If you can’t afford a race car of your own, you might be able to afford a virtual one.

Racing games are one of the oldest gaming categories around with the likes of Gran Turismo being released on the PS1 in 1997. And that is just on consoles with arcade racing games dating back long before then. I still remember playing Gran Turismo when I was a kid and also being woefully bad at the game.

With the advancement of technology, racing games have become increasingly more realistic. With realistic graphics and physics, it has never been a better time for virtual Motorsport. That is, until virtual reality. With VR, you can sit in the cockpit of your favourite style of race car and race your friends without the cost or danger. And with the growing e-Motorsports community, virtual reality racing is sure to take off in the future.

Virtual Motorsports
E-Racing – Gran Turismo GT

Use it to improve your game.

The advantage of VR racing is how you can use it to improve your racing game. The goal of a virtual reality setup is to immerse the player fully into the game. This allows the user to feel like they are apart of what is taking place rather than just controlling a character. That is the advantage of using VR in Motorsport.

Virtual reality works to the same effect as a steering wheel attachment for racing games. Steering wheel attachments are effective because they make you feel as if you are driving the car. It makes you feel comfortable with your movements and helps you translate what you are trying to do to the game because of your time spent driving a real car.

By using VR in Motorsport, we are able to tap into our spacial awareness similar to driving a car. The ability to use your spacial awareness for upcoming corners and being able to see other vehicles surrounding you will allow you to race more effectively.

Even the Gran Turismo series creator loves the idea of VR racing. In an interview with GT Planet, he stated that Polyphony Digital’s focus would primarily be on VR. He also believes that VR and racing games are a perfect match stating that “It’s [VR] very suited for a driving game.” There is a strong belief that VR racing will be a driving force in the future of Gran Turismo games.

How this could work in E-Racing.

If you aren’t aware of e-racing, it is similar to most other e-sports. A group of players assemble in a room that is fitted with a range of gaming systems and racing setups, and they race. Typically the e-racing competition takes place over a season similar to a racing season in F1 or Supercars. The concept is almost exactly the same, besides the fact that it is all virtual.

FIA Esports Series Motorsport
FIA Esports Series

Virtual reality technology can easily translate into the e-racing community. The key challenge that incorporating VR would be tracking the hands of the driver. If you have a virtual screen that shows your hands on placed firmly on the steering wheel, yet you are trying to move your hands to press a button or lever, this can be quite distracting to the driver.

For Virtual Reality to work appropriately with e-Motorsport, hand tracking would need to be applied. This could be as simple as small bracelets on each hand that allow cameras to track the movement. This would allow the game to track your hands successfully for what would be an extremely immersive racing experience.

How can I get into VR racing?

VR racing games are going to play a large role in the future of racing game development. As mentioned earlier, it is going to be a key focus of the Gran Turismo franchise. VR racing is also available in games such as Project Cars 2 which offers a premium racing experience.

If you’re looking at creating a VR racing system for yourself, it can get a bit pricey however the end product will be quite impressive. To begin with you will need a system to run the racing software. The first option would be the PlayStation VR2 headset if you are into consoles. It is the cheapest premium experience on the market at present and Gran Turismo games are a PlayStation exclusive.

You will also need a steering wheel attachment for the game along with foot pedals. We recommend the Thrustmaster T150 RS racing wheel and pedals setup which is available from Amazon here. And if you are looking for an extreme setup, you can also purchase a racing chair setup designed to fully simulate the racing cockpit feel of a race car.

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