Think you're good at Gran Turismo? Want to risk your life behind the wheel of a real-life race car? Oh boy, do you ever!
You have to assume that there is a wanna-be racer locked inside the heart of almost everyone who plays realistic racing games like Gran Turismo. After all, that sort of game isn't something like Mario Kart; these are games that are made or broken on their authenticity, and you play them for a real-world experience.
But does skill at Gran Turismo equal potential skill in a real-world racing environment?
Sony and Nissan think it could. In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Sony announced that it had teamed up with Nissan North America for GT Academy, a competition that takes Gran Turismo 5 players and turns one of them into a real-life professional race car driver.
Starting December 20, participants will compete in regional GT5 trials online - using only Nissan cars, natch - that narrow the field down to the top 32 contestants. Those 32 will become a crew of 16 finalists invited to a live "national finals event" in March, where their virtual skills will be put to the test in meatspace trials behind the wheel of actual race cars.
The sole winner of the GT Academy will be invited to train in the big leagues - in real life, this time - and will eventually join a pro racing team, where they will get to risk their actual lives in one of the more dangerous professional sports around. But then again, I suppose that's kind of the appeal, isn't it?
While this competition is only open to GT fans in the United States - and if you're one of those interested, you can learn more at the official site - Sony will be taking the competition and releasing it as a reality TV series via PSN and the SPEED TV channel.
"With the upcoming launch of Gran Turismo 5, it's a very exciting time to team with Nissan to announce GT Academy," said Sony's VP of marketing, Scott A. Steinberg. "With the realistic racing experience that only Gran Turismo 5 provides, GT Academy will identify someone who truly has the skills to become a pro race car driver, providing the chance of a lifetime to win the ultimate prize."
Can being a skilled gamer transfer into real-life abilities? It's an interesting question, and one we may see the answer to in Sony's GT Academy. It's an interesting experiment if nothing else.
Gran Turismo 5 is scheduled to finally hit shelves on November 24th after numerous, numerous delays.