The International Automotive Federation, aka the FIA, has long shown strong support for the world of esports. Since 2017 for example, the FIA has been working with Polyphony Digital to hold an international esports competition based on the Gran Turismo Sport game. The competition which was directly under the FIA certification reached its peak in November 2018, and was won by a Brazilian player named Igor Fraga.
FIA is not the only automotive institution that supports the development of esports. Other organizations such as NASCAR, Nissan and McLaren have also shown similar interests. However, the FIA’s foray into esports is not merely following trends or seeking profit. According to them esports can be an integrated part of the world of car racing, even making it better. How so?
The bond between the world of real car racing (motorsport) and video games is a bond that is entwined slowly over more than two decades, and can not be separated from the role of Polyphony Digital. The company is the developer behind the Gran Turismo series, one of Sony’s flagship car racing games to date.
Since the first Gran Turismo was released in 1997, Polyphony Digital has always focused on one thing, namely realism. Unlike other car racing game series such as Ridge Racer or Need For Speed, Gran Turismo carries the tagline “The Real Driving Simulator”. The main attraction of this series lies in accurate physics simulations, licensed cars with the same design as the original, as well as complete and detailed tuning features.
The PS1 and PS2 console generation still has many limitations in achieving this vision of realism. But that has changed since the PS3 era. Video games are finally able to display a very tangible visual quality, also have enough computing capability to produce physics simulations optimally.
The Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3 is an important starting point for the relationship between video games and the world of motorsport. After the game was released, precisely in 2008, Polyphony Digital then collaborated with Nissan Europe to create a racer-specific education program via the video game medium. The program is called Nissan GT Academy (or NISMO PlayStation GT Academy).
Nissan GT Academy successfully demonstrated that video games can train a person to become a real racer, thanks to the high level of realism in Gran Turismo. Of course the racer needs adaptation when moving from the gamer seat to the original racing seat, but what is clear is that the potential really exists.
The distance between video games and the real world is getting narrower, and FIA as an organization in charge of the motorsport universe is not ignorant of this. “According to the federation (FIA), it’s clearly seen that people evolve with changing times,” said Stephane Fillastre, head of FIA licensing and merchandising affairs, as reported by Autosport. “We need an opportunity to recognize and certify video games as part of our portfolio. Because (video games) are a big part of the ecosystem (motorsport), a big part of the drivers’ lifestyle, so we clearly want to have that connection. “
Previously there were already several car racing games in collaboration with motorsport organizations, for example Codemasters who worked with Formula 1. But the FIA wanted to offer something more. They want to provide a platform that is certified and has regulations like FIA’s motorsport regulations.
Ulam beloved top arrived, the vision of the FIA is so great to meet with Polyphony Digital who already has 10 years experience at Nissan GT Academy. They also created a new program, the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championship. This program has a big difference from the Nissan GT Academy. If Nissan GT Academy aims to turn gamers into real racers, the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championship is a pure virtual racing program. In other words, an esports program.
“Ten years have passed since (the launch of GT Academy). And when we talk to competitors now, not all of them want to be real racers. Some of them want, but not all. And I think it’s good if there are other options, “said Kazunori Yamauchi, producer of the Gran Turismo series on Autosport.
This vision now creates a unique relationship between video games and motorsport. With esports programs such as the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championship, FIA and Polyphony Digital have raised the “caste” of video games to a position equivalent to motorsport. Not just a stepping stone, video game racing has now become something professional, as professional as motorsport.
The relationship between video games (also esports) with motorsport is quite unique. They have a closeness that is not in other sports. The reason, because driving a virtual car and driving an original car are two very similar things.