takes a Sony Playstation 2 and uses the immensely popular Gran Turismo 4 game to showcase the real life challenge versus the racing game ease. He picks a Acura NSX and drives around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and manages to pull off a 1:41 lap time. How he does this on a video game when he pretends not to even know what it is astounds me, but, that is a different topic for a different time possibly. He then travels to California to drive a real NSX on Laguna Seca and manages after a full day there, working with the tracks professional teacher/driver manages a best time of 1:57. Now I think we can all agree that it is much different to race a game and then get into a car and do the same exact thing in real life. Although he did prove that you can learn the dynamics of the track by driving the game.

I love to get on my Xbox 360 and drive a car around the Nürburgring on Forza 2. My car of choice is a Porsche 997 911 GT3, one of my favorite cars. I have proven that with all the time that I spend (when I’m able) with the GT3 car on that track – I hardly race any other car and never another track – I can beat almost anything faster than my car. The Ring is all about finesse and I am confident that if I were to go there now I could be able to drive the track much quicker and with much more confidence than having not have played the game. Of course I can’t really demonstrate that at this time, but, when I can I certainly will.

Now which game is actually best? I personally prefer Gran Turismo over all, but I do love the driving characteristics of Forza 2 though. I have a Playstation 3 and a 360, so once I get the new GT5 I will compare the two. As for comparable games, GT4 was in my opinion much better than Forza 1. The cars were more realistic and the driving was better. There are other driving games out there but none to me that have shown they can have the true realism and enthusiast drawl as the Gran Turismo and Forza series’. One fun game that I do like is the Project Gotham series. The new PGR4 is the most realistic of them all in the series and is a lot of fun to drive. Still PGR is much more of an unrealistic game when compared to Forza 2, but, can at times be more fun when drifting and doing competitions.

There will always be a debate on which game is better than the other. That is why I like to give as little of opinions as possible. As for driving games versus driving real life, I think you can just as easily learn to race on a game as you can in real life. Obviously it would be much harder in real life, but, it would be better to learn more of the basics so that you don’t have to worry about messing up a car in real life when you do something wrong. I would love to see more driving simulators out there that train people how to really drive certain cars and even learn tracks and what not. I think Jeremy said it best in Top Gear when he tried to make the viewers understand that the human mind can come up with all sorts of bad things that can happen in real life on the track to prevent you from going faster, but, on the game you don’t have to worry about those things.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all