Playstation Generation?

I’m really looking forward to seeing some more Drifting and UK Time Attack this year. These two sports originated in Japan and have been growing rapidly in popularity over the last few years. The nature of this worldwide growth got me thinking.

I’m in my mid 20s and as a result I’ve grown up with the Gran Turismo games on Playstation and latterly Forza Motorsport on Xbox. I’m from a generation of videogame driving fans that can instantly identify the difference between an S13, 14 or 15 Nissan Sylvia or can name several  Japanese tuning houses even without any prompting. It’s an immersion in Japanese car culture that people like me have now had for over 10 years. Kids have spent 100s of hours tuning, prepping and racing their cars to compete in the events that the games offer.

Drifting and Time Attack are ‘tuner sports’ with a style all of thier own. Both require modifications to factory spec road cars for thier chosen purpose. With drifting, set up is key, you don’t need a million bhp to light up the rears, you do need a  predictable torque curve and finely tuned suspension. With Time Attack you seemingly do need to go mental on the power as well as a trick setup, as the top guys ably demonstrate. Has our exposure to Japanese car culture in games lead to us being interested in that kind of motorsport now we’re old enough to go out and spectate or compete ourselves?

This is our chance to see the real cars, similar to the ones in our Gran Turismo garages being tuned to the hilt and put through their paces. The languages of car tuning and car setup are intrinsic to these games and events, camber, castor, spring rate, ride height, final drive, high lift cams, balanced crankshafts, these are all terms that we are now familiar with. We may not have understood it all when we first ventured in to the upgrade shop in Gran Turismo 1, but that was released 12 years ago. There’s been regular iterations of the franchise ever since, the technical stuff must have sunk in along the way.

Maybe I’m looking at it in isolation, there’s probably other factors at work as well, the proliferation of videos and the like over the internet in the last 10 years has revolutionised how events are promoted. I grew up following rallying, mainly through my dad, so my world was Astra GTEs and Sierra Cosworths.  Personally speaking, before Gran Turismo 1, I’d never heard of a ‘Skyline’ or an ‘AE86’, but look at how much of a cult following those cars have now.  I dare say this is no different to kids in the 60s playing with Dinky toys then going on to compete in Escorts and Sunbeams once they grew up. I just think it’s cool that Drifting, Time Attack and other developing car cultures are being propagated around the world by the games that portray them.

The British Drift Championship begins at Silverstone on 10th & 11th April as part of the International Style & Tuning Show (ISTS)

The UK Time Attack Series opens at Oulton Park on the 24th April as part of Modified Live


One Response to “Playstation Generation?”

  1. Phil Roberts Says:

    Great write up.

    If it was not for the early games in this series my general knowledge of the Japanese market cars would be very different.

    Tommy Kaira, Mines, and the other various OEM tuning areas such as TRD and Ralliart, if it was not for the GT series I don’t think I would have gained the exposure of this at the age of 11/12.

    Whereas at the age of 3, I grew up watching videos of the Manx rally from 1988 with Jimmy McRae driving a whale tail Sierra Cosworth or touring car races with E30 BMW M3’s and Sierra’s, this game really gave an insight to what were, and are cult cars in Japan before the scene became more popular in the West. People in their teens and early 20’s now know what a Corolla AE86 is or a Hokosuka Skyline, and the GT series has helped with the exposure of these vehicles no end.

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