Examining the Historical Firmaments of Racing as a New Gaming Standard

Examining the Historical Firmaments of Racing as a New Gaming Standard

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 21st Jun 2012

Gran Turismo 5

In the world of video games and video gaming it can safely be said that there has never been a better time to be both alive and an active member of the gaming community than today; strictly from a technology point-of-view there has never been as good a time to be a gamer than today, with the amazing power and strength of Sony's PlayStation 3 platform, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Nintendo's Wii -- and no matter how many games journos declare the death of PC gaming, the reality is simply that the Personal Computer as a gaming platform is never going to die.

Like rumors of the death of iconic Hollywood legends, the nature of the PC and its fascination with respect to its underlying tech is such that every 16-to-18 months we can reliably expect to see a major tech revision and new CPU and Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) standard, which naturally results in the declaration of a new gaming standard for the PC and another round of killer gaming systems being spec'd out, and so it goes and always has gone, as that is the nature of the beast.

Any proper history of Video Games naturally dates back to the 1940's, when Thomas Goldsmith and Ray Mann filed a US Patent request covering their invention of "cathode ray tube amusement device" that turned out to be about as modest an application of display technology as one might imagine -- and as it was, served as the silent shot that resulted in the birth, some twenty-odd years later, of more than a dozen separate and distinct gaming companies that would come to be known collectively as the gaming industry and most of which remain with us today, as authoritative members of that industry.

While that industry was not destined to attain mainstream popularity until the and of the 1970's and the early 1980's -- when arcade video game tech came into its own -- the establishment of arcade gaming as a foundation of the industry, followed by the advent of home computer games via console and the Personal Computer, the reality is that video games and video gaming has become as popular a form of entertainment as the motion picture and music industries -- and even at the highest of highs and lowest of lows, the cultural significance of games and gaming and, concealed within the natural power-base of the original six genres -- at the top of the heap just above action-adventure and role-playing is the firmly seated King of gaming: Auto Racing.

In fact as a major element of the Simulation Genre, the powerful draw that auto racing has and that causes every gamer, no matter how committed they happen to be to one of the other genres, willingly puts them behind the wheel of their favorite model of car, truck, motorcycle, or other racing beastie -- and they wouldn't have it any other way!

The introduction and reveal of Forza: Horizons at E3 2012 served as a first-look for many of the games journos covering the event, with the official E3 game trailer (embedded above) being the first impression formed when it was offered at Microsoft's Pre-E3 Press Briefing...

The Battle of Platforms: Gran Turismo vs. Forza Motorsports

It may seem premature from a historical perspective, especially considering the recently established position on the PC gaming platform for iRacing as the newest member of the genre, but there is ample evidence to suggest that the lock that has traditionally existed between Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 through the iconic racing games Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsports (respectively) may be weakening -- especially as new titles and new approaches in racing tech chip away at the franchise-style of games that has come to dominate the environment.

The pattern of brand loyalty that gamers show for the two historically dominate games in the racing genre is often through to be an extension of the perennial struggle that has maintained between Sony and Microsoft solidly since the launch of the last (7th) gaming platform generation -- but that actually has existed to some extent since the launch of the 5th generation (though Microsoft's role began with the release of its original Xbox console as part of the 6th generation). Prior to Microsoft's entry into the battle for platform supremacy the battle between racing franchises tended to focus upon titles on Nintendo's platforms (NES, SNES, FamiCom, GameCube, and N64) and a combination of the NeoGeo, Jaguar, 3DO, and Saturn. The shakeout finally settled down to a more predictable and well-defined battle with the introduction of Sony's PlayStation line, Microsoft's Xbox line, and Nintendo's Wii line, helped along by the death of SEGA and Atari, who in the process of admitting defeat in the hardware (platform) realm withdrew to their more traditional role in game development and publishing.