Car Racing’s Enduring Appeal and the Different Ways it Has Inspired Gaming

Paul Hadley
10/01/20191st October, 2019
Filed under Car Topics

There is truly nothing quite like getting behind the wheel of a high-performance car or a vehicle designed specifically with racing in mind. Such machines offer an incredible combination of speed and power and being able to push them to the limit is undoubtedly one of the most life-affirming things you will ever get to do.

Car racing is simply thrilling, high-octane action and there is nothing else like it. So, in a way, it makes absolute sense that other industries would look at the key components of the sport and attempt to recreate them in whatever way they can. One sector that does this more than many is, of course, the gaming industry, which has produced a host of titles through the years to try and replicate the undeniable excitement of racing.

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However, what is perhaps most intriguing about the link between the two worlds is the different routes that some developers have taken after seeking their inspiration from the track.

The next best thing

Of course, the most obvious way that gaming has looked to replicate car racing is by precisely creating simulations to give us a taste of what it would be like to be behind the wheel of a high-powered supercar. After all, as not many of us will ever be lucky enough to achieve that, such titles essentially offer the next best thing.

Gran Turismo Sport is a recent successful example of this type of game, with figures released earlier this year revealing it had sold an estimated eight million copies since its launch at the end of 2017.

Created by Polyphony Digital, the game is thought to boast the best automotive simulation features of any title in the renowned Gran Turismo franchise. Furthermore, the developers painstakingly recreated more than 150 cars for the game, while they also created circuits based on real-life locations which can be experienced in a range of daylight and weather conditions.

Gran Turismo Sport is the latest edition of the well-known racing series.

The result? A game which has been designed with the specific purpose of recreating one of the most authentic racing experiences available, with even the sounds of vehicles being recorded in order to bring it as close as possible to the real thing.

Taking a different approach

While a game like Gran Turismo Sport has been developed to offer an intricate and precise recreation of almost all of the elements of car racing in the real world, other developers have chosen to focus on a handful of them to bring the thrills of competing against other drivers to life. In fact, Nintendo managed to take a far less realistic approach to racing that went on to become one of the biggest selling video game franchises of all-time.

When Super Mario Kart was first launched for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System way back in 1992, few could have predicted that the game would become a monster hit that would essentially be remade time and time again. The combination of Nintendo’s colorful cast of characters and some simple racing elements made it a huge success and a core staple of the company’s line-up of games. Whenever a new Nintendo console is launched, we now expect a Mario Kart game to follow. Furthermore, the title has even recently been introduced to the mobile gaming world on both iOS and Android too.

But just what is it that Mario Kart does so well as it looks to recreate the thrills of racing? Well, while it features a range of vehicles and a host of imaginative circuits, it ultimately keeps the fundamental basics simple. The controls are straightforward so almost anyone can play and win, while the pace of the action is frenetic and ultimately every race can change in an instant due to the item boxes found on the track. With each race only being three laps too, it means players do not have to wait long to get another opportunity to battle their friends and earn those all-important bragging rights.

A different way to race

But while Gran Turismo Sport and Mario Kart may seem like obvious examples of car games which have used racing as an inspiration in different ways, there are other types of games that have taken elements of motorsport to create unique experiences. In fact, some titles which have done this would not even regard themselves as racing games.

In a similar vein to Mario Kart, the concept plays on the competitive spirit of racing and the need to go as fast as you can to ultimately succeed. This makes it yet another fascinating example of how racing has been skilfully adapted into another form of gaming.

Recreating the thrill of racing

All of the information above clearly highlights just a few distinct examples of how gaming has taken inspiration from the thrills and spills of racing through the years. The idea of being locked in a race against time or other competitors undoubtedly makes for a real sense of drama and, while each of the games mentioned above is hugely different, each of them attempts to recreate this in their own way.

The worlds of car racing and video gaming have shared a long relationship down the years and, with new innovations like virtual reality technology becoming increasingly prominent, it will truly be fascinating to see what comes next.

author avatar Written by Paul Hadley

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