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This Video Game Made Me a Better Driver


#1

I know what adjustments I can make to my dampers or spring rates to encourage more oversteer, I know how my camber will affect straight line and mid-corner grip/stability, I know to brake in a straight line, I know how to clip an apex, I know how to counter steer, blah blah blah.

Believe it or not, I learned this all from a video game.

The game is none other than the racing simulator Gran Turismo, a long standing benchmark to which other ‘simulators’ compare themselves. The developers of Gran Turismo have prided themselves on realism both in graphics and simulation physics. The game starts you off in amateur races and each racing series has requirements and limitations such as drivetrain, power, modifications, or even make/model. As you progress and gain the skills to take on faster cars, trickier courses, and better competitors, you will move into various racing series such as NASCAR, GT 500, F1, 24 Hour races, and even Rally Cross.

If you want the best learning experience, the game is most effective with a steering wheel set up compatible with the game. Logitech makes one of the best set-ups out there and includes a wheel with force feedback and an optional 6 speed shifter. It can even be mounted to a DIY simulation chair or one of the pricier options available online. See below for a play seat example. I made an almost identical one for $45!

The game’s largest emphasis is on real driving techniques. This could be anywhere from how to avoid understeer to dealing with lift-throttle oversteer. Tackling double apexes, off camber corners, wet conditions, endurance races, and drifting are all advanced tactics you learn about while playing this game. If it weren’t for Gran Turismo, I wouldn’t know how to modify my own car to cater the handling and engine characteristics to my liking. I wouldn’t have learned about race series, technologies, or the vast array of makes/models out there that provide an incredible driving experience.

At the end of the day, this video game made me a great driver. I’ve managed to excel quickly on a real track due to the fundamentals I learned playing this simulator, and if real road racing is out of your budget, why not give a racing simulator a try. That way when you crash your Porsche GT3 into several other expensive cars, it only hurts your pride, not your wallet.

I’m sure there are others out there who understand the fun of racing simulators as well! Please share your set ups or favorite games in the comments section, I’d love to hear what others are doing.


#2

Have you spent time on track also to compare the seat-of-the-pants feeling with that of the game?

I always struggle with simulators because they lack that little bit extra feeling of the car nosing down under braking, or pushing ever so slightly before the front end lets go.


#3

Good point Kyle!

That is the issue with simulators, the lack of physicality. You have to rely on just the view of the car, speed, and sounds within the simulator along with the feeling from the steering wheel to have any type of feedback on driving. I have spent a fair amount of time on track. In real life, you can feel what the car is doing/will do with that ‘seat-of-the-pants’ sensation.

Simulators don’t let me feel what racing is like, however, they do let me know what racing requires. The many techniques and lessons learned in the game translate incredibly well to real driving scenarios. GT6 is a 50/50 split between fun entertainment and learning.


#4

This reminds me of the simulator some driver training classes used in the 50s and maybe 60s. The students would sit in something like a bumper car and watch a video and they would supposedly negotiate through traffic. A few years ago I was involved in training soldiers operate MRAPs. Part of the training was driving with the Drivers Visual Enhancer (DVE) system which enabled them to see when normal vision was impaired. Without explaining how it worked drivers would drive looking at a screen instead of looking through the windshield. When I learned to use it I found myself getting slightly nauseated until I got used to it as did many of the soldiers I was training. But those soldiers who played video games were not affected with this nausea and seemed to adapt to the lack of dimension quicker.


#5

Wow, I had no idea the military used this kind of tech for training but it doesn’t surprise me. Super unique opportunity for you to train with those systems!


#6

Racing on a simulator for sure teaches you proper track etiquette. It’s not about just going as fast as possible, all the time. I agree with Kyle too, it’s not the same as a real track experience but certainly the next best thing.