Friday, 25 January 2013

Video games under utilized: Simulation

Video games have been around for quite a while but it still remains vastly under utilized due to various reasons. Its potential however is being well exploited in the entertainment industry as far as the technical aspects are concerned (mostly), this has paved way to simulation, a genre most gamers are synonymous with.
                              The most realistic implementation of simulation has to be in the racing genre, four wheelers to be specific. I found out about it not a very long time ago, I was sucked into the immaculate implementation of racing physics and tight control scheme. I didn't play the game on a racing wheel though, it was on my PlayStation Portable, it may not racing wheel realism but the analog stick and the shoulder buttons were quite effective. The game I am speaking about is Gran Turismo - *tagline* the real driving simulator ( I concur). I had also been able to play Need for Speed Shift on PC thanks to my Logitech Gamepad F510, the controller was not simulation friendly and it was built for people with large hands but I got to play through half of the game until I hands started aching. The game had options to adjust the controller's sensitivity but the controller just didn't get along with my hands (the trigger buttons were slightly out of reach). Revving Lamborghini's accelerator in Shift was as close as I could get to actual race car driving, it's a tall claim but I was pretty gratified with the experience. But how close would it have been if I did have a racing wheel full with manual transmission rather than a controller, close enough? assuming it is, would it be possible for me to drive an actual car on road afterwards? maybe, how about taking part in a professional race? sounds unlikely and what about winning the race further becoming a professional race car driver?! I should get my feet back on earth and think through my words. Jann Mardenborough from UK begs to differ, he managed to get his GT racing skills on to the real track, went against 90,000 other gamers and won a week long race camp. Easily a quintessential example of how the effective the medium is. Keep in mind that there were 90,000 other gamers who have taken part in the event solely by Gran Turismo driving experience and none of them had actual driving experience. I have had a first hand experience of something similar when riding a gear-less scooter, it was during the time I played Gran Turismo, the driving mechanics in GT were pretty influential in the real world despite it being a car simulator and me playing it on the PSP.

Gran Turismo 5 teenage player becomes real life racing driver
                        
                                      Here's a thought, if it had been so effective on grounds of racing won't it be an economical and safer solution to play the game rather than actually feel the thrill of the ride on a real racing car or a bike. Many would disagree on this, I don't blame them nor do I insist on reverting to my suggestion but I'd just like everyone to think about it. I don't want to intimidate/demotivate anybody talking about how risky racing at high speeds can be but it would prove to be a terrific practice ground for those who are hell bent on experiencing the thrill of driving at-least. To support my theory, I'd like to point out an unfortunate event that had occurred in my hometown not a long time ago, the unfortunate death of former Indian cricket captain Azharuddin's son. He was a victim of a road accident which had occurred as a result of high speed riding. He was young and had a thirst for thrill which is obviously normal for someone his age but he didn't have to go through such great lengths for it. I find it disturbing to read the news let alone speak about it but if you still happen to disagree I'm just going to say that I'd be better safe than dead. This is but one of many cases of death caused by unsafe driving practices in my hometown.

Azharuddin's son laid to rest

                                     I have heard BMW had its own simulator for their cars which was meant to teach people on road (not a race track) driving and I'm pretty sure everyone's aware of a flight simulator which is something any airline pilot has to experience before he gets to navigate a real plane, similarly video games can be very helpful on grounds of on-road safety. Driving simulators have been around for quite a while but they are under utilized or they may be having low production values, as a result this still remains a vastly untapped potential among many of the video-game medium's attributes. In conclusion, I hope this post brings light to the under valued simulation genre and its real world applications that could possibly save lives.
Here's a fun online driving simulator to light up the moment: Driving Simulator

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