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How To Sell Cars: Put Them In A Video Game

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Gran Turismo 5 at the Nurburgring

Gran Turismo 5 at the Nurburgring

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OK, let’s get one thing clear: I suck so bad at video games that I gave up on them at the tender age of 12 when my cousin whipped my derriere at Intellivision Battleship because he discovered that the little  cruiser could outrun and kill everything, and I kept getting my battleship sunk every single game. He went on to be a cajillionaire with several hot cars under his belt, while I am blogging about people and vehicles who possess these dream machines. Very, very jealously, I might add.

When video arcades were still cool (I think that’s just after they invented electricity), I took a few shots at driving games. I sucked yet again, and so badly that people would beg me not to play. I got such low scores and crashed so often, my insurance premiums went up on my real car. There were also a few attempts at Xbox games, other handheld devices and the game I was best at--by a long shot--was solitaire. With Tetris running a close second.

OK, so I am not the world’s greatest video game player, but I have seen one thing, and it relates to one of my favorite subjects--cars. I saw the devotion, and in some cases addiction, to driving games that my teenage nephews and several software-related friends have displayed over the years, and I find it amazing. And I think it’s the car industry’s biggest hook to making sales in the future. In short, the driving video game is the car ad of the future. Today.

My nephews know less than nothing about real cars, as do many of my friends, but they have played driving games so realistic, so involving, they may as well be owners. My nephew customizes his virtual cars with such glee and attention you’d think he was looking at pictures of naked girls. And it’s not just about the control over the cars in the virtual world.

Anyone who knows a thing about video game development knows that videogame designers are fanatic about details, real technical details. They make these games as realistic as they can, in short making them more than just entertainment devices. These games are the car ads that suck the next (and current) generation into the car business. It's devious and brilliant.

Just watch the intro videos of Forza Motorsport 3 and Sony Gran Turismo 5, and tell me these thing aren’t car ads for automotive exotica every male wants to own at some point, and hopefully one day drive the pants off of at some far off racetrack when funds and free time are not in short supply. Man, these games are dream machines.

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