Do racing games match up to real life? (2023)

Back in 2008, Nissan launched its GT Academy. A revolutionary idea, it aimed to find professional racing drivers not on the track, but in a computer game. It saw gamers the world over submit a time to a unique race on Gran Turismo 5. The 22 fastest ended up in Silverstone, competing for a chance to race professionally for Nissan.

Now in its fifth year, GT Academy has become a genuine back door into the world of motorsport. Untapped talent is stuck at home playing games, and Nissan hopes to find it.

Obviously, Nissan doesn't hand the keys of a full-blown race car to someone whose track career to date is purely virtual. Training is required, and Nissan wanted to show us exactly how tough it is.

Over the course of two days Nissan combined cutting-edge digital technology with performance cars and a touch of Gran Turismo 6, in an attempt to turn us into a racing driver. So just how real is Gran Turismo? And did we get any quicker?

The training starts

Arriving at Stowe circuit early in the morning, Nissan immediately plonked us into the driver's seat of a powerful 370z Nismo road car. This wasn't before we managed to squeeze in a cheeky few laps using the same car on Gran Turismo.

(Video) Racing games VS Real life

What Nissan hoped to do was see just how we drove in real life without training, before it tried to work its magic with us. The result? We were extremely slow.

Initial impressions of Gran Turismo versus the real world left us wondering exactly what went wrong.

    "Having played every game in the series, we considered ourselves dab hands at driving - virtually at least. In the real world however, things were very different."

Above all else, fear plays a much bigger role. Squeezing the 'X' button and holding full throttle in Gran Turismo is a lot easier than pushing a real car at 100 mph plus with your foot flat to the floor. Keeping committed to a corner in a game is easy, but in real life, you know a mistake will hurt.

Disappointed with our lap time of 1 minute and 8 seconds, Nissan then set about working its magic. Really mastering the race track requires hundreds of hours of physical and mental training, as well as getting to grips with the advanced technology they use.

Technology leads to triumph

Helping simplify things is the Juke Ride, basically a Nissan car with a huge race computer in the back and, for added fun, a remote control helicopter on the top. Using the Juke Ride it was possible to see just how sloppy our driving controls were.

In Gran Turismo a gear change is as quick as tapping a button - but in real life, every gear shift was losing us plenty of time. We were also far too slow to react on brakes and the accelerator, as well as being incredibly heavy-handed with the steering.

A night's rest and some time to dwell on our poor performance the day before, we were out again around the Stowe circuit in the same 370z. This time, Nissan gave us pointers.

At this point, it started to become just how different games and reality were. With an instructor walking us through laps, the fear factor faded - but it was replaced instead with a fundamental misunderstanding of how cars handle.

In Gran Turismo, it's very easy to take a car round a corner simply on understeer. You accelerate hard, brake late and then coast the vehicle through a bend, the virtual tyres doing everything for you.

(Video) How Do Sim Racing & Real-World Racing Compare? Pro Racer Explains

Try this in the real world and you will end up in a wall of tyres, which we very nearly did. Instead, going quick demands you to be incredibly smooth with every point of contact in the car, yet far more committed.

Head to a corner and rather than squeezing the 'X' button, you need to push the brakes as hard as you can immediately, slowly releasing them to get the entry speed just right. Even before that, however, you have to have an idea of how fear will affect you, as well as what sort of racing line you will take.

On Gran Turismo, for the most part you concentrate on the car in front, or the virtual racing line placed on the track to help. Sat in the 370z at Stowe circuit, we needed to look and think our approach to corners ahead of time to get faster.

The good news was that Nissan's initial training shaved seconds off our lap times, getting us down to 1 minute and 6 seconds. For a racing driver, that's a speed increase that might take them years to accomplish.

The digital training

Next it was time to take on Nissan's digital side of training, but not before we had another go at Gran Turismo 6 just to compare things further.

A few virtual races and we began to realise that in some respects, Gran Turismo is actually harder. Firstly, the cars tend to spin more easily in the game and are more prone to sliding uncontrollably.

It's also more difficult to learn a circuit on GT6, simply because you don't have the wide peripheral vision and same amount of detail to play with as in real life. Braking points, for example are easier to spot in reality.

Now it was time to go to Nissan's own training centre. A full racing simulator, full fitness checker and some other interesting pieces of electronics - all designed to speed up lap times - have been built inside a rather large trailer.

There was a Batax machine, which is designed to speed up reaction times and increase awareness in your peripheral vision. Essentially a giant spider web with lights on, you have to hit buttons that light up over sixty seconds. A racing driver typically scores 100 points. We managed 47.

(Video) When a Racing Game Tries to Match Reality

Then we used a clever iPad connected MindWave machine. The device measures levels on concentration within the brain, and is designed to help drivers get into what Nissan calls 'the zone'. Basically the ideal mindset to drive a race in is a combination of relaxation and concentration.

The machine would ask us to try and achieve that state, and then deliver results showing how quickly we might be able to react to lights changing at the start of a race, or shifting gear.

Do racing games match up to real life? (1)

Finally, prior to our time in the simulator, was a quick health check-up using a very high-tech machine. This looked at our weight, height, muscle mass and visceral fat levels to come up with an overall fitness score. We wont say what ours is, but in order for Nissan to let you drive a race car professionally, it needs to be a lot higher.

This is where the change from Gran Turismo to real world becomes most obvious. Jann, the GT Academy winner who drove Le Mans for six hours, wouldn't have been able to do so without being in peak physical condition.

The real race simulator against Gran Turismo

Finally, it was time to drive the simulator. This consisted of the shell of a F1 car, a full race steering wheel and pedals taken from a GT3 car and a huge screen and speakers to simulate driving on a track.

While it might not have come close to Gran Turismo 6 graphically, the feel and controls of this simulator was as close as it gets to real life. Interestingly, having been the slowest on the track during the day, we were quickest in the simulator.

(Video) I Drove My Childhood Favorite Racing Game In Real Life

Clearly there was some untapped racing potential and fresh from all our digital training, we were keen to show it. Nissan took us out again in the 370z and we got even quicker. We managed to shave another .03 off our lap time, before finally letting the side down.

It's a similar feeling to the moment when you crash after a four-hour Gran Turismo endurance stint, but 'overdriving', or pushing too hard, means that you make mistakes. Trying to get faster in real life saw us eventually making more errors than we had during our quickest lap previously.

A step back and an attempt to get into 'the zone' followed, and we went for one more attack on the track. It was all going well. Rapid gear shifts, foot pinned flat to the floor at every turn... In fact, it went so well that we drove far too quickly into a hairpin and understeered the car off the track. Vital seconds were lost, and our fastest lap scrapped.

So, which is harder?

In the end, we left feeling like we had learned a lot about the world of racing. The levels of respect we have for Nissan's GT Academy winners has increased dramatically. These guys are genuinely incredibly talented, turning virtual reality into real-world skill and beating some very experienced professional racing drivers along the way.

Do racing games match up to real life? (2)

It's also obvious that without the digital world, really mastering driving is extremely difficult. In a world where hundredths of a second matter, Nissan's vast amount of training technology is absolutely vital.

The bottom line is, Gran Turismo is an incredible technical achievement - but just because you might be good at a game, it doesn't mean you can replicate the same thing in real life. It takes practice, focus and access to the latest in technology. Nissan's GT Academy winners seem to have all that, and we can't say we aren't a little bit jealous.

(Video) Mario Kart In Real Life

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Can racing games make you faster in real life? ›

So yes, racing games can make you faster than you were. But if you want to go about setting lap records at the Buddh International Circuit, you need real life practice. But with technology improving by the minute, you never know what's around the corner.

Do racing simulators feel real? ›

Overall the tracks feel incredibly real though. Another big development in track realism for sims came when they started to incorporate the ability to lock your view to the angle of the track instead of the car. This has become known as horizon locking.

Do driving games help with real driving? ›

But several studies have shown that playing video games can increase reaction time in players, which may contribute to better awareness and reaction time behind the wheel. This is a vital skill for pro drivers who need to set up for every corner in order to exit as quickly and cleanly as possible.

What racing game has the most realistic driving? ›

Our research found that 2021's Forza Horizon 5 has the most realistic depiction of real-life cars in video games, according to brake horsepower (bhp).

Can racing games teach you how do you drive? ›

The good news is that playing car games helps young drivers develop their concentration skills and faster reaction times. Although weekly sessions with an instructor build necessary driving skills, daily gaming can refine them.

How realistic is real racing? ›

Real Racing 3 is realistic in some aspects as the cars damage is not realistic as i have hit walls runing 130 and the car bounces off as if it hit a wall of rubber and very little damage. Other aspect of the game are off as the cars seam to slide & drift easy.

How does sim racing compare to real life? ›

Now, most of the circuits these days for sim racing have been laser scanned, which means that they're accurate down to one or two millimetres on the circuit and it means that all the curves, all the bumps, all the cambers as you come into the corner are all exactly as they are on the real-life circuit, which is just ...

What is the most realistic simulator in the world? ›

The Most Realistic Simulator Games
  • Arma 3. This offshoot of the DayZ Arma zombie hunt deserves much more attention for the world. ...
  • PowerWash Sim. We warned you we looked at some pretty eccentric options for this list. ...
  • 888 Poker. ...
  • Cooking Simulator. ...
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator. ...
  • The Sims 4. ...
  • Planet Coaster. ...
  • Silent Hunter 3.
Oct 26, 2022

Is a racing wheel realistic? ›

If you're serious about realism, a racing wheel is absolutely worth it. When you're playing driving games with a wheel you can start to develop skills that will help you in real life. You can't do that with a normal controller.

Do racing games improve focus? ›

While racing games should not be the only lesson to drive on the road, it could be helpful, as it makes it easier when you start real-life training. Car racing makes you focus on more than one thing at a time, which helps you multitask and over time, your level of concentration and focus is being improved.

Are racing games good for your brain? ›

High-speed racing with close competition a few times each week can train your brain to decrease signalling that causes increases in adrenaline, sweat and heart rate. In turn, you will be better able to control yourself in other real world stressful situations.

Do racing simulators help with driving? ›

But they can stay focused with a simulator's help to prepare for their next race. Race simulators are incredibly effective in helping drivers keep their mental focus and give them an opportunity to fine-tune their visualisation skills and muscle memory.

What is considered the best racing game of all time? ›

These are the 50 best driving games of all time
  • Daytona USA - Arcade (1993) ...
  • Burnout 3: Takedown - PlayStation 2, Xbox (2004) ...
  • Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox and PC (2018) ...
  • Out Run - Arcade (1986) ...
  • Super Mario Kart - SNES (1993) ...
  • Sega Rally Championship - Arcade (1994) ...
  • Gran Turismo - Sony PlayStation (1998)

Is city car driving realistic? ›

City Car Driving is a realistic driving simulator that will help you to master the basic skills of car driving in different road conditions, immersing in an environment as close as possible to real.

Does car racing take skill? ›

It takes a lot of hard work to become a racecar driver for competitive events like NASCAR, Formula One, or newer Formula E races. In order to make it to the top in professional racing, drivers hone their skills over a lifetime full of learning, training, and dedication.

Do gamers have better driving skills? ›

The most common conclusion we could find was that frequent players of first-person shooters (FPS) and racing simulators could make clear and concise decisions faster than those with little to no videogame experience. This suggests they are capable of reading and reacting to an emerging hazard faster than a non-gamer.

What game it teaches you to drive? ›

1. Best Driving Simulator for Beginners: Forza Motorsport 7. If you are looking for a car driving simulator that will get you to grips with the very basics of driving on the road, then the latest installment from the hit racing series Forza Motorsport is the ideal starting point.

Do street races actually happen? ›

Those races are unrealistic and dramatize street racing, but that doesn't mean that street racing doesn't occur in real life. Street racing can still be seen on American roads today, despite its illegality, and it's becoming more of a problem.

Is the speed on the car accurate? ›

A speedo must never show less than the actual speed, and must never show more than 110% of actual speed + 6.25mph. So if your true speed is 40mph, your speedo could legally be reading up to 50.25mph but never less than 40mph.

How realistic is driving to survive? ›

It featured storylines that were portrayed as controversial, but the reality of those incidents was far from the truth. Rivalries that didn't exist were dramatized for the sake of entertainment. Netflix: Drive To Survive began to evolve from a documentary series to an entertainment series.

Is racing a real sport? ›

To Recap. Yes, car racing is a sport. It's an intense physical and mental challenge that requires skill, bravery, and determination. There are many different types of cars in racing, from small roadsters to high-performance racecars.

Is iRacing the most realistic racing game? ›

iRacing has been quoted to have the best online play and realistic car physics, while its competitors, F1, Gran Turismo, and Assetto Corsa have all been downgraded for slipping too much and not having realistic vehicle physics. Even professional racers have praised iRacing on the game's physics.

How real is F1 simulator? ›

The simulator itself is designed to be as realistic as possible with the same chassis, cockpit, steering wheel and pedals as the car itself, and drivers will often run in full race kit to really immerse themselves in the experience.

What simulator does NASA use? ›

Housed at NASA Ames Research Center, the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) complex provides researchers with a suite of sophisticated tools to explore, define and solve issues in both aircraft and spacecraft design.

What game is most like real life? ›

So, here are the most realistic games to ever be released:
  1. Ghost of Tsushima. IGN. ...
  2. Red Dead Redemption II. Rockstar Games. ...
  3. Call of Duty Mobile. Call of Duty: Mobile. ...
  4. GTA V. ...
  5. Death Stranding. ...
  6. Control. ...
  7. Cyberpunk 2077. ...
  8. The Last of Us: Part Two.
Aug 3, 2022

Is there a game that simulation real life? ›

Real Life Simulator will be a Simulation and Role Playing game. In this game you will be able to spend time in an imaginary world with real people online. You can come out of the real world and shape your character's life in an imaginary world.

How much does a real F1 wheel cost? ›

Calculating the car cost

For example, the steering wheel, which has been an entire computer for a long time, is priced at $50,000, a set of wings (front and rear) around $200,000 dollars, depending on their complexity.

Is it easier to play racing games with a wheel? ›

Easing on the brakes and making sure you don't go smashing into barriers on tight turns also feels much more natural using the wheel. It gives just enough push back to what you try to do to feel like you're driving a real car.

Is a racing wheel easier than controller? ›

That is one of the reasons why a large majority of the professional eSports gamers use racing wheels on games like F1 2021 as they can usually make minor adjustments far easier compared to when using a controller.

Do gamers think faster? ›

The gamers did as well as the non-gamers on that test, but were faster. At all levels of the game, and especially the difficult levels, the gamers answered more quickly. When both groups of men were asked to do a simple test based on sounds, the results were the same.

Are people with ADHD better at FPS games? ›

The good news is that for those impaired by distraction, there are tools out there that can help you with your gaming (and life) skills. “ADHD is superb with first-person shooter games that require quick response times.

Are racing games healthy? ›

Though they are generally wholesome and fun, racing games can be a problem if consumed in massive doses. If your child is doing little more than playing racing games, he will get a very limited benefit, as they present just a narrow set of cognitive challenges.

Are racing games addictive? ›

As with these kind of games, one of the most addictive things about them is working your way through it.

What game make your brain smarter? ›

Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. You can sign up for a free account to play three games per day, or choose the subscription service for more offerings. Either way, you can keep track of your results and improvement.

Can I learn driving using simulator? ›

A driving simulator can help individuals practice & master various vehicle controls such as steering, gears, and pedals, etc. Using a driving simulator, individuals can deal with various potential risks and pressure that can occur while real-time driving on the road following the necessary traffic rules.

Can you learn racing on a simulator? ›

Sim racing has also become a standard for pro motorsport teams. Training in simulators is a great way for professionals to do hundreds of laps on certain tracks, as well as practice advanced driving techniques in a completely safe environment.

Is racing simulator worth? ›

If you're serious about sim racing -- and especially if you're looking to supplement or transition to real-world racing -- then a sim racing cockpit is definitely worth it. However, a good racing rig may not be worth the investment for more casual players interested primarily in arcade racers.

What is the #1 game ever? ›

The best-selling video game to date is Minecraft, a sandbox game released by Mojang in May 2009 for a wide range of PC, mobile and console platforms, selling more than 238 million copies across all platforms.

Which sport is the hardest in racing? ›

Open-wheel racing, like Formula 1 or IndyCar racing, is often considered the most difficult and requires exceptionally skilled drivers worldwide. Formula 1 racing is called the pinnacle of driving. Millions of dollars are invested in Formula 1 cars, and their drivers are some of the best in the world.

What is the number 1 best game? ›

1. PUBG. PUBG is the most popular online game in 2022, with a huge fan following. Inspired by armor and H1Z1, PUBG has swept the internet and now has more than 100 million players.

How fast can I learn to drive? ›

The majority need 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of practice. If you want to learn to drive in a year, you should spend at least 6 hours a month learning. But this is just a standard. Some people will need more lessons, while others may need fewer.

Are self driving cars real? ›

According to Honda and a few other reputable sites, the Honda 100 Legend Flagship car is the first Level 3 autonomous car. Right now, it's only available in Japan for leasing. It was released in 2021.

Does the car you drive really matter? ›

Your vehicle does really make an impression on your clients. The kind of car you drive doesn't matter near as much as the condition of the car. Make sure your car is clean inside and out, address mechanical issues, and keep up with maintenance.

What is the most successful car game? ›

The Best Racing Games: all the best driving games on Xbox, PlayStation and PC in 2023
  • F1 2021. F1 2021. Credit: Codemasters. ...
  • Gran Turismo Sport. Gran Turismo Sport Credit: Sony. ...
  • iRacing. iRacing Credit: ...
  • Wreckfest. Credit: THQ Nordic. ...
  • SnowRunner. ShowRunner.
Jan 20, 2023

What is the longest racing game? ›

Longest Sim Race of All Time

The game they used was Forza 6 and the feat was accomplished at a Ford-organised event in Cologne. In the process, the drivers clocked up over 3,000 laps of the circuit, which is equivalent to driving the entire Earth's circumference, and then a bit more!

How can I be faster in real life? ›

8 Running Tips That Show How to Get Faster
  1. Lose Weight.
  2. Focus on Core Strength.
  3. Optimize Your Breathing.
  4. Clean Up Your Diet.
  5. Warm Up to Run Faster.
  6. Practice Intensity With A Plyometric Workout.
  7. Train Your Hips To Increase Power Output.
  8. Run Faster To Get Faster.
Sep 26, 2020

How can I run faster in real life? ›

General tips
  1. Warm up and cool down. Start each workout with a warmup and finish with a cooldown. ...
  2. Eat well. Your diet plays a role in your running performance, especially the foods you eat right before you run. ...
  3. Hydrate. ...
  4. Maintain a moderate body weight. ...
  5. Perfect your technique. ...
  6. New kicks. ...
  7. Dress the part. ...
  8. Strength training.
Jan 9, 2020

Can video games increase processing speed? ›

Researchers Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green have demonstrated that playing action-based video games can improve processing speed. Torkel Klingberg has shown that consistent use of adaptive video games improves working memory skills and alters brain structure.

What are the benefits of playing racing games? ›

8 Ways Racing Games Give You A Powerful Brain Boost
  • Stress reduction. Racing games are typically non-violent, and they can calm stress in a few different ways. ...
  • Information gathering. ...
  • Concentration and focus. ...
  • Memory. ...
  • Decision making. ...
  • Strategy and problem solving. ...
  • Coordination. ...
  • Long-term wellbeing.

Can a slow person become fast? ›

There are ways to train specific muscle types: sprints, weight training and high intensity interval training will help develop fast-twitch fibers and cardio (especially long distance runs) will help develop slow-twitch muscle fibers. But anyone can increase their speed, no matter what their genetics.

What muscles make you run faster? ›


Located in the back of the thigh, the hamstrings are a two-joint muscle that extend the hip and control the leg. They are responsible for force production in the push-off phase. If you want to run faster or sprint efficiently, strong hamstrings are a necessity.

Does losing weight help you run faster? ›

Will I run faster if I lose weight? Experts have found that you can run about two seconds faster per mile for every pound that you lose. That can really add up if you think about shedding 10+ pounds and running long-distance races.

Are humans getting faster at running? ›

A Faster Human: Are We Unique In Our Ability To Get Better? : The Two-Way For decades, the speed of racehorses and dogs has stagnated. But humans keep getting faster. On the 60th anniversary of the first time a human ran a mile in under 4 minutes, we ponder why.

Can you force yourself to run faster? ›

To run faster, you should incorporate speed workouts like tempo runs and fartleks. You can also try weight training and hill runs to improve your speed. Overall, to become a faster and stronger runner, it's important to stay consistent with your training schedule.

Can everyone run faster? ›

There's a common misconception that being a 'fast runner' comes down to genetics. However, as former professional basketballer, runner and athlete Montana Farrah-Seaton explains, with the right training program, anyone can up the ante on their pace.

Do gamers have faster reflexes? ›

The results showed that gamers who completed a video-games questionnaire before performing the tasks had faster reaction times (RTs) in the Simon task compared with gamers who answered the questionnaire after performing the tasks.

How do fast paced video games affect the brain? ›

Another study found that people who played action-based video games had better short-term memory and attention span than those who played non-action games. The fast-paced nature of action games seems to help improve our ability to process information quickly and efficiently.

How do video games improve brain speed? ›

Increases brain matter

Much research has been done to show that video games impact brain plasticity (your brain's ability to change in response to learning) through the use of attentional control and reward processing.

Do racing games help brain? ›

Both types of car games can help kids become flexible in their thinking. Racing games require players to react appropriately to novel situations, make quick decisions, determine the best path of action to take, and learn to avoid obstacles. Car-racing games also require working-memory skills.

Why do people enjoy racing? ›

One of these is the adrenaline rush that comes with watching high-speed vehicles race. Besides being able to watch the action, fans also get to interact with the large crowd of buffs and it is very social. Besides being entertaining, professional race drivers give people a reason to love the sport.


1. How Realistic is Sim Racing?
2. Turning My Car Into a Racing Simulator
3. I Love Racing Games, They Suck!
4. At First He Just a Racing Game Pro Player But In The End He Became a Real Pro Racer
(StoryLine Movie)
5. Line Rider Race - Who will survive?
6. The Decline of Racing Games
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