Gaming meets reality

Computer games can substitute the mundane nature of everyday life with wonder, danger and excitement. But what happens when those lines are blurred?


Virtual fantasies often provide the perfect escapism

Films like The Last Starfighter have teased the idea of games becoming reality, as trailer park teen Alex Rogan was plunged into a real-life version of his favourite intergalactic arcade game.

This might seem like a concept destined to remain in Hollywood, but every now and then it can actually happen.

From PS3 to podium glory

Three years ago Lucas Ordonez was one of 25,000 gamers hoping to use the GT Academy to test out his digital driving skills for real. Since then his life has transformed and on June 12 he celebrated a podium finish at Le Mans.

When he entered the competition, run by Sony and Nissan, Ordonez had no idea his Gran Turismo talents would lead towards his ideal career as a professional racing driver.

Ordonez, who had karting experience from his youth, managed to overcome the competition at the GT Academy, but he faced an uphill battle to win the respect of his opponents.

Speaking to Wired magazine, he said: “I knew other drivers were talking, saying ‘Who is this Lucas, the PlayStation gamer? Is this some kind of joke?’”

The motor enthusiast got to have the last laugh though as he was subsequently picked for the Nissan team. This set him on a fairy-tale journey to Le Mans, where he managed to finish second and fulfill a lifelong ambition. Bet no-one’s sneering now.

It’s an underdog story that even Sylvester Stallone would be proud of, and Ordonez is aware of how lucky he is: “I won an amazing prize but never in my wildest dreams did I think that it would take me all the way to the Le Mans podium,” he said.

What next?

In the wake of Ordonez’s success, there could be a new wave of copycat gamers looking to follow in his footsteps.

How long will it be before people start knocking on Sir Alex Ferguson’s office door with showreels of their Fifa exploits to win a contract?

Perhaps eventual applicants to succeed him at Manchester United will even include their career stats from Football Manager to make their case. It might sound silly, but everyone’s had thoughts like that after a trophy-filled season on the popular PC game.

A more likely progression could be flight simulator gurus getting the opportunity to take to the skies. The current versions of these games are not too dissimilar from the virtual tests used to put actual pilots through their paces. Obviously they would need to get to grips with genuine in-flight controls and G forces, but that might be one dream that’s worth hanging on to.

But you’d hope that no Tekken or Mortal Kombat fanatics would go challenging Jackie Chan or Jet Li to a duel – that could get messy!

Ordonez’s story is a brilliant example of the impossible dream coming true. It’s a feature film waiting to happen. The only person who might want to avoid seeing it is whoever wins this year’s GT Academy. He/she will have very big boots to fill.

If you could make one gaming dream a reality what would it be? Comment below or tweet @dixonsintheknow