Opinion

Do Racing Games Improve Your Driving Abilities?

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Nearly every bonafide car enthusiast has come upon or started this fascination through racing or vehicle-oriented games. It is much more than a “gateway drug” that your parents and society, in general, think about them. Even when you are no longer a kid, it gets a seal of approval from enthusiasts no matter what your age I and why not, that excitement of building your dream car and waiting to race it down the streets of that imaginary town or going up the ranks of your competition to feel like Lewis Hamilton or Valentino Rossi themselves as you nail down championships after championships. Now we also have come to an age where driving simulators are also fast gaining popularity where you get comparatively simpler cars like 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser, and Chevy Silverado and learn about the dynamics of daily driving in an involved way.

Thie have been people on both ends of the opinion spectrum whether video games are good or bad for you. But taking a look at the scientific data and numerous TED talks, you will actually see that these video games have been proven to benefit the brain and its ability to coordinate with your body in more ways than you might think. Speaking of racing games specifically now, can driving a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser and 2021 Chevrolet Silverado across a screen actually help you become a better driver?

It’s all about visuomotor control

It was mentioned briefly about how these games can benefit the brain, and that is scientifically proven to be true. According to a study done by Psychological Science, people who spend their time behind the screen playing these racing or action games actually are shown to have greater visuomotor abilities than people who don’t spend their time playing games. This coordination of movement and visual perception by the brain, or in simple terms your hand-eye coordination will not only help you while driving but in other activities, you do on a day-to-day basis.


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The New York University Shanghai conducted an experiment under researcher Li Li where they let games play either Mario Kart or Roller Coaster Tycoon over a weekly time period of anywhere from five to ten hours for six weeks. They ultimately tested these players on a driving simulator to see just how much of a difference these gamers make from each group. After conducting, Li Li inferred that “Our research shows that playing easily accessible action video games for as little as 5 hours can be a cost-effective tool to help people improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving,”.

Testing driving abilities

Let’s come back to the aforementioned test; these participants are now tasked with steering a car down a virtual lane. To make the task a bit challenging and actually information, crosswinds were added to the simulation and the participants were told to stray as little as possible. Psychological Science quotes that “Experienced action games showed much greater precision in keeping to their lane, and showed less deviation from the center in the face of increasing headwinds when compared to the participants with little to no action video game experience.”

Throwing your brain into full throttle

In simple words, your mind is glued to the road

These video games are a simulation so they are a great exercise to strengthen your ‘mental’ muscles. Yes, driving in itself is a big workout for your brain and not just the eyes. So it would only make sense to practice in perfecting the basics before you attempt the workout itself right? Take care of your 20/20 vision, which is important and greatly helps while driving but at the end of the day, it is the brain that makes the choices when you are behind the wheel. Therefore, to make the right choices, your brain needs to be sharp and perform with utmost accuracy.

Thanks to video games, your spatial attention is now at the right places while driving and the sea of distractions no longer stray your eyes away. You are no longer distracted by the scenery and rather focused on the real things like the surrounding cars.

You also have an impeccable tracking ability; this skill is absolutely vital as a motorist. As mentioned before, your hand-eye coordination improves which is not only great for the choices you make in the road but also while accelerating, braking, switching gears, and changing lanes without feeling the need to take your eyes off the road.

When you are looking around at the surrounding cars, you also process speed better in order to make better choices while switching lanes so that you know when to switch lanes and when to not to avoid hitting other vehicles.

Gameplay can also refine your defensive driving skills, those sorts of skills that help you dodge vehicles or a fatal crash. No, they will not exactly replace your instructor, but they sure will test your ability to dodge trouble so that you win that objective or race. Evasive maneuvers will now become a reflex; the consequences of nudging out of the way in time are priceless. A lot of what happens in a game is fictional, but that does not mean that you cannot learn anything from them to apply it to your real world.

Finally, most car enthusiasts start with racing games to learn about cars themselves. Be it real cars in the Gran Turismo series or the Need For Speed series or even fictional cars like the ones in the Grand Theft Auto series, you can learn a fair amount about the auto world. Newer games provide you with more thrills with gameplay and ultra-realistic graphics, not to mention the latest crop of graphic cards that allow you to play these games in 8k for the pc. But a certain amount of thrill also lies in modifying and racing these cars in however way they choose.

Doesn’t matter which style of motoring game you play, you are going to gain skills that are immensely valuable as a real-world motorist.


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