The History And Evolution Of Video Car Racing Games

space raceGaming consoles are now household objects in millions of properties across the world but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, some of the earlier models were either deemed not fit for purpose or simply too expensive. Nowadays, the likes of PlayStation and Xbox are able to offer consoles that can cope with every genre – from first person shooters to online sport games.

Car racing games in particular have evolved somewhat over the years. The first racing game dates back to the early 1970s, with arcade game producers Atari releasing Space Race. With the capacity for two players to play, gamers had to control their spaceship using a joystick and had to race against other ships while avoiding comets and meteors. As you might expect from a game released in 1973, Space Race was exclusively played in black and white.

Video games in the 1970s and 1980s were nothing like they are today. In fact, most gamers would agree that the enhancement of video gaming goes hand-in-hand with the rapid rise in popularity of consoles. As more and more consoles were released, starting with the likes of Sega and Nintendo to today’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, there has been a greater focus placed on gaming experience.

The 1990s was a pivotal era for car racing games. Geoff Crammond, a leading figure in the advancement of video games during the mid-1980s, helped to develop Formula One Grand Prix in 1992, which was the new champion of simulation racing. Without a doubt, the game boasted the kind of detail that was unparalleled during the period – offering players a full recreation of drivers, cars and circuits in the 1991 Formula One World Championship.

formula 1Unfortunately, the U.S version of the game was not granted an official license for real names so teams and drivers were renamed. However, the actual gaming experience gave users a new insight into video car racing games and this was the first to make major strides towards a unique Formula One gaming experience. As time has gone on, F1 games have continued to get better and better…

Meanwhile, Nintendo decided to cash in on the success of Mario with Super Mario Kart. This was purely animation and focused more on entertainment and fun than anything else but it certainly helped to attract general gaming fans to the racing genre. Super Mario Kart had a lot more to it than just racing, with weapons and boosts available to offer an ever-changing race experience for players.

By the mid-1990s, 3D technology was ripe in gaming and that was no different for racing car games. In fact, almost every game produced at the time gave users a 3D driving experience, which helped to make players feel as though they were physically racing the cars. In 1997, it was about to take another shift as PlayStation released the first ever Gran Turismo game. At the time, it was widely considered the best racing car game around.

And to be fair, Gran Turismo was the ideal game for racing car fans – whether they were a complete and utter novice or a video game aficionado. Gran Turismo offered players an unrivalled experience, with various game modes to appeal to users of different skill levels. It has since gone on to become the second-most successful racing car game franchise ever, with over 80 million sales worldwide as of April 2018.

The release of Gran Turismo opened new doors for game developers to exploit. Colin McRae Rally helped grab the attention of rally driving fans – this game offered a different vibe to that of Gran Turismo and Formula One Grand Prix. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw an influx of new video car racing games, with Sega releasing Daytona USA 2, the first of its kind to feature realistic crashes and collisions.

Looking more at the present day, certain consoles offer a much greater racing experience than others. Take the Nintendo Wii for example, this isn’t the console you want if you are looking for high definition graphics but Wii games give players a fun experience. With the option to purchase a plug-in steering wheel for some games, the Wii is able to give an array of games that will keep you entertained for hours.

The salient fact is this: car racing video games have transformed from one-dimension, low quality gaming experiences to a 360-degree, high definition experience with a plethora of suitable options. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer Formula One, rally driving or even an animated game like Crash Team Racing, with remastered editions of older games readily available, the gamer is now in total control.

F1 2019 is the ‘must have’ car racing game at this moment in time and fans from all over the world play this game on a daily basis. With unparalleled graphics, a career mode that lasts longer than any other and a full, up-to-date World Championship calendar, it is the pinnacle of car racing games right now. F1 2019 sets the benchmark for future success and car racing developers will be looking at this game and how to improve in years to come.

The option to play games ‘on the go’ has helped to attract a new market. The rise of mobile gaming has gone hand-in-hand with technological advancements in graphics, design and general game play experience. In years gone by, car games on mobile phones have been very basic indeed – with lineal racing lines and ugly features on the eye. Now, racing games are up there with the most popular on the app store.

We’re now in 2019 and the availability of car racing video games is unprecedented. Whether you want a Formula One game, a ‘fun’ relaxed racing game for the family or NASCAR, there is an option out there for you. Video racing games have evolved drastically over the years and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see developers make further strides in the near future. As the technology improves, so will the general car racing gaming experience.

Alex McMahon

Alex McMahon has been involved in sports writing since 2014, writing for several world-renowned digital publications, companies and websites. He enjoys nothing more than relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, watching Super Sunday before NFL Red Zone in the evening.

With a good knowledge of most sports, particularly football, rugby union and Formula One, he is comfortable writing about any fixture, tournament or major meeting. Previously, Alex has provided previews and news updates for 888Sport, BetVictor and Unibet amongst others.

As our main writer for Pole Betting, Alex will be keeping a close eye on all things Formula One, while also looking at other major motorsport events.

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