What’s the point of games like Forza or Gran Turismo?

Here’s the great thing about games like Forza or Gran Turismo. What you should be trying to do is whatever you want. There isn’t a goal or aim, there’s no endgame. It is a toolbox for having fun with cars. Some people like to race online, others spend time tuning, taking photos, watching replays, some just paint, some just race against AI – or a combination of these.

I just like driving the cars. I fix on one for a while and will tend to hot-lap it in Rivals mode on my favourite tracks. I’m necessarily trying to beat the times of others – just learning and enjoying the car. I tend not to tune the car at first, but after a while will add some racing tires then maybe drive a bit more. Finally I’ll start adding parts.

This week I’ve been doing it with the original Mini. I started with it stock. Over the week it’s because a 4×4 race-turbo monster. And I’ve had a lot of fun flinging it around Circuit Le Sarthe.

The point of Forza (and GT and others) is having fun with cars. Each corner is an adventure. We scoff at phrases like “sense of speed”, people complaining that Silverstone is dull (because it’s not a neon lit adventure world) and obsessions about the number of spacial dimensions a spectator.

The gaming industry has become a crack dealer. People expect to be given things all the time. Unlock, unlock, unlock – a never ending reward of sweets for the rats in the box pressing the button in a Pavlovian frenzy. And so people play shitty games thinking these games are exceptional – as they are fed unlock, reward, flashing light, bonus after bonus.

But there are still places in gaming, all too few, where playing the game is its own reward. Even here things are being squeezed – the tears of a million non-playing crybabies bemoaning having to acquire skills – means the Forza economy has been rendered meaningless. But a truth remains, pick a car you love, a track with some thrilling corners and go out there and enjoy them. There’s a purity and thrill there that most games with their gaudy killstreak trinkets couldn’t match.

Just have fun.