The Moment I Discovered Why People Play Gran Turismo


I am nowhere close to being a gaerhead or other kind of car nut. I’m pretty sure I care about cars far less than most men. To me they just get me from point A to point B with varying degrees of luxury. That doesn’t mean I don’t play racing games at all (which I left out of my GOTY category post last week) — I can find a few games to enjoy in pretty much any genre, but I don’t get deep enough into racing to justify buying a Gran Turismo game. That said, during a rental of Gran Turismo 6 last month I glimpsed but for a brief moment what that game is all about, and maybe you can too regardless of how “into racing simulators” you are.

I don’t know if this is normal for hardcore racing games, but GT6 starts you out racing in regular consumer cars — the kind of car you or I might actually own, like a Honda Fit for instance. This might be a bit boring in contrast with letting you immediately crash a Ferrari and letting you learn from there, but it has an affect that’s two fold.

Most obviously, racing more modest cars is probably easier, thus making the game more approachable for newcomers. This way, by the time you do end up in a supercar you at least have a decent grasp on the fundamentals of race car driving and can at least keep that Ferrari on the road. The other effect though is that it creates contrast between the feel of each class of car, letting you actually appreciate the difference between driving your Honda Civic and driving a BMW Z8.

You see, after doing some novice races, GT6 invites you to an event where you get at taste of some sports cars on a time trial course. After driving that Honda fit the difference was immediate and shocking, particularly with the KTM X-Bow.

The first time I hit the gas and heard the engine I said “oh shit,” as I thought this car was gonna eat me alive. The immediacy with which it sped off and responded to my controls felt like being strapped onto the back of an unruly beast. I spent my whole first run just trying to stay on the road, with actually posting a time a distant second objective. After a few more runs though, I eventually started to learn, if even only a little bit.

I eventually learned that in order to tame these things you gotta respect them, but to post good times and see their potential, you also can’t be afraid of them. Oh I left the driving line assist on, but I stopped treating it as gospel and used it as more of a guide. As I began to take more risks on turns I realized the driving line drastically underestimates the turning ability of what you might be driving. Pretty soon I was barreling around corners, barely tapping the breaks and actively trying to get over my fear of pushing it to the edge.

Usually I hate the kind of game where I end up trying the exact same task repeatedly, but for some reason I tried that track probably dozens of times trying to beat the CPU-set best time. I couldn’t get it but I did get within half a second of it. The reason I kept trying was because I’d started to enjoy the feel of that car compared to what I’d been driving in the beginner races.

While Forza 5 pushes forward its “Drivatar” and other features meant to enhance the experience of racing, GT6 really does want to primarily be more about simulating driving than simulating racing. It’s about accurately recreating the feel of hundreds of different cars because let’s face it, the chances of me ever driving an actual X-Bow on a race track are pretty slim.

After that little aside I’d earned enough in-game credits to try to buy a faster car for upcoming races. The recommended cars section is a great addition but I found it to be a bit limited compared to what I already had, so I checked the general dealership section and was floored by the massive selection. Maybe GT6 could use a search feature based on PP (I don’t want what that stands for but it’s pretty important), price, and horsepower? Anyway, that’s where I reached my limit for GT6.

Taking that experience and putting it up against the absolute mountain of content I know is in GT6 reveals just how much time I could end up spending on this game if I ever decided to devote myself to it. If I had the time and not so many other games on my plate I could possibly see myself buying GT6 and a steering wheel, or some other racing sim.


  • Man. Look at the top 10 paid games on Japan’s Apple App Store. Now compare that to ones in a western territory. The former is made up of considerably more premium games.
  • The guy who illustrated the Sonic 2 box art and many others has passed away.
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2 thoughts on “The Moment I Discovered Why People Play Gran Turismo

  1. Forza is the better game, though, because of the better-curated car list. And let’s be honest, though, I play video games for the fantasy aspect, not the reality aspect. I’m never going to be able to own a Koeingsegg Agera R or McLaren F1, so give me those. I own a Fiat 500 Sport, I can go out for a joyride if I want to without having to boot up a game.

    Unless it’s an Abarth, then I’ll sim that little hot hatch.

  2. Oh, and Project CARS from Slightly Mad Studios will blow your mind when it comes out next year.

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