Us peasants have a tricky time when it comes to doing what we love. Lack of money and motivation ultimately confines our childhood ambitions (whatever they may have been) to the side-lines. With motorsport being what it is, only those with hefty funds, exceptional driving skill and engineering prowess really have a chance to excel in the sport. Anyone who tries to argue with any of those points is just kidding themselves. Sure enough, club racing may be cheap, but the fun comes to a halt when some mercurial Barry writes your car off after missing his braking-marker.
But, eventally we get fed a crumb or two, and therein lies the beauty of e-Sports. For those unfamiliar with e-Sports, it is competition involving video games. This includes games such as League of Legends and FIFA, to name a few. However, despite the ever-increasing market for this category, it has already met considerable criticism, primarily for labelling itself as a ‘sport’. The concept of the less-than-ideal candidate becoming champion of the world is not as appealing as that of say, Lewis Hamilton. Yet, what e-Sports provides is the ability for people to fulfil their ambitions despite the lack of opportunity in the real world. And that argument is perfectly sound.
I learned of this first-hand toward the end of last year where I qualified for the Gran Turismo New Zealand Championship, hosted by Australasian e-Sports powerhouse, LetsPlayLive . I was among the eight drivers in the country to have qualified to compete for the national trophy – something alien to me, but nevertheless a hell of an opportunity. Even though I walked away with no trophy to my name, what it provided was so much more than an accolade. The experience of being the main event, knowing that I was amongst the best in the country on live TV was something I dreamed of when I was a kid. Granted, the competition was not held on the real Bathurst circuit with real Nissan GT-R’s, but need I ask what the alternative is for people who can not afford such a luxury? I am thankful for the opportunity given by the fine folks at LetsPlayLive and would hope to relive that experience all over again.
The event was shrugged off by many people within the motor racing circles as being an ‘illegitimate’ competition. That they couldn’t take the idea of driving on a PlayStation requiring any talent. Whilst I would agree that using an arcade racer would eradicate any legitimacy when attempting to stage an e-Sports competition involving race-car driving, when a proper simulator is used with real race-car drivers in the field, it should be given its due credit. These people were either racing drivers whom never succeeded in motorsport without the help of a big chequebook, or their peers who blindingly follow their ideals.
Am I bitter? Of course not. I will never be the next Michael Schumacher and I sure as hell was never meant to be. However, there are those out there who have the talent required to be successful in motorsport. They have all that is needed to prosper in this fickle and unforgiving sport, except the financial stability or corporate backing to make it happen. Are we to deny them a chance to demonstrate their skills and compete on the world stage? Or are we to make real competition fair, cheap and competitive? Knowing the head honchos in motorsport, I guess it fair to assume that the latter would not even be considered. Therefore, we must look toward e-Sports, as it is paving the way for the virtual future.
Josh Revell is a writer and eSports competitor who specialises in motorsport. Under the BOX THIS LAP format, Revell also manages a podcast, with episodes streaming every fortnight. Be sure to check back here for weekly content and follow him on Twitter for his views and opinions on all the happenings in the world of motorsport.