David Mor­ley

Motor (Australia) - - HOT SOURCE. FAST CAR GUIDE -

AT FIRST I THOUGHT I must have gone to sleep and wo­ken up on April 1. There just couldn’t have been any other ex­pla­na­tion for what I was see­ing on the TV. A group of young blokes who should have been out mak­ing ner­vous small talk with the girls in the front of­fice and bolt­ing cold-air in­takes to their V8s were sit­ting in rows of four, each row backto-back and each bloke sit­ting in front of a mon­i­tor. In­stead they were sit­ting in high-backed bucket seats and hold­ing a steer­ing wheel.

Sounds like a fun half hour in the lo­cal ar­cade, in be­tween chat-up ses­sions, doesn’t it? Yep, but guess what? This was be­ing taken very, very se­ri­ously by the com­men­ta­tors. Com­men­ta­tors? Yep, this was a tele­vised round of some go­daw­ful driv­ing-sim cham­pi­onship. Or some­thing like that. By now I was laugh­ing so hard I was cry­ing. And, no, you couldn’t make it up.

Now, there are a cou­ple of things wrong with this. The idea of tak­ing a video game se­ri­ously is whacko, just for starters. But then, to for­malise a cham­pi­onship where there are win­ners (not easy when the room ap­peared to be full of cap­i­tal-L losers) is se­ri­ously tak­ing the piss. Then there’s the con­cept of tele­vis­ing it com­plete with com­men­ta­tors. And fi­nally, there’s the hor­ri­ble mis­take of pre­sum­ing that I might be even re­motely in­ter­ested in watch­ing what amounts to a 21st cen­tury ver­sion of Dun­geons & Drag­ons.

Let’s get some­thing straight right from the off here. A driv­ing sim­u­la­tor is not ac­tu­ally any­thing like driv­ing. Un­less you’ve got the NASA-spec one with the 360-de­gree view and full gim­bal move­ment that can re­pro­duce ac­cel­er­a­tion, de­cel­er­a­tion and yaw forces, you might as well be sat at the kitchen ta­ble with your lap­top. Yes, yes, I know pro driv­ers use sim pro­grams to ‘learn’ tracks, but that’s more to do with mem­o­ris­ing a mind’s-eye map than try­ing to pre­dict a lap time or cal­cu­late fuel burn.

And yet, here we were, with the com­men­ta­tors breath­lessly re­port­ing on over­tak­ing moves and wheel­ing out the old faith­fuls about the high­horse­power cars stretch­ing their legs on the main straight. Memo to mi­cro­phone guys, there were no cars in­volved in this. There was no horse­power. The only ac­cel­er­a­tion was com­mon old grav­ity and that was only there to stop th­ese dweebs float­ing out of their seats and closer to me. The only move­ment was a bunch of elec­trons lap­ping a sil­i­con chip. That’s all. Over.

It’s about time the mil­len­ni­als got real. A mate of mine was telling me the other day that a col­league (in name only) of ours had told him all about the Nord­schleife and where speed could be gained and lost. In­ter­est­ing, replied my man, I’ve never been there my­self. Thing is, I didn’t know you’d been to the Nur­bur­gring. Oh, says Old Mate, I’ve done over a thou­sand laps of the joint. On my PlaySta­tion. Again, true story.

And this is how this lu­nacy gets a foothold. One minute, you have a gronk con­fus­ing a trip to Ger­many with sit­ting in his lounge­room in his jim-jams and a joy­stick, and the next thing you know, there’s a TV show where such delu­sional be­hav­iour is ac­tu­ally be­ing re­warded. Like I said, time to get real kids.

Now, I know that Nis­san has dipped into the gamer well and pulled out a few proper race driv­ers in re­cent years, so, ob­vi­ously, there’s some cross­over in the two skill sets. Re­flexes, judg­ment and haz­ard per­cep­tion most prob­a­bly. But ac­tual car feel is not one of them. Car feel is re­served for cars. Hence the name.

And here’s how I knew this must have been some glo­ri­ous piss-take. De­spite the fact that the only way to get burnt driv­ing a sim is if you’re watch­ing it on a Sam­sung Note 7, at least one of th­ese palookas was wear­ing – wait for it – Nomex gloves. I was laugh­ing so hard I al­most had to be re­sus­ci­tated.

“LET’S GET SOME­THING STRAIGHT RIGHT FROM THE OFF HERE. A DRIV­ING SIM­U­LA­TOR IS NOT AC­TU­ALLY ANY­THING LIKE DRIV­ING”

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