From Gran Turismo to real life racing: Why we shouldn't be so surprised at Jann Mardenborough's transformation

Using force-feedback steering wheels, the game was able to simulate reality

Share

Sometimes, just sometimes, games have an unwanted effect on the brain of the player that transfers into the real world.

Only this weekend, having completed The Last of Us: Left Behind, my subsequent walk to the newsagent was punctuated with the sudden urge to duck behind a few cars and stealthily make my way past a couple of neighbours chatting among themselves at the end of the road.

Had I done so, I would have looked pretty barmy, especially if I followed this up by lobbing some bricks or bottles in the opposite direction to put them off my scent. But it's not the first time this has happened.

Extended plays with Tetris made me yearn to rearrange the bricks of houses so that they would fill up windows and doors. Such madness even has a name: Tetris Syndrome. According to Wikipedia, it “occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts, mental images and dreams.” Thankfully these effects are short-term for most of us and they wear off after 30 minutes or so (certainly don't let it put you off playing Left Behind: it's poignant, emotional and compelling).

But the action in some games can have a longer-lasting and more positive effect. Jann Mardenborough, a 22-year-old from Cardiff, has become so adept at Gran Turismo 5 that the skills he has learned from playing have put him on the path to becoming a professional Formula 1 driver.

He came first in a Gran Turismo 5 competition in 2011 having played the game on his PlayStation 3 for up to four hours a day during the tournament - and he has now been signed by Red Bull as a GP3 driver for the 2014 racing season.

Within the virtual world, he was able to learn the controls of a racing car, understand the tracks and work out how the virtual vehicles would behave. All of this seeped into his brain and ensured that, from the moment he took to a real track for the very first time at the age of 19, he already had a feel for the contours ahead of him and the behaviour of the motor beneath his body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using force-feedback steering wheels and pedal sets, the game was able to simulate reality to a high degree. And he is not alone in having been positively affected by this. He took part in the Dubai 24 Hour Race in January 2012 with three previous Gran Turismo Academy winners.

But should we be surprised? Probably not. For studies which explore the theory that gaming can actually improve people's skills more often than not yield positive results. Improved hand-eye co-ordination, for example, has long been seen as a benefit of gaming to the point that surgeons who play games are said to perform better in theatre.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have also found that players of action-based games make decisions 25 per cent faster than non-players and women can better mentally manipulate 3D objects. Games can even enable players to juggle up to six things at once compared to up to four in the majority of other people, according to scientists.

And it doesn't stop there. Researchers at the University of Toronto have found games can improve visual attention. A cover story in Nature magazine explored how games (albeit ones that were specially made) could help issues such as ADHD, dementia and autism, each of which have the loss of cognitive control as a common denominator. A game called Depression Quest was designed by developer Zoe Quinn after she found online games helped her deal with late night panic attacks.

Of course, it is over-simplistic to say that games are always a force for good. Playing them for too long can, it has been shown, damage a person's social skills and lead to addiction and depression. Sitting down for lengthy periods of time could lead to thrombosis and it's not unknown for some gamers to have died after putting in too many hours. Games can also lead to poor performance at work. Former England number one goalkeeper David James explained why he conceded three goals in 1997: "I was getting carried away playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider for hours in end." Maybe he should have played FIFA.

But if you're stuck for something to do with your time now that the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board has shamed the nation by revealing we watch three hours 55 minutes and 30 seconds of TV per day, then you could do far worse than pick up a games controller.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat