Driving Aids: Trust your brain,Tetris, and datas
If you think you can’t play a racing game without ABS, TCS or even AT, you’re not only over-pessimistic, you’re obviously missing a part of the essence of the game that those who know it will never abandon. And you’d better read this.
The anecdote takes place in Gran Turismo's studio Polyphony Digital offices in Tokyo, march 1999. I sit in an interview room with developers from Omega Boost (the only non-racing game from PD), along with a dozen of other european journalists. OB, a shoot-them-up, has something special: it is then planned to be one of the very first game to make use of both stick off the new Dual Shock controller (original PlayStation controller had only a cross pad and buttons). And here comes the question from one of us: “Are you sure that players will be able to use both stick simultaneously? I mean, is our brain capable to handle this?”. Believe it or not, but nobody laughed at him.
What we know today to be a second nature for millions of players (COD audience is high enough to make this assertion true) used to rise levels of scepticism back then. The gap between low expectation about ourself having to cope with a challenge and our proven true potential could be filled with a known process: the Tetris Effect.
“A prevailing theory known as the Tetris Effect states that when a person initially starts to play Tetris, their brain consumes a huge amount of glucose in order to solve its fast-paced puzzles. Through consistent and limited daily practice, the brain begins to consume less glucose to perform just as well, if not better, at Tetris. After a few months the brain becomes so efficient at playing the game that it requires only a very small amount of fuel to perform the game’s rapid puzzle work.” wrote J. Fordham from thebeautifulbrain.com, based on several scientific studies. Or, in a short way: if you think you can’t do it, just do it. (Very small amount of) Time will solve the problem as your brain will silently optimizing itself for you.
To get back to our subject (driving aids), using a wheel helps greatly a player to cope with the removal of driving aids. But in any case, the barrier between you and the true experience is lighter that it looks, and is just waiting for a first step, not much effort, to be raised. And if you ever doubt of where this would lead you from a performances point of view, here are statistics from Time Trial online mode of Gran Turismo 5:
The following graph shows evolution of % of players with or without TCS, based on the mygranturismo.net performance indice range (0 - 1000): left is low perf, right is high perf. Based on 7.5 millions posted times.
If both settings had the same efficiency, we would have flat parallel lines. Fun + Performance in one package: easy choice...