Racing games are typically non-violent, and they can calm stress in a few different ways. Choosing easy courses that you’ve raced before or solo test laps without the pressure of competition brings low stress, and a good performance is always rewarding. Taking a beautiful car you can’t afford for a scenic ride somewhere you’ve never been can melt away any petrolhead’s worries after a long day.
Surprisingly, intense racing can also reduce stress (in the long run). High-speed racing with close competition a few times each week can train your brain to decrease signalling that causes increases in adrenaline, sweat and heart rate. In turn, you will be better able to control yourself in other real world stressful situations.
Whether a crew chief is firing away over the radio or a co-driver is navigating the course ahead, a driver must process several layers of information while keeping their attention on driving in the moment. At any time in a racing game, the driver could be assessing damage and wear on the vehicle, looking through an upcoming turn or determining how to overtake a competitor. We no longer practice using only visual information, but also using wheel feedback and audio tips.
Taking in all the information from multiple sources and processing it to form mid-race strategies requires the ability to multitask. With so many inputs hitting you simultaneously, every race demands complete focus to make it to the finish line. Maintaining focus throughout a long race, or series of races, may help your concentration in work or school related tasks.
The mesh of a 3D world and force feedback allows us to more easily store memories by bringing reality and fiction closer together. If we can trick ourselves into halfway believing we are really driving, we can later access the memories made in the race more easily as near facts. This doesn’t work the same for monotonous mobile games.
Last year, research from the University of California at Irvine showed a clear difference in memory improvement between gamers playing 3D interactive games versus 2D repetitive games. Gamers who played a 3D interactive game 30 minutes a day for two weeks saw an immediate 12 per cent increase in memory scores.
If you want to exercise your brain’s decision-making abilities, fire up a multiplayer session. Forcing yourself to make quick calls under tight racing, time and space constraints will help you make faster on-the-spot decisions. High-speed multiplayer games beg from the driver thousands of decisions per race, making mental speed a hot commodity.
For you dedicated drivers who practice driving lines and aggressive tactics before facing your competition, mapping out a plan is essential before a race. If you can visualise your race before it begins and use your mistakes to plan for the next event, you’re bound to increase your strategic and problem solving capacity.
The link between improved eye-hand coordination and video games has long been confirmed. Racing games provide unique training exercises for coordination when paired with a force feedback wheel and pedals. Regular racing can help you react faster and more accurately to visual and physical interactions in real life.
In a study conducted by the Department of Psychology at NC State University, researchers found that older adults who were regular gamers scored consistently higher than non-gamers in a variety of mental ageing measures. The regular gamers had a higher sense of well-being and health than their counterparts. They also showed higher social function and were less likely to show signs of depression. It’s a good thing we have a long-term love affair with racing games.