Nissan Thought Gran Turismo Gamers Could Become Pro Drivers. They Were Right

Nissan Thought Gran Turismo Gamers Could Become Pro Drivers 1 photo
While you were busy blaming all those youngsters who’d spend countless hours in front of their comps, playing these “stupid games,” Nissan was busy looking for the best gamers in the world for the last seven years. It turns out they didn’t just waste time. Believe it or not, some of them turned into professional drivers.
Seven years ago, Nissan and PlayStation partnered up in Europe to create what at first was a mere experiment: the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy. They wanted to see if a Gran Turismo gamer could actually transfer his skills from the virtual world to the real one, on the track.

Fast forward to present times and the so-called Academy has attracted over five million entrants, thus becoming an established route into top-level motorsport. Are you surprised? What if we told you that the program’s talented alumni continue to deliver race wins and podiums for Nissan in a variety of championships across the globe? Here’s what Nissan found in figures:

“In 2015, 24 countries across the world have participated in three virtual-to-reality competitions. The fastest gamers on PlayStation’s Gran Turismo racing game take part in three ultra-competitive Race Camps where their skills and determination are put to the test behind the wheel of Nissan performance cars such as the 370Z and GT-R, under the tutelage of world-class racing drivers. The three winners then take part in Nissan’s all-encompassing Driver Development Program to ready them for a career as a racing driver.

Take Lucas Ordonez is an MBA student from Spain who spearheaded the program in 2008. He now races for Nissan in the Super GT500 class in Japan and has two LeMans 24 Hour podium finishes to his name. Or look at what Jann Mardenborough did with his gig at the Academy. The 2011 winner from the UK competes in the GP3 series and, according to Nissan, took another step towards Formula 1 last weekend when he raced in the GP2 class in Monza, Italy.

Gaming doesn’t sound that bad, after all, does it? If you need to find out more, feel free to check out the adjacent press. Meanwhile, we’ll take a break and turn on Gran Turismo on the PlayStation in the other room.
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