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Gran Turismo Sport wants to turn everyone into a racing driver

Gaming: new FIA Digital License offers first step towards a motorsport career

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With the Nissan GT Academy program, the Playstation-exclusive Gran Turismo series has been converting videogame players into real life racers for the better part of a decade now.

The only problem is that qualification is limited to a handful of supernaturally talented sim-racing Jedi. Gran Turismo Sport, out in November, aims to bring a taste of that experience to the enthusiastic-but-rubbish as well.

Gone is the stalwart single player GT Mode from previous titles in the series, replaced with interactive tuition designed to hone your driving skills, teach racing etiquette and prepare you for the real meat of the game, the multiplayer ‘Sport Mode’.

Designed as a fully functioning motorsport calendar, Sport Mode offers up sanctioned, FIA events on weekends, full 24-hour races and daily challenges. Basically it turns your PS4 into what Lewis Hamilton sees when he boots up his schedule in the morning. Get really good and you’ll end up participating in live-streamed, live-commentated events, culminating in an FIA World Final.

If the prospect of competing against an army of basement-dwelling, sim-racing cyborgs frightens you, then worry not. You’ll be matched with players of similar ability, and the idea is that every player will have the opportunity to compete for some imaginary silverware.

There’ll also be a ‘sportsmanship rating’ that punishes collisions between drivers, which will be a relief to anyone who has ventured into an online race and been obliterated by a carbon fibre freight train as they tip-toed around the first corner on cold tyres.

Jump through an as-yet-undetermined number of hoops and you’ll earn yourself the newly announced FIA Gran Turismo Digital License. It’s a proper accreditation too, recognised by 25 motorsport clubs around the world including the MSA in the UK, ADAC in Germany and the Rwanda Automobile Club. Good news if you happen to live in Rwanda.

Before you start bulk-buying Nomex underwear, though, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to drag your Playstation 4 to Snetterton, point expectantly at your online profile and step straight into a motor race, but it might skip some of the more boring paperwork associated with earning a race licence. The goal seems to be to give committed players a gentle nudge towards participating in grass roots motorsport rather than setting videogame hooligans loose with actual metal.

Of course, even if you limit your ambition to winning in the game, there’s still plenty to play with. When GT Sport arrives on November 18th, it’ll land with 137 meticulously fettled cars, 23 track layouts across 19 locations and over 100 campaign mode challenges. A long requested Forza-esque livery editor, a totally revamped photo mode and support for Sony’s upcoming virtual reality headgear are also promised at launch.

From a purely technical standpoint, Gran Turismo Sport doesn’t look like much of a leap beyond GT6 – a surprise, given the graphical horsepower available for the series’ PS4 debut. The important thing, though, is the philosophical change that is all but guaranteed to make you feel less like a gamer, and more like a racer. Now about those Nomex undies…

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