Virtual just got real: PH Blog

This is all a bit odd. I'm plunging down Quiddelbacher Hohe, bracing myself for the G-out at the bottom of the dip and making sure I've got my line sorted for the leap over the crest into Flugplatz. I know a dab of the brakes once the car has settled will get the car around the right-hander but the speed and narrow window of opportunity for doing so scares the hell out of me, even though I've done it hundreds of times. And there was that one in the F-Type when I was a little early on the brake pedal and the car was still unloaded. Meaning the ABS sent the pedal through the floor just as I REALLY needed to scrub off some speed. Still shudder at that one.

I'm not in Germany though. I'm in my living room, reaping the benefits of a recent switch to freelancing. And access to the beta test version of Gran Turismo Sport. Nothing could possibly go wrong with these two events coinciding. Nothing whatsoever.

Not reflective of Dan's 'ring experience
Not reflective of Dan's 'ring experience
So. Man lives out Nurburgring fantasies on games console. What's new here? Not a lot.

Only I'm not living out fantasies. I'm recalling actual memories. And this is the weird bit. There's a generation of virtual drivers with a forensic knowledge of every last inch of the Nordschleife, but who have never seen the actual track in their lives. The dangers of what happens to those who do are well documented. Like the friend-of-a-friend who span a 350Z on one of the scary fast left-handers on the way up Kesselchen "because it looked faster than that in Gran Turismo".

I've had an on-off and occasionally intense relationship with Gran Turismo over the years. Similar to that I've had with the real Nurburgring to be fair. Currently it's very much on with both and I'm attempting to re-learn the track for the game. But I realised the other night I'm kind of doing it the other way around from most, because I'm leaning on track knowledge amassed from real life and applying to the virtual representation. Not the other way around.

The boundaries are sufficiently blurred now that this is entirely possible, in both directions. Jann Mardenborough and other GT Academy winners have proven gaming talents can translate to a successful racing career in the real world. And at a slightly less glamorous level my Gran Turismo schooled knowledge of Tsukuba helped massively when I unexpectedly found myself racing there for real. And my pre-race warm-up at Polyphony's HQ ended up being to within tenths of my actual race pace.

Erm, neither is this!
Erm, neither is this!
Now it's the other way around though. In an attempt to keep pace with gamers who know the virtual Nordschleife far better than I do my knowledge of the real thing is really helping me. How many of my online rivals know instinctively you can straightline the kerbs through Wipperman? Or that pretty much every car understeers out of Brunnchen 2 but that lifting here is the worst possible response? OK, going by their scarcely believable lap times quite a few of them. Can they actually feel the dips, compressions and cornering forces in their stomachs like I do though?

What does this prove, other than having time on your hands and a games console is a dangerous combination? Well, all those years of driving to Germany, terrifying credit card bills, awful experiences in Belgian motorway service stations, endless steaks and beer in the Pistenklause and the company of a great bunch of blokes to share it with weren't entirely wasted. Because my living room is now a waft of stale Bitburger away from being a teleportation device direct to the 'ring.

Two things to draw from this. One, I need to get out more and start earning some money. Two, I may have to start pricing up ferry crossings. Because there's another itch to scratch.







Comments (18) Join the discussion on the forum

  • tosh.brice 27 Jun 2017

    Nice one, Dan, freelancing is obviously good for you!

  • Roma101 27 Jun 2017

    Is the game any good though?

  • Dan Trent 27 Jun 2017

    Thanks tosh.brice!

    And is the game any good? Once I can get through Tiergarten without crashing I'll let you know! Story for another day but it's got me playing games again, which is something I haven't done for a long time. Obviously I now need to do some INTENSIVE background on the rivals before I can rule categorically!



  • SturdyHSV 27 Jun 2017

    I assume you're playing with a wheel set-up? Give Assetto Corsa a go if you haven't already, it's not the most polished game, but handling wise it's probably the best you have access to on a console.

  • Evilex 27 Jun 2017

    Hmm. Gran Turismo Sport, Eh?
    I Won't be buying it, despite following the series since its inception.
    Quite simply, Polyphony Digital have insulted their customers with the continual delays associated with this product. It's literally years overdue.
    At one point, it had a release date, only to be pulled three weeks prior to it.
    I skimmed the article, and didn't see a revised release date. I'll wager it still doesn't have one.

    I won't be buying it because it's the only way I can meaningfully communicate my disappointment to the developers. No point in sending snotty emails and what-not. Just Voting with my feet. I sincerely hope that other similarly disenfranchised individuals do the same.


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