The evolution of racing games and the rise of driving games

Posted by Sarah Addyson on December 3rd, 2019

 Racing games have been around since the early ‘70s, when people used to gather in arcades to play Speed Race or Gran Trak 10. These first-generation games were just white dots on a black screen but players would spend dozens of hours trying to surpass one another. Since then, anything that could be raced on land, water, in air or space would be the new thing and would be made into a game. These were the ancestors of today’s driving games. Starting from dots and lines on a cabinet-sized arcade game and finishing with highly defined textures rendered on monitors around the world, this is the path games took from pop-culture icons to modern-day simulators.

Please insert coin

Most game genres got their start in dark and smoky arcades, where people of almost all ages came to escape, for the price of a quarter, from the mundane world into the magical one of video games. Since those days, things have evolved and the games and gamers did so too. With the rise of the home gaming console and the stride made by gaming PCs, the gaming industry had to keep up and reinvent itself. And so, it did. Coming up with new genres and more and more detailed graphics, game developers have become the rock stars of the digital era.

Racing games are just a small part of an industry that generates billions every year. Out of this category driving games emerged. This sort of games gave players the opportunity to experience things that they might never get to otherwise, from the comfort of their own home. And the more the player experienced, the more he wanted. This was the dawn of the competitive professional gamer.

Flipping through history

Racing games are one of the oldest genres of games out there. Since they first appeared, they’ve drawn people to them, offering them the chance to become a fighter pilot competing with other aces of the air, a rally car driver on his way to the win of his career or a space captain engaged in a life or death race with an extraterrestrial. No matter what the gamer wanted to become, now he could.

Driving games offered a more relatable experience. Mostly based on simple racing circuits, the games offered players to live the thrill of a formula 1 race from the drivers’ point of view, or other real-life competitions.

A look back to the games that made history

Gran Trak 10 (1974)

The ”grandfather” of race gaming was just a doted outline of the course that players had to avoid hitting. In spite of its limited graphic capabilities, this is the game that started it all.

Night Driver (1976 Arcade, 1978 Atari 2600)

This game offered the player a new perspective. Its behind-the-car point of view would influence game developers into eventually creating the first-person and dashboard perspectives.

Hang On (1985)

If motorcycles were more your thing, than cars, then SEGA had this for you. From its colorful 16-bit graphics to the motorcycle controller you had to lean on in order to turn corners, the game was a phenomenal success.

Daytona USA (1993)

Daytona USA featured some of the flashiest graphics you could have in a ‘90s arcade game. That aside, it grossed the highest of any arcade game in history.

Ridge Racer (1994, PS1)

Entering the gaming console era, this game was one of the hottest titles of the year it came out. It was also a very good example of what early 3D graphic technology could achieve.

Gran Turismo (1997)

Thus, begins the rise of the driving simulator. Using real world cars, the game was more than just a race around a circuit. It used high quality graphics and let the player decide what he wanted to do in the game.

Forza Motorsport (2005)

21st century graphics brought with it the advance of video games development. Studios started concentrating more and more on textures and making the whole driving experience as realistic as possible.

Project CARS (2015)

With the improvements made to game engines, came the need to make car simulators even better. This time it wasn’t so much about the racing itself or the visual customization –although those were great too-but more about engine power and how the player could improve technical specs on cars. Also, the game capitalized on the powerful graphics of the new generation of consoles and gave some of the best visuals in the industry.

Resource Box: If you are into  racing games  and are looking for some high quality  driving games  then you must know that we are living in a golden age of graphics and player experiences.

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