Imagine, for a moment, being so good at a video game that you make that into a career. Iím not talking about being so good at gaming that you become a professional gamer and compete in Major League Gaming. What Iím referring to is being so good at a game that you take the skills and concepts found in said game and begin applying it in real life.
Today, World of Warcraft, tomorrow, THE WORLD!
Every year, Electronic Arts holds a Madden NFL competition. Gamers from all over the U.S. compete and the best eventually meet up at around the time the Super Bowl is played where someone is crowned the winner. What if winning meant a shot at becoming a coach on a professional team? What if being the best Madden player in the country gave you a shot at becoming a professional football player? Seems pretty outlandish, no?
Donít bother us. Weíre training for the NFL combine.
Well, last weekend, that scenario pretty much played out in the town of Le Mans, France and instead of Football it was auto racing. Three years ago, a young lad named Jann Mardenborough competed in a contest to find the best Gran Turismo player in the UK, which he won. He then competed against the best Gran Turismo players in Europe in a contest and reality show called the GT Academy, getting a chance to get behind the wheel and race around the track at Silverstone Raceway in England. He won that as well.
Usually, you donít hear much about what happens to the winners from reality television shows. In many cases, their lives probably go back to normal. Mardenborough could have easily have returned back to his home in Cardiff and went back to school or got a job.
Mardenborough competing in GT Academy
According to English tabloid The Sun, he was thinking about studying furniture design at University, but he had some real racing skills that did not go unnoticed. Three years later, he was behind the wheel of a high performance professional race car, competing in one of the most historic and prestigious races in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Iím sure he struggled with this decision between furniture design and auto racing. Do you pick driving fast versus upholstery? How about exotic cars and locations versus shabby chic? Would you rather hobnob with the rich, famous and beautiful while becoming rich and famous yourself versus studying the virtues of shaker book shelves?
Itís either this, or crafting mission style dressers.
Le Mans does not get a lot of publicity in the U.S. It may be because the cars turn left AND right. This concept is confusing and downright terrifying to fans of NASCAR. However, as a self-proclaimed auto enthusiast, I can say that Le Mans is quite an event. Some of the best drivers from around the world travel to this small town in France to compete in a 24-hour endurance race piloting the finest cars imaginable. Itís also one of the oldest auto races going back since 1923. Unfortunately itís also one of the most dangerous as crashes and fatalities are common. At this yearís race, Danish driver Allan Simonsen died after crashing early in the race.
It was quite the accomplishment for Mardenborough to make it even this far and compete. The fact that his team was competitive and came in 10th out of 56 entrants, now that is quite impressive. Whatís also impressive and refreshing, I may add, is that this is a feel good story that puts video games in a good light. Video games get blamed for some heinous acts. Itís nice to hear something positive in the media of my preferred hobby.
Mardenborough with his Le Mans co-drivers.
Mardenboroughís ultimate goal is to make it to Formula 1. The fact that heís driving in Formula 3 now and has a Le Mans under his belt, Iíd say that the future is bright for this young fellow. Who knows, someday, someone who cut his or her teeth on Gran Turismo can be piloting a Formula 1 Ferrari. Iím rooting for Mardenborough. As a gamer and as a racing fan, I hope for his continued success and safety on the track and hope to see him one day piloting the big Formula 1 cars.