Three decades ago, video games could only offer the vaguest approximation of driving. Things are very different today. While a lot of modern software still forgoes realism for the sake a fun, simulators have grown in popularity and are becoming incredibly realistic. Real tracks are built to scale, weather effects have meaning, and automobiles behave in a faithful manner. Gamers can even swap their gamepads for honest-to-god cockpits.
Racing simulators have become so effective that Nissan’s PlayStation GT Academy program is now in its eighth year. The event pits thousands of gamers against each other in order to find some they can put behind the wheel of an actual race car. Players then receive additional simulator and on-road training before being allowed to compete in legitimate races.
While we could endlessly debate how well video game skills translate to actual racing, they do provide gamers with an opportunity to learn the tracks and sharpen reaction times. They’ve certainly proven competitive enough for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile to sanction virtual racing leagues.
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