Imagine if cars were just made for transportation duties. All we would see on the roads are boring boxes on wheels. Fortunately, that’s not the world we live in, and car designers have made sure that our cars are fun.
That fun can be found in the exterior appearance, the performance and the handling, but automakers are also putting in little games into cars to help lighten up the load of driving and make it more entertaining. Not only that, but cars are getting video game-inspired tweaks that help the vehicles appeal to a wider audience: one that grew up with a gamepad in their hands.
For example, the Nissan GT-R’s central display screen features graphics and visuals designed by the same team behind the popular Gran Turismo games for Playstation. One look at the display, and it’s clear that it was inspired by head-up displays from video games.
Hyundai Veloster Blue Max Game
Many cars are using games to encourage drivers to be more fuel efficient. Hyundai and the earlier iteration of the Veloster had one of the more interesting applications, as a there’s a hidden game in the settings that awards points to efficient drivers. Actions like coasting, changing into the correct gear at the right time, and accelerating and braking smoothly would all net points. Owners could compare scores to boast about how efficiently they were driving.
Mustang Line Lock and Track Apps
Gamers can probably all admit to trying a few radical things in racing games, like say, meaty burnouts. But doing stuff like that in the real world isn’t as easy as it looks in the games. Fortunately, new cars are coming with tools to help make you look like a video game action hero. Take the new Mustang with the performance package and track apps, for example. Thanks to an easy-to-use, video game-like interface for the electronic line-lock function, you can easily learn how to safely do burnouts without reading an entire owner’s manual. Of course, this feature is better suited for the track, where you aren’t going to be a nuisance turning your tires into smoke (which is a noisy and smelly affair).
Corvette Performance Data Recorder
A cool feature in racing games is the ability to record your lap times and compete against it. Corvettes are starting to incorporate some of that idea with the available Performance Data Recorder, or PDR. In simple terms, it’s an integrated GoPro camera that can overlay info like your throttle position, g-forces, steering angle, location on the track and your speed on the video footage. The resulting footage looks exactly like it would in a first-person racing game. It’s a great way to show your friends your fast lap times, or use it as a learning tool to help you go faster.
Chevrolet Volt Balance Ball
The Chevrolet Volt is an extended range electric vehicle. In simpler terms, it’s a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a beefy electric battery and a gas-powered engine that kicks in once the battery is depleted. The biggest goal of cars like this is to maximize range, and Chevrolet’s dashboard game helps coach drivers to be more energy efficient. It works by displaying a ball on the digital gauge cluster. If you accelerate too quickly or brake too suddenly, the ball moves up or down. The goal is to keep it perfectly centered for as long as you can. Achieve that, and you’ll maximize your range!
Ford Efficiency Leaves
Ford has something similar in its cars. Called “Efficiency Leaves,” the car will display a vine on the gauge cluster. Drive efficiently and leaves will start growing and if you’re really good, flowers can bloom. The more efficiently you drive, more leaves and flowers will grow. In the Ford Focus Electric, the leaves are replaced with butterflies, but no caterpillars, so no need to be worried if you’re the type to be afraid of creepy crawlers.
Ford Focus RS Drift Mode
Remember Ridge Racer, or Project Gotham Racing, where style trumped speed? Those games would encourage you to go everywhere sideways. Back in the real world, however, controllably drifting a car is an acquired skill, but not if you have the new Focus RS. Drift mode will sort out and help you maintain a cool drift around corners, so you can live out your video game dreams.
Vision Gran Turismo
If you need any more proof that the world of cars and video games are converging, take a look at the Vision Gran Turismo program. Automakers are creating awesome concepts for the Gran Turismo video game, then making them into real things to display at auto shows and other events. Some automakers are even using the Vision GT concepts to influence their real cars. This is the path Bugatti took with the new Chiron hypercar, and Aston Martin’s latest hyper car, the AM-RB 1000 is very much like the Aston Martin DP-100 Vision GT concept for Gran Turismo.