Gran Turismo 7’s Dedication To Car Culture May Be Its Biggest Roadblock

Gran Turismo 7’s Dedication To Car Culture May Be Its Biggest Roadblock

Gran Turismo 7 really wants players to respect car culture, and I wonder if that might throw a spanner in the works.

Gran Turismo 7 director Kazunori Yamauchi spent a lot of time across our two-day preview talking about Polyphony Digital’s new driving sim would accommodate new players and returning veterans alike. The feeling I couldn’t escape was that a generational shift had occurred in the time since the original Gran Turismo, and Yamauchi knew it.

The term that was repeated throughout the preview, the interview roundtable, and even this morning’s State of Play broadcast, was “car culture.” In several asides, Yamauchi noted that people didn’t really talk about cars the way they used to when he was younger. And that’s true. They don’t.

Yamauchi is 54 years old. He was born in 1967, putting him squarely in Elder Gen-X territory. I point this out because it makes sense for someone his age to feel a bit bewildered by this change of attitude. There is a sizeable contingent of Gen-Xers that share their parents love of cars. Baby Boomers were, of course, obsessed with cars in early adulthood. Cars were becoming more affordable, and more powerful. For Boomers, cars were as much a status symbol as they were a direct pathway to personal freedom. For this, they were venerated.

As successive generations arrived, the significance of the car in popular culture began to diminish. No longer a revolutionary tool, they became just another fact of life for most. Their importance diminished further in the eyes of these younger generations as environmental consciousness and interest in the long-delayed electric vehicle began to build.

All this to say, if cars were less important to Millennials than they were to Xers and Boomers, they may not matter to Zoomers at all. That would be a problem for a game like this.

One of Gran Turismo 7‘s most vaunted features is the Museum located in the shopping mall menu. Here, when not purchasing new cars for their collection, players can explore a museum that recounts the history of each automaker in meticulous detail. The point is that the game wants you to understand that these vehicles are important, that they have a place in the culture. It’s all presented in the austere, rose-tinted manner of someone remembering “the good old days.”

The other feature in which Gran Turismo 7 insists we Take Car Culture Seriously is the Gran Turismo Cafe. The cafe offers a literal menu of cars to collect. As you tick each car off, the cafe might give you a sit-down with the very people that designed your latest car. These legends of car design and motorsport will stick around for a chat and a coffee, and tell you all about their life’s work.

Maybe I’m expecting the worst from people here, but I can’t imagine this being terribly interesting or amusing to people who aren’t already fully immersed in car or racing culture. My own elder-millennial interest in Drive to Survive was a gateway to Formula 1 fandom, but that’s really the only motorsport I’m interested in. I don’t even care that much about my own real-world car. I know a lot of people my age that feel similarly.

Given how much PlayStation has made about Gran Turismo 7‘s ability to bring new players in, I don’t doubt that newbies will have an easier time getting started. Features like the museum and the cafe appear to grate against that intent in the abstract because they feel like they play to a more knowledgeable crowd.

Right now, all of this is just a gut feeling. I hope it all pays off and Gran Turismo 7 is able to capture the precise hearts and minds it’s aiming for. Maybe Yamauchi’s pleas to respect revhead culture will take. Perhaps he can make a convert of me yet. I look forward to finding out when it launches on PlayStation 5 in March.

Comments

  • Hmm, wont disagree with this, as it indeed probably is too in depth and ‘info dump’ for people that dont already care.
    But it also sounds really awesome thing someone like me in the middle of these two extremes. I can imagine myself spending a ton of time using those two features. as im jusat interested enough i’d like to know that stuff with this type of easy fun access. But not serious enough to have already known a lot of the presented info.

  • Embracing car culture works. Why else is Forza horizon so popular, It’s literally an entire game around car culture.

    Car culture is still a huge group. I’m a part of it and there are loads of us online. If GT wants to lean into it like Forza has I’m all for it.

    • If polyphonic wants to lean into car culture, they need to fix the god damn engine sounds. Even though horizon 4 had some of the worst sounds in the series, its still vastly better than anything GT has ever done.

      I want an R34 to sound like an RB26, not a lawn mower. When I drive a TT supra I want it to sound like a 2JZ, not grandma’s Toyota Carolla.

      GT has always had some of the worst sounding engines in video games. Which is funny given the game strives for accuracy yet drops all accuracy when it comes to engine sounds.

      • Well they made a lot of hay about how great the sound processing is for the PS5 so maybe you’ll get your wish.

      • Did you play GT sport? The sounds are a big improvement over past entries. Forza switched to synthetically generated sounds a while back for more flexibility with tuning parts and adding more cars. I find that Forza sounds are good in that they are a bit exaggerated, which makes sense for games where you might be playing with the volume down a bit or using a camera where you can’t hear the cars as you would being at a race track in real life or something like that. I like their approach on one hand but the sounds can be grating to me at times.

        Coincidentally polyphony hired the guy that used to record all the sounds for Forza some time ago before GT sport. So they are taking very different approaches these days, but technically Polyphony are the studio that should be giving you more accurate sound. It just depends on how they mix the various sounds they record. The other issue is tuning parts and whether they change sound correctly or at all. In this way Forza will likely continue to have the upper hand, but we’ll just have to see.

  • For many, Gran Turismo was the avenue into car culture. It’s also the reason there is a damn Miata parked in my garage…

  • Roadblock to what exactly? It sells fantastically well. Why make yet another bland Codemasters style game to cater to the masses? Not everything needs to appeal to everyone.

  • As someone who got into car culture because of the original GT and to a smaller extent Collin McRae Rally it’s hard to say how much of this was down to just the games or that the era and where I grew up still strongly supported car culture.

    On the one hand I do see a lot of young people still really getting into cars because of games, but on the other I have no desire myself to buy a loud, smelly, polluting, unreliable money hole/car like I did in my teens. I guess it comes down to the old question of how much are video games a catalyst for influencing real world desires or how much are they a complete replacement for them. The idealist in me hopes for the latter – kids get into car culture through games but no longer buy some 30yr old death trap and proceed to almost kill themselves and others on the street.

    *Removes old man hat

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!