Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Racing Is Scary

We talk about racing games and how fun they are to drive fast and stuff.  Lest we forget that real-life racing that games are based off of can be fun but also very terrifying.  As someone who wants to drive cars as a hobby or a career, sometimes it can make you think twice.

Toshihiro Nagoshi, the producer of Daytona USA, said that he gave stock cars a shot because they are more suitable for "rubbing and racing," unlike the Formula 1 cars from Virtua Racing which seem to be the most fragile of all cars.  Wrecks are there to light a fire under your ass to not screw up.  Isn't the most important part of any race not to crash?  The notion of avoiding damage and cutting off other drivers is one of the facets that makes driving games fun and exciting.  If you do accrue damage, you ward it off and keep going.  It's there to make you play better.

It kind of reminds me of the movie Days of Thunder, except nobody gets hurt. By the end of that movie, the cars were so gray from being bashed and rubbed repeatedly.  I'm guessing Nagoshi watched this and was intrigued by it.

A running gag is that NASCAR fans only watch for the wrecks.  While wrecks can be fascinating, that;'s not the reason we watch.  In my opinion, car damage can be fun, but wrecking not so much.  Some games specifically sell on the basis of wrecking the car, mostly Burnout and Split/Second which is, to a certain extent, why I detest those games.  It's insulting to my intelligence to think that I enjoy watching carnage and the death of imaginary drivers over and over again.

Here's the feature presentation.  Wrecks in real-life.  Red concrete, whatever.  Fascinating, but in a bad way.  The only good that comes from this is that it forces cars to be equipped with more safety features.  These wrecks are old so you may not see stuff as devastating as this today.  Still we've come a long way so at least be appreciative...

Dale Earnhardt, Sr.:  Died during the 2001 Daytona 500.  Trailing in the final lap and trying to fend off faster cars, Sterling Martin rear-ended Dale which caused him to fly into the outer wall.  In what seemed like a standard wreck at first, he was pronounced dead at the scene because of trauma to the head, apparently by refusing to wear a proper headrest.  In the video, announcer Darrell Waltrip's son Michael goes on to the win the race.  What was a happy moment turned sour very quickly.

Gordon Smiley:  This is certainly one of the freakiest crashes you'll see.  While practicing for the Indianapolis 500 on May 15, 1982, he loses control of his car on the third turn.  Trying to correct his oversteer, he accidentally flings the car head-first into the outer wall at top speed.  His car explodes in a giant ball of fire as several compressed pieces of debris are flung from the wreckage.  There is an infinitesimal chance for him to survive.

Roger Williamson: During the GP Holland in 1973, rolls over and catches fire.  Despite the fact the race continued on, fellow driver David Purley stopped to help put out the fire and flip his car over.  Purley claims Williamson was alive uninjured and crying out for help but was pinned down in the unsatiable fire.  Two minutes later with little to no help, Purley was taken away from the wreck as his friend died of asphyxiation (lack of oxygen).  Purley was awared the British Imperial George Medal, the second highest medal that can ever be awarded to a civilian for bravery, but all the medals in the world couldn't save his friend's life.

I could go on--there's plenty of fatal wrecks on YouTube but I don't want to watch them.  It's tragic.

Case in point, wrecks are a part of the racing and life is as fragile as it seems.  I'm not saying take out the wrecks from games because if you crash head first into a wall at 200 mph, you should be punished somehow, but do it tastefully.  Focus more on good driving controls than the lure of watching a five-second replay of yourself exploding into a hundred pieces.  That's my take--I hope you learned something.

No comments:

Post a Comment