A Brief History Of Racing Games

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Here we see a great brief history of racing games. Featuring great titles of the past and where we are in the present day.

Did you know racing games have been around for many years, here we see a great history of racing in video games, with the roots of racing and the evolution to the present day.

Ever since the 1970s, when Atari introduced the first racing game to the public, the genre has remained a staple of video gaming. Its popularity in the modern era no better demonstrates it.

As not only do tens of millions of gamers now play titles like Forza Horizon 5,  but over one-fifth of every gamer who took part in research conducted by Newzoo considers racing their favorite game genre.

What’s even more prevalent is that the development within the titles has moved forward so much that the digital racetrack is now considered a legitimate tool for real-world drivers to hone their craft.

In eSports, titles such as Assetto Corsa Competizione and Formula One have become extremely popular, with the latter pulling in viewing figures on TV and digital platforms of over 30 million as stars of the sport joined in the action alongside gaming superstars.

What’s more remarkable is that we can even take to the tarmac on our smartphones now. Grid Autosport lets you take on people online, throwing you into the heart of the battle, and car racing also finds its way into other game genres, such as online slots.

There’s a title amongst the Ladbrokes casino games, namely Street Racer, which trades heavily on the racing scene, despite not having any actual car action. There’s also Motorsport Manager Mobile, where the focus is on managing the racing team and not steering the car to victory.

These modern titles are so different in looks to the black and white aesthetic first witnessed on Gran Trak 10 in arcades in 1974, or the first behind the steering wheel experience found when Sega brought Turbo to the home consoles.

Although there’s such a big contrast from those originals, the modern titles certainly owe a debt of gratitude to them for leading the pack to the current, online adrenalin-filled world of racing. Let’s take a look back at some of those standout moments in video gaming and simulation history.

Gran Trak 10

Although you don’t race against other cars on this breakthrough title, and it looks somewhat primitive, its impact was such that it’s considered by many as the granddaddy of video game racing. The arcade cabinet featured an actual steering wheel as a controller, which was a first and a four-speed gearbox and pedals. If you can get hold of one now, they’re treasured items, that’s for sure.

Pole Position

Pole Position was the first game that recreated an actual racing circuit, Fuji Speedway, in Japan. It arguably led to the modern, photo-realistic racing experience we have today. Another first was the introduction of qualifying, adding a new layer of complexity, making it the most popular arcade game in the early ’80s. It even spawned its own cartoon spin-off too!

Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo led the path when it came to cars and customization in video games when it was released in 1997 on the PlayStation. With over 140 vehicles to choose from and the introduction of earning a racing license, it had gamers hooked. It’s since become one of the most popular franchises, with over 80 million titles sold to date. We’re awaiting the latest iteration from Sony as Gran Turismo 7, released later this year.

iRacing

This game has become the online eSports adrenalin-filled racing title in the modern era. There’s something for almost every car racing aficionado with so many disciplines included. Rallycross, Nascar, Indycar, GT3, and more are available, and it’s something that even F1 racers take to.

World champion Max Verstappen can sometimes be caught in an online lobby along with Lando Norris too, so if you fancy yourself as a racer, why not see if you can give them a run for their money.