Growing up, my parents were adamant about prohibiting video game consoles in the house; TV was time-limited as it is (the permitted shows included South Park and The Simpsons…go figure), the computer was for “educational purposes” (i.e. school work or reading about cars) and recreational activities took the form of a book or outdoor activities. Until that fateful day in Target.
In the spring of 1998, my family headed to Florida, not for a vacation, but to say goodbye to my Grandfather, who had little hope of recovering from a cascade of illnesses that ultimately led to his death. My Dad was tasked with occupying my brother and I (10 and 6 at the time) while my mother, grandmother and uncle waited by my Grandfather’s bed.
We were easily amused, and so my Dad would take us to Target, where we would occupy ourselves with the video game console displays; a novelty to us, since video games were verboten. On one occasion, the demo being played at the Playstation stand was Gran Turismo. The list of available cars included my all-time favorite, the NSX (a very cool, JDM Honda NSX, no less) and from that point on, it was game over (no pun intended). I didn’t even have to hound my parents for a Playstation. They knew this was a turning point.
For years, battling it out in the various iterations of Gran Turismo was a favorite past time. Controllers were thrown, fractions of a second were agonized over, endless vexation was endured over those motherf***ing license tests. And then, I turned 16, began driving and never picked up racing games again. To me, it’s analogous to Playboy and the real thing. Some of my friends still love to nerd out over Forza 3 and GT5 and compare virtual gear ratios, tire compounds and engine swaps. I don’t get it. But then again, some of them love to argue over who is a better porn star, too. Let me know if you still like to play racing games. Keep the x-rated opinions to yourself.