Digital Car Racing

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Tony Santos


With the advent of modern technology and globalization, one of the industries that emerged is computer gaming. One of today’s favorite pastimes and social activities, video games has completely elevated entertainment into a whole new level, invading our living rooms with sky sports package, personal computers, and quite recently, our mobile gadgets. And as far as gaming genres go, one of the more successful ones today is the racing genre. Nothing beats unleashing your inner speed demon while driving your favorite sports car, all the while beating the competition and leaving them in the dust. Hence today, we take a brief look at digital car racing’s humble beginnings and its evolution to become one of the premier gaming genres of our generation.

Birth of Digital Car Racing

In 1973, Atari introduced the very first racing game called Space Race. It consists of two players racing toward the top of a monochrome screen. The game’s objective is fairly simple, reach the top of the screen and win one point, all the while avoiding any asteroids that flew into your screen. Get hit and your space ship tumbles back to its starting position. Albeit fairly primitive and simple, Space Race ushered in an era of racing games that truly made it an innovative and pioneering game. This is then followed in 1976, when Crashing Race was introduced. The game added a completely new dimension to the industry by allowing players the opportunity to crash other players’ cars.

The Eighties

The 80s saw a big improvement in digital car racing with the introduction of Rally X. It was the first racing game with an overhead view, a music track and a map that showed your location. More so, it was also the first racing title to allow cars to move in all directions, providing a more realistic driving experience.

In 1982, the racing genre was upped again, this time with the help of Pole Position. It was the very first game that was based on actual racing, and was also the first to feature a voice recording. Just like in real world racing, players of the game need to qualify in driving lessons before participating in circuit and grand prix races. Pole Position also offered different race courses to choose from, another first in the genre.

The Nineties

In 1992, Nintendo announced Super Mario Kart, its transition of flagship franchise Mario into the racing genre. The move sparked a sub-genre of racing games called “mascot-based cart racing”. Since then, several iterations of the Mario Kart franchise were released, the most recent being Mario Kart 7 on 3DS. Game titles such as Diddy Kong Racing and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing all owe their successes to Mario.

In 1997, Gran Turismo debuted on the Sony PlayStation. Widely considered to be the most realistic racing game of its era, it was developed for over five years and introduced a more detailed game play and allowed players to train before participating in races, similar to Pole Position.

Lastly, in 1999, a new innovation was introduced in the racing genre: free world play. Titles such as Crazy Taxi and Midtown Madness was released, allowing players more freedom to explore their virtual world as they please, performing missions and driving around to their heart’s content.


Nowadays, with technology getting better by the minute, digital car racing has reached new heights. Franchises such as Need for Speed (NFS) and Grand Theft Auto have invaded not only our gaming consoles and PCs but also our mobile devices. NFS, widely considered as the most successful racing video game series of all time, has sold over 100M copies worldwide.

On the other hand, iOS and Android devices alike now reap the benefit of cheaper and faster hardware in supporting quality and high-definition racing games on their respective platforms. Title such as Asphalt, Real Racing and CSR Racing now come affordably to consumers thanks to the Google Play and the Apple App Store. Indeed, for adrenaline junkies out there, the future is very bright for the digital car racing genre.


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