Why racing games matter
Here I sat in front of a TV in my basement. A 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO was flying down a stretch of Italian highway. A 79’ Trans Am was chasing it, all while The Clash was blasting from the radio. No, I wasn’t watching a vintage race with an unlikely battle, I was playing Forza Horizon 2, the video game that made me love cars.
Racing games as a concept are nothing new. Even in the days of Pong and Asteroids, video game developers were trying to emulate the feeling of driving, with a varying degree of success. Pole Position, Out Run, Virtua Racing, all racing game classics. I’m of the unfortunate age where I wasn’t around to experience any of the classic racing games, but I was just old enough to play the original Forza Horizon.
I’ve been playing racing games since I was six years old. Dunking on people in MarioKart Wii and DS, taking fools to gapplebees in Forza Motorsport 5, racing games are my bread and butter, aside from FPS games. So imagine the impact when 8 year old me experienced the first and second Forza Horizon games.
The concept for the Forza Horizon games are simple. You, the main character, are a part of this music festival/racing event. The goal- win a bunch of races and win the Festival. With over 100 cars of different varieties, the game has an addictive charm to it. Add in a functioning radio system with some solid songs, you have what I consider one of my favorite racing series. Actually, scratch that, one of my favorite video game series, only dethroned by the Halo franchise.
But I am not alone in my love for racing games. I asked my friend Todd, who's as much of a car guy as me, how he got into cars. Other than being raised around a 71’ Cutlass S, Todd told me that games like Forza Horizon 3 really invoked the tuner inside him. He texted me saying “They(Forza Horizon 3) really help with putting pictures in my head to build a car of mine own one day.”
So, to bring this back to the title, why are racing games important?
Racing games are Gen Z’s Buillitt and Smokey and the Bandit.
Racing games today are what make car guys and car girls.
Racing games are important because it’s introduced a new generation to the thrill of cars. Being able to build and modify your own cars, almost exactly to your liking. Do you wanna build a pink 85’ Trans Am and take a McLaren to gapple bees? No ones stopping you. Does the concept of sending an AE86 down a mountain like Takumi Fujiwara bake your beans? Well, you can’t do that in real life, but with an Xbox and a couple hours to burn, you can live out the dreams of being a street racer. Just like in real life, cars in racing games can be the ultimate form of self expression.
Racing games are important for the future of the car community. It's the ultimate, and to be honest, the only way young people are being introduced to cars and Motorsports.
My name is Sam, and thank you for reading.
“Racing games today are what make car guys and car girls.
Racing games are important because it’s introduced a new generation to the thrill of cars. Being able to build and modify your own cars, almost exactly to your liking.....It's the ultimate, and to be honest, the only way young people are being introduced to cars and Motorsports.”
I couldn’t disagree more.
I’m glad you enjoy gaming. So do I ...occasionally. But it will always be just substitute for reality.
Well of course, genuine exposure to a race track or going to car shows is gonna be best way. But to be completely honest, how many kids or teenagers do you see at a car show?
Car shows, the kind where everyone sits around their cars in lawn chairs anyway, are too static for kids. Sure, it's fun to walk around a lot full of mechanical beauty, but, to spike interest you need to garner attention.
Car shows don't always do that for a kid. I'm talking entry-level stuff to the car-hobby here. Kids need to see cars (and motorcycles, or any other kind of vehicles) in motion. Hear the sounds, smell the smells and see them go by. Not just on and off a trailer at a show. Not on track, but on the road. Down the street. I look at my own kids (Heck, I'm going on 33 here, and I still feel like a kid :P), how quickly they tire at car shows compared to going for a drive in our '70 Torino. How kids in our neighbourhood go bananas every time we drive it, and if I give that V8 a couple of good revs they go absolute apesh!t 😛
I'm not talking down on car shows, I just say I don't think it's enough. I let my kids crawl around and play in both our daily drivers and the Torino, and they love it. I'd urge other car-enthusiasts to do the same.
Now as for gaming, I couldn't agree more that they are a stepping stone or foundation for mechanical appreciation. As you say, how many have access to a race track or a family member with a cool car that they actually drive.
And, many classic cars are now so valuable that you just don't see them in regular traffic. Even if it's not the "real thing", they offer great experience in their own right. My kids love games. I love games. Games have always been a sort of escape from reality. Where else can I send a genuine 427 Cobra into the corkscrew at Laguna Seca and not worry about not, well, not dying? 😛
As a car guy, there is only so much car show/cruise in that I can handle. I enjoy driving and wrenching on my iron too much to just sit in a lawn chair and b.s. in 95 degree heat. They are a great place to get a line on parts though.
To be completely honest I see ALOT of teenagers at shows. Their interest typically leans to 80’s and 90’s, often imports. But your demographic is common and growing.
Believing that race car gaming is like a track session or an autocross run is like believing a war game or confronting some animated criminal is like the experience of really being shot at. I personally assure you it is not.
Noting your age from earlier posts I’m not taking offense, But I encourage you to spend some real money, get a real car along with some real tools, skin some real knuckles and maybe start off with a real autocross and then reflect on your opinion of gaming as the “ultimate” way of getting started in the car scene.
I too am seeing younger kids with an interest in cars. Of course they are being accompanied by parents that are actually taking them to shows, cruise ins, and races.
I also agree with you on the gaming thing. While it is fun at times as a time killer for bad weather days, noting about gaming resembles real life. Handling a car on a good twisty road can be fun, and can also be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Track days are different yet.
I target shoot for fun, and as a hobby on top of my many other hobbies. First person shooter games don't even begin to come close to what it takes to actually hit a target with a gun. And it gets even more interesting as the distances get further out. You're experience with that one would be a lot more harrowing than mine because in my shooting experience, the target didn't shoot back.
I mean no offense, but generation by generation, we (and this is a general statement) are raising kids who don't end up with an real visceral experience by way of limiting their experiences outside of "simulation", or in the cyber realm to what I think will eventually be nothing. It is starting to turn around a little, but I don't see kids having the same kind of freedom to explore just the general outdoors that I had in the 80s. That freedom along with having people around me that were into cars was what helped keep that spark for cars ignited.
This story really spoke to me, as I didn't care for the early-mid 1980s car games but the simulators afterwards really got to me, especially the Test Drive series, Vette!, and the Hard Driving arcade game.
@JimR you bring up a good point, but it'd never have worked for me because my parents woulda grounded me for life if I left the house to go somewhere, anywhere they didn't approve of. And since I knew nobody in any form of motorsports, I was never going to a track. That's why video games have a lot of merit for kids like me. That and car magazines, I guess.
Except I'm not a kid anymore and I do go to race tracks now...but that's not the point.
The cold harsh truth is kids getting into the hobby is at an all time low.
We are lucky some are but no where to the degree we once had them.
In a way I can’t blame them for their lack of interest. When I was coming into the hobby a 64 GTO in good shape was $3000. Today that will buy you a rusted high mile Honda.
Also their social system has changed. We had to leave home yo see our friends or go to the mall. Your car was your standard and you were often judged by it.
Today kids get online and never leave home accept for work. They buy from Amazon. Mom supplies snacks. No car needed.
The games interest is better than nothing. At least they can get some of the interest but they yet miss so much.
Sitting at the line waiting for the tree to go Green is a feeling you only get in a real car. The G loads of a good run, the sound and smells are lost.
The feel of a real shifter and clutch has not been reproduced.
I have stood at the line with Funny Cars. To feel as if the sound is moving you and the ground under you is never the same.
I took my son to his first race. I had him in the pits and they were running the engine in. We were penned in the Hospital area. Once the exhaust fumes hit I think he thought they were trying to kill us LOL. I did not warn him as I wanted him to learn as I dis that brown haze will burn you.
While games are cool they will never replace the real thing or restore once was. With some schools teaching cars are environmentally unfriendly and evil is a sign the enemy of our hobby is at the gates.
The think I have found is driving some tracks will help you find the lines before you go out on the real track. I have done this a few times and it helps. But it still lacks the real feel of the tires scrubbing and the feel of the off camber coming out of the Keyhole onto the back stretch at Mid Ohio.
In fact take a kid to driving school at Mid Ohio. Not only is it fun but the skills they teach may just save their life. Of course you also need to go too.
As a millennial in my 20's, this is absolutely the truth. My options for entry-level classic cars were either the least popular underpowered rust buckets or paying 1-2 entire year's rent for something that would still be a fixer-upper. The worst off is that I am 6'5 so the usual listing of spitfires, triumphs, and MG's are completely undrivable. The other aspect of this is that my price point demanded buying something which requires a decade of experience to make operational in any reasonable timeline. Gone are the days you could buy a reliable (albeit slow and boring) project car to cut your teeth on.
I bought a 1959 Land Rover series because I got lucky and found one for cheap but it couldn't pull out of my parent's driveway (Even with a STEM degree/job I cannot afford a place with parking in my city) for nearly two years. Now that I've finally gotten over that hump, it'll still be years before I can get it to a place where it wouldn't look out of place in a junkyard.
None of my peers share the nostalgia for old cars because none of the movies they watched growing up had them. Most have never sat in a car older than them. I got lucky as a kid pirating dumb old movies that happened to have a disproportionate number of land rovers exploring the world but I am not sure I would have had the endurance to see the project through otherwise.
”The cold harsh truth is kids getting into the hobby is at an all time low. ....“
Do you have any data? Because anecdotally in my area that’s certainly not the case.
And yes, $3000 back in the day bought you a nice car. But adjust for inflation. Back then if a teenager made $3000 in a year, he was, in today’s vernacular, a “baller”. A working kid these days working part-time might clear $12k. annually. And that buys a decent used car with something left over. It’s relative.
The author above is 14 years old. A middle-schooler with no source of income. He’s trying to extrapolate reality from a game because he has no real experience...as yet. I guess I did some make-believe with plastic models and HOT ROT magazines. But I knew it was make-believe.
A couple more years, a job and with a modicum of passion and he’ll be able to connect with any number of others in his demographic with the same interests. Social media is wonderful for this. Just look at us on a car forum. I think the hobby is still growing.
That's actually a valid point. People of any ages are ready to spend their time for something, that can bring them feelings of relaxation. And games can do that for sure. Game developers should count that new games or even new levels for some specific games - should be made based on some reactions and reviews from the existing gamers and their features requests. I know a lot of great developers who cares about their clients and gamers, like iLogos.biz game dev agency. And based on their game portfolio - they cooperate with dozens of different game agencies all over the world.
Thank you so much for sharing how you got into this amazing hobby of loving cars. One of the things that struck me in this article is how you lived out your car related dreams in a virtual space. I share that in common with you! As a Millennial growing up with video games is something our generations have in common. I was able to experience the very tail end of Arcades with the big screens and the driving simulations. Crusin' USA was one of my absolute favorites at a local dive my parents loved to grab pizza at. Not "real life" in any way. Every time we went I had to play at least 5 games.
As some might tell you "Video Games are not like Real Life", and they miss the point. Studies have shown our brains are perfectly capable of disseminating from fact and fiction of these artificial worlds. Video games provide a great escape for some who might not be able. Whether that’s puzzle games, interactive stories, or sports games. One of the reasons I got into the hobby of cars and firearms were video games. Yes its not like reality (especially firearms), however its a great place to start with a fairly low jumping off point. I don't agree that people's love of cars is somehow not as great as if they did it in real life, or that an experience in a car game can’t be as valuable as the real thing. Especially if it lights a fire for your passions.
I never had a great car when I was in high school. I never participated in Karting to become a driving ledged. I had games like Gran Turismo and the original Forza games to show me what an absolute joy cars could be. Then when I was older and getting ready for my first racing school with Skip Barber at Sebring International Raceway, you know what I did? I played the heck out of Forza 3 on Sebring with a Spec Miata for hours and hours. Sure it didn't compare to actually turning a wheel in anger at the track, but it truly gave me an advantage over the driver that had no experience at the track. I had sightlines and breaking zones already picked out in my head. With slight modification for grip, suspension, and g forces, I was able to get some truly fast times. I was even competing with some people who had been racing for years!
To this day living in the Midwest, when cold weather comes I find myself enjoying the time on my simulator or Xbox. Testing and tuning cars. Seeing if there is such a thing as too much power. And yes, even living out a make-believe fantasy of driving an AE86 up and down a mountain pass with my little cup of water. Keep enjoying games. Hopefully soon you will be able to get out and enjoy the real thing! Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. And don't feel embarrassed if you don't know everything there is to know about this hobby, just get out and enjoy it. If you have passion, others will see that and help you along the way. Thanks for an awesome read. Keep at it!
Sam, thank you for sharing your perspective.
I'm 36, on the older end of the Millennial generation. My age has afforded me the great benefit of straddling the transition from analog to digital. I grew up with bunny ears, grandmothers that couldn't figure out the newfangled VCR, an OG Nintendo, and answering machines. In my teens, we had a computer in the home, AOL instant messenger, Nintendo 64, and flip phones. In college I got a laptop, high-speed internet, a Playstation 3, and Facebook first went online.
I grew up going to gun ranges and also playing first person shooters (FPS).
I played soccer competitively for 12 years alongside FIFA on my gaming consoles.
I backpacked Europe for two months and played Civilization on my computer.
The digital experiences fed my curiosity and enhanced my competency in their 'real-world' counterparts. There was a positive feedback loop between the two that elevated my experiences and interest. For example, from my own experiences:
FPS games reinforced how to sight down the irons and the importance of holding your breath while firing a rifle.
FIFA games provide a birds-eye view of the playing pitch and help develop both strategic and tactical skills in play.
Civilization made me more aware of the many cultures that have risen, fallen, and still remain while sparking curiosity about historical figures, places, and wonders.
Gaming gives people of all ages a taste of a new time or place, a different perspective, and/or access to places or things they may not be able to currently reach in the 'real world.' Gaming helps develop interests that can be fully explored in the 'real world' as you get older, have more resources, etc.
I don't think Sam is saying that all you need is video games to become a car guy. Sam is sharing how gaming introduced him to a new world that he didn't know about before and couldn't access. Through gaming he has developed a passion and knowledge for the automobile that will likely encourage him to attend car shows, ask his parents for tickets to a motorsports event, or sign up for a shop class in school.
Good for you, Sam. Keep gaming... just not all the time.
All things in a creating a decent generation will never change - Having a close relationship with both parents. I grew up in the 60s at a time when we all had dinner together and discussed our days as a family. That close bond has been fragmented over the last few decades. I was lucky in that was a time when dad brought home the bacon and mom ran the house. Now both parents get trapped in both having to work keeping up with the Jones's. If you really want the next generation to embrace the customs and hobbies of our time, start there - with dinner as a family - EARLY in a child's formative years are the best chance of planting those seeds. My dad sold real estate with woodworking as a hobby. I am now a custom woodworker building furniture and restoring antiques while restoring the old house I live in. These building blocks carry over to restoring bikes and cars. And I have my parents to thank for my life's appreciations today.
I'm wid da beer drinker @ top.
Games build enthusiasm for games. Hands on w/dad has made a pretty competent wrencher of a 24 y/o daughter. I no longer fear break dwns in un-safe places. She has enjoyed both dad time and a growing confidence in her own abilities. She games as well but that does not transfer to the rest0mod she'll get at the end of the project,
good topic. Never got into gaming, but raised my two sons in the 70's on slot cars. Same concept but different aspect. Also raised them in the shop gettin dirty and building their first trucks to drive to school. We'd break out the track from time to time and every Christmas they would get a few extra sections of track and a new car. Great fun. My grand children however are all about gaming and don't care too much for tools, dirt, grease etc...... Hang in there SamAdamsPale. You'll get your car someday and prolly still be interested in gaming, but don't waste too much time in front of the game when you could be under the hood.
The Boomers killed the interest in vehicles for the younger generations. For every Boomer who is accepting and encouraging of the younger generations and their vehicle choices, there are hundreds who laugh, mock, etc., because it’s not American Muscle, or it’s too new, or Japanese /Euro crap, etc, etc....you see it here in the comments on all the articles that aren’t about their precious Muscle Cars, they piss and moan and whine about Hagerty’s not in tune with their members....NO, you’ve all driven the younger generations away, and we have found other vehicles that interest US!
I am an Xer who is into muscle cars. That being said, I don't knock someone else's choice for what they are into. I have seen some pretty impressive tuners rides in my time.
WoW! That was a pretty generalized statement considering I have read comments from guys into muscle cars talking about the merits of other types of rides. On the other side of the coin, I have seen tuner, and euro car guys also talk pretty positively about other types of rides as well. I am a muscle car guy, but don't knock others for their taste. And that's exactly what it is a matter of; personal taste. I think that maybe you are the one that is being a little short sided. The name of the forum is Hagerty. It doesn't say "no tuners welcome", nor does it say "Euro cars only" or "Nothing here but my precious muscle car". I have yet to see anyone with a muscle car (me being a muscle car guy) complaining about anything that doesn't have anything to do with my "precious muscle car".
Am I in an alternate reality all of a sudden? Oh, no. Wait a minute. I am in 2021 where comments get made with no real validation of fact. I have heard this argument from many a young guy with a tuner car about muscle car guys. It seems there is some sort of rivalry from the young guys with tuner cars against us evil muscle car guys. Yet, at least at the gatherings I have been at, the classic/muscle car crowd is pretty welcoming to the tuner crowd. At least that's my experience.
You like tuner cars? Good. Build it and enjoy it. But please, don't make it some sort of generational thing claiming some sort of social injustice from anyone else is what made you "stick it to the man" for your entire generation. That's just a loaded statement.
By the way, I actually DO like tuner cars. REAL tuner cars. I think they have a lot to offer and can see a lot of the things that tuners use, especially with suspensions and handling that can be applied to muscle cars. I think the tuner movement actually helped to spur the "restomod" movement with the muscle car crowd.
I know after going to the NOPI nationals back in the day here in Atlanta, and watching the autocrossers, I started rethinking what could be done with the American iron I had at the time.
There is room for everyone at the table.
Pssst....look in the mirror to check on that “pissing and moaning” thing. I’m in my Medicare years and have been ‘rockin’ a “Tuner” car for over two decades. In my experience BOTH generations have been deprecative to the other.
And please stop projecting the fragile ego in the mirror on to the other millennials and X’ers. A lot of my car-friends are probably younger than you and would be offended.
It has nothing to do with a fragile ego, and everything to do with the Boomer generation doing nothing to encourage younger generations in their automotive endeavors....and good for you, that you’re into tuners....the majority in your age group are not, and look down their noses, because “The Youth” are. This wasn’t an attack on you personally, or saying that all in the younger generations have fragile egos, it was just an observation of what I have experienced over the last 40 years or so of being addicted to cars.
I don't get why you are still arguing. You are probably on the most laid back forum you could find with guys from all walks of life that have cars that reflect their lifestyles. I have YET to see that slight come from a muscle car guy to a tuner guy on this forum. Or vice versa. As a matter of fact, many of us close minded old guys just got done encouraging a Saturn collectors club. That sort of blows your "boomer" statement out of the water.
That and you are still trying to basically pick a fight with one of the most chill members on this forum who also happens to be.....ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.....A tuner guy. Am I missing something, or are you just looking to lash out at everyone?
I think another thing that generates interest in budding car enthusiast, although not as promoted as they were in the 70s and 80s are model car kits, and the RC car kits that you assemble. Both are fun, and in varying degrees can help a younger person get a rudimentary idea of how things work, etc. Also the RC cars are a blast once you've built them along with showing you that you will eventually replace worn parts if you thrash them hard.
First, anecdotally I don’t think interest in the hobby is suffering with the younger crowd. And I’ve never seen reliable statistics to contradict that.
Second, if it’s waning in your area it’s not because those mean old men aren’t playing nice.
Finally, buck-up. It’s a two-way street. Kids try to bully me sometimes with comments like how my FD is “waisted on a gray-hair”. I just smile, pull out my bottle of “ENSURE” and down it like Popeye doing spinach...then drop the clutch to the opening bars of ZZ Top’s ‘La Grange’.
Back in the mid 80's to the mid 90's, my Dad and I would show the 58 MGA we restored. (he had bought it in 1960). We would bump into a younger couple from Florida who showed their AMX and Javelin (his and hers). As we talked it was apparent that we liked all types of autos but not all types of folk. We did realize that each generation IDENTIFIES with what they grew up with. What's the old adage? "To each his own", "Opinions are like a--holes; everybody's got one" "One mans junk is another mans treasure", etc. As a side bar, the MGA went on to receive the prestigious John Thornley Award. Dad is gone now and I recently sold the MGA to nice younger couple from guess where............yep! I encourage everyone to replace the controller/monitor with a wrench and instead of sitting in front of the TV, get under the hood or behind the wheel. Hand in there yall.
I've never told this story but I think the time may be right due to the way this topic seems to be going. Age Gap etc... Sometime around 04 - 05 I built a kit bike. CCI, Hard Core II, 110 Rev Tech . When it was finished I thought it was the cats as-. So I brought it out to go show it off to my pardners at the local tavern. Comming off the interstate I was stuck at a traffic light under the overpass. I'm sittin there, under the bridge, listening to the roar and thump waitin for the light to change when an elderly guy, maybe in his 80's ( I was in my 50's) pulled up beside me on a Susuki Bergman 750 scooter. Set of golf clubs bungeed on, double knit pants, loafers etc... me in my sleeve less tee shirt, do rag, leather vest and boots. We glanced over at each other, nodded, revved up the motors and we knew it was on! The light changed green and I never saw anything but a nine iron, a pitching wedge and his a-- about 40 yards ahead! Lets put this way.. we are all in this together regardless of our preferences. Motor heads are motor heads!! Before I took Geratol I couldn't spit over my chin, now I take Geratol and can spit all over my chin! Hang in there guys and happy motoring.
I used to hate working on Bergmans back in my motorcycle tech days. The owners, well not all of them, just one guys, was very "particular" but not in a good way. Those things would get up and move, though. I always wanted to ride one with a leather pilot's cap, a long scarf and a fake tramp stamp that said "born to raise hell".
Besides the fun of it, racing games introduce us all of car models, attributes and pros and cons of their own respected ability. From Outrun for the Genesis, Rad Racer(NES), Daytona USA (Sega Saturn), and beyond, as racing games progresses with better graphics/gameplay to bring us all entertainment at our living rooms, It feels as If we're driving an actual car of our dreams depending on the game we're playing of course.
In some ways I agree with you. I guess we differ on the experience of driving cars we only dreamed of because in more than one case, with more than one game (The Gran Tourismo series as well as Forza), there are many rides that when driven on the game feel slow, slow to react, sluggish, etc. Two of those cases that I can think of are the 80s 5.0 'stangs, the Minis, as well as some of the RX-7s, and some of the 911 Porsches. I can tell you from having driven all but the mini, the experience in the driver's seat of any of the aforementioned rides is anything but how they are portrayed in the games.
I think they give you a taste, but nowhere NEAR the real experience.
“It feels as If we're driving an actual car of our dreams.... “
It’s really just all in you head. You’ll know that as soon as you really get the car of your dreams. 🤦♂️
Nail on head there Jim all that U said Iam going out to the shop and pull the cover off the old girl crack the door toss a couple exhaust hoses on and fire it up sir back with the steering wheel that feels so thin crank up the tunes warm that rat up that will make my day,you have just reminded me of just how much I miss that passion having to put it in to hibernation nearly 6 months of the year.Cheers R
Correct you are, sir. This weekend the Cougar is coming out. Is it unrefined compared to the supercars depicted in said games? Sure. Is it fun. Absolutely. Can it be a handful? In the wrong hands which is what makes driving it an experience. Like you said, looking out the windshield, the feeling in the seat when you hit the gas, the feedback on a tight curve, and that glorious sound when you downshift to take those curves along with the the reaction of the car all make it unequalled by a game.
I totally agree with you that the real experience is a must to understand and I have ride in some autos that I never thought I would be in, however, not everyone has that luxury or luck in this case. But I agree, you have to know the real experience without a doubt.
@Rob1 I’m with ya. Just did that a couple of days ago with an early streak of nice weather here in flyover. Backed the car out, up and down the drive to flex the tires a little and let it get up to temp. Still another month or so until it comes out in earnest. But even that was as satisfying as any game I’ve ever played.
Well, I went to back the Cougar out and take her for a nice ride. When I opened the door I saw no interior lights so that sort of killed in. On the charger most of the day. So this weekend, part of my birthday present to myself is going to be taking her out for a nice run, and putting the plate behind the back seat.
I'm sittin here past midnight trying to unwind. Got my 64 Falcon out today for a burn and was to stoked to sleep so I decided to check up on some of yall. Thought I would check up on Sam Adams and his topic (Why racing games matter) revealed itself. Flipping through the latest Hemmings Motor News Mag ( April issue page 48 ) there is an article on this topic. Although it is dated, it made me think that we have all crawled before we could walk. It's an old board game. I think I should go to bed now..........................!
Good point. I remember flipping through the pages of all the car mags WAY before getting my first car. When I did get it, all of the reading of tech articles, sitting on the fender well of some of Dad's cars while he wrenched, a learning things from him, his friends, having auto mechanics classes available in high school, etc., all got me prepared for what I was doing.
With many industrial classes being dropped in schools, I see generations without skills we would have considered rudimentary when we were young.
From what I understand and have witnessed is that there is a shortage of skilled labor these days. What I consider craft labor. If we don't grow up with it or around it, it's like a foreign language. Some of the best mechanics, welders, pipefitters etc. can outsmart an average engineer anyday. Don't get me wrong. I know some engineers who know how to get it on in the shop. They know the tools and have the skill to use em. Hang in there yall.
As a reply to the thread as a whole, different strokes for different folks. All kinds of less than authentic representations can and have translated into real enthusiasts and a boom to the culture as a whole.
The number of people directly involved in motorsports and car culture who cite "The Fast And Furious" as the reason for their involvement is staggering. And I don't think I need to outline how ridiculous those movies are from a reality standpoint.
Gran Turismo doesn't make you a race car driver, but it's important for car culture in the same way Star Trek was important for the space program etc.