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Gran Turismo Gamer Becomes Pro Race Driver 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the practice-makes-profession dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in 2008, Lucas Ordonez lived what seemed like an ordinary existence. The 22-year-old Spanish student was an avid motorsports fan, but he lacked the suitable investment necessary to become a professional race driver and had virtually given up on racing. Besides, he was already knee-deep in trying to complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA). But it was Ordonez' passion for virtual racing, particularly his love of Gran Turismo, that made him stand out from his peers — both off the track and eventually on it. In just a few months, Ordonez' life was transformed from console dreamer to racing the real thing at a real race track in Europe. And Ordonez managed to do the unthinkable: go from the couch car to the race car, and win."


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Gran Turismo Gamer Becomes Pro Race Driver

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  • by structengineer (1663069) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:33PM (#30326756)
    Nah, I think it's actually opposite. The gamer knows in the back of his mind that the game is just a game . . . when he switches to the real thing he'll tend to be more cautious, due to the "oh $#!7" factor . . . When you're used to driving around a POS and thrashing it, and suddenly get put into someone else's Ferrari, you're going to be extra cautious.
  • Racing Simulators (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jzarling (600712) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:43PM (#30326870)
    There are a number of racing simulators out there that (if the promo copy id to be believed) are supposed to help you with your skills.
    I have thought about giving [] a try, but just haven't had the time off lately to justify getting a membership.
  • Re:Oh God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MattGWU (86623) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:44PM (#30326892)

    Second Life architects!

    "The winning design was eventually built in Chicago. The 200x400 meter building was 32 meters tall, had three levels, no windows (a bold choice!), no visible internal load-bearing structure, and no stairs because winning architect HeyBaby4U Lauterbrunnen decided 'they take up too many prims, and really, you just fly up anyway, so who cares?' A rotating 10x10x10 cube, which glows day and night while hovering over the building announced to the world that 'VIP Strip Club and Mall and Escort Service' is open for business! Space is available to rent for sixteen cents a day."

    Guess racing is easier to pick up from a game, especially one with good physics (and, one would hope, good damage modeling!) I've designed a nice looking building or two for SL, and mine even had plausible-looking (looking!) load-bearing structure for the big open parts everybody seems so fond of (camera angles and the fact that the average avatar is about seven and a half feet tall have interesting effects on pragmatic architecture in SL), but never a self-congratulatory 'you know? I could do this for REAL!' moment!

    Works the other way, though: I know real architects and jewelery designers who create products in the game.

    Oh, also made a 430-some prim replica of an Audi R10 three years ago (before sculpted prims, I hasten to add), but never scripted it to drive, so no Le Mans for me, sadly :(

  • by ThogScully (589935) <> on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:50PM (#30326994) Homepage

    And I came in last and nearly last, respectively, in both competitions. Having never played GT, now I know why. ;-)
    -N (#28 FSP)

  • by germansausage (682057) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:51PM (#30327010)
    No, not the one where some guy sneers "Why don't you man up and get a real guitar instead of playing with a plastic toy."

    I actually did start learning to play a real guitar after playing guitar hero. What inspired me was not the thought that a real guitar would be cool (I already knew that). What I learned from guitar hero was that even though I sucked horribly at it at first, after about three months of playing just about every night for a half hour, I was starting to get reasonably good at it. I am now practicing every night on a real guitar. I still suck horribly at it, but I now have the hope that with steady practice I will improve.
  • Re:It's different (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:52PM (#30327024) Journal
    Here is a more detailed video about the Williams simulator. [] They can not only train drivers, but test new equipment as well.
  • my son did this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spywhere (824072) on Friday December 04, 2009 @02:52PM (#30327042)
    ...with an M1A1 Abrahms tank. He was a hard-core FPS gamer, and he joined the Army at 18. They tested him to see what his skills were, which included a turn in the Army's tank simulator.
    As he tells it, he was in there a long time -- much longer than the recruits ahead of him had been. When he came out, the room was full of people, including officers, who were all staring at him.
    He asked, "What's everybody looking at?
    Someone replied, "A tanker, son... you just beat the highest score on that thing."

    For his expertise, he was rewarded with an all-expense-paid trip to Baghdad in 2003...
  • Re:It's different (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sleeping143 (1523137) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:02PM (#30327190)
    Gran Turismo is actually quite a good simulator. It might not be quite as accurate as the simulators Ferrari and McLaren use to keep their F1 drivers in form, but it really doesn't have to be. With the use of a force-feedback steering wheel, you can get very close to experiencing the real performance of a huge selection of cars in GT. The biggest difference, to me, between GT and actual racing is the level of exertion required. I get physically tired on track before I get mentally exhausted, but in GT4 I don't have to strain against cornering, braking, and acceleration force.
  • Re:It's different (Score:4, Interesting)

    by parcel (145162) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:04PM (#30327206)

    Driving a car in a videogame and driving a car in real life are very different, but the actual *racing* part is pretty similar. Controlling the car is important, but it's not what wins races. Racing is all about knowing the lines and racing techniques, and a video game can definitely teach you that.

    I think, at least to an extent, it helps with actual driving too. I've sunk at least a hundred hours into every GT game since GT1 (before I even had a learner's permit). On three occasions I've had to make emergency reactions while driving in real life where - I don't know quite how to put it into words - everything just felt smooth and practiced.

    Two things especially, scaling reaction to speed of travel and turning into a fishtail, are things that I think feel natural from all the time in GT. I just fortunately haven't had many "practice" opportunities in real life, so I figure I must have learned from the games.

    I use a wheel & pedals instead of a controller, too, which maybe helps the simulation value.

  • Re:Top Gear Anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jggimi (1279324) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:23PM (#30327446)
    Yes, here's a compressed (10 min) version of the Top Gear segment from Laguna Seca posted to youtube [] comparing the real vehicle and track to the virtual vehicle and track.

    Real gee forces, anyone? Real surfaces, real suspensions and tires? Fascinating segment.

  • this means nothing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:32PM (#30327578)

    The US Armed forces have a history of loving "war games" and they're largely dog and pony shows. In more than one case, the US forces playing the "enemy" side, if they defeated the "friendly" side, had their capabilities reduced and the game re-run until the friendly side won. In one case, they finally had to strip the enemy commander of his radio communications. So he used runners- civil war technology. He still won.

    The fact that the "simulator" actually had a high score leads me to strongly believe that it wasn't a real simulator. Video games have high scores. Simulators are there to provide an environment for evaluation (usually by a very experienced human, not a computer.) I suspect the game is merely designed to expose recruits to all the fun stuff (shooting the baddies) but none of the bad stuff (does the simulator include diesel smoke, deafening noise, etc?) and see how interested/driven they are. The more driven you seem to be, the less they have to grease the wheels to get you to sign up.

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by genner (694963) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:35PM (#30327622)
    Half the racers in the BMW CCCA own a PS3 loaded with Grand Turismo.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday December 04, 2009 @04:09PM (#30328062)

    I realize Sony loves gushing over Gran Turismo's purported realism, especially considering how long it's taking to get the game to market. But pretty much any good racing game will produce the same results. I recall reading a few years back about how Formula 1 drivers would sometimes play some F1 game, I forget which one, to better familiarize themselves with the courses.

    And for a game trumpeted as the "real" driving simulator it's quite a number of quirks in it's physics engine. Well, judging from GT5 Prologue which fundamentally feels like the previous games in the series. And based on gameplay videos GT5 doesn't look like it will be all that different. This means collisions will still be poorly handled, cars will be incapable of going airborne. Suspension and handling never felt all that convincing either. In professional mode, with all the assists turned off it's always felt like the cars are all driving around on winter tires. And then to compensate for the quirks they have to do things like add these obnoxious time penalties.

    I had the opportunity to play Forza 3 recently and found that game to provide a far more fulfilling and convincing driving experience. But the game I've played in recent years that I've found to be most true to life is Live for Speed. Those guys have even managed to account for tire flex, which is really cool. The things that hurt that game are the lack of real, compelling cars and the somewhat outdated graphics. Nevertheless, if I were going to recommend a game that would provide the most authentic driving experience, that would be the one.

    GT5 certainly does have the nicest graphics, and the largest lineup of cars. Although there are some very glaring omissions like Porsche. It's inexcusable that other developers can manage to get Porsches in their game but a developer with the weight of Sony behind them is incapable of doing the same.

    I have no patience whatsoever for arcade racers so GT5 still appeals to me from that standpoint. Unfortunately, I suspect the bulk of the time was spent rendering the several dozen Daihatsu's in painstaking detail as opposed to making real improvements to the physics engine. Even vehicle damage seems to consist of nothing more than bumpers falling off and doors unrealistically flying open. But unfortunately I don't think the payoff is going to justify the excessive amount of time spent developing the game. It would probably make more sense to tout the game as an automotive encyclopedia.

    Ultimately, I don't doubt at all that any good, realistic game provides some level of benefit in the real world. I would definitely exclude most of EA's racing games from that list. And this isn't a guarantee at all. There's a lot that requires experience in a real car. And there are plenty of kids out there for whom driving games have been no help at all.

  • by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Friday December 04, 2009 @04:24PM (#30328270) Homepage Journal

    The army and navy proved this fact already, they use video games as teaching tools, for helping in the development of their soldiers.
    Too much money would be spent on tactical environments that duplicate the battle field, never mind also the fact their can always be accidents in training exercises, so they prefer to stimulate the nervous system to these types of situations through virtual means.

    The next step to this military style tactic, is to include visors and command gloves that are able to actually help the user with the scenario. If he is about to whip out a hand grenade and say throw it improperly, which in a game is always done by the machine representing the gamer...then glove would capture slight hand movements that could falter the throw, hence make the grenade land a little too close and blow everybody up..."sort of thing"

    I am glad he was given a chance to drive even though he had no real background or experience, it shows there are a few people out there that are capable of seeing talent through other means then on the job training.