A new concept ‘gaming car’ is to be unveiled at a US motor show next week, enabling gamers for the first time ever to play driving games by using the car's own steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal while the game on a flip-down seven-inch LCD screen.
To SPOnG this sounds like that recurring dream we've been having since childhood, where reality and fantasy merge seamlessly whilst we are playing the best driving game ever invented by an American software uber-corp, which in fact turns out to be us really driving in the best car ever invented by a Japanese sportscar uber-corp. Then we wake up.
Here are the real, actual facts. Nissan and Microsoft will be unveiling the new concept car, the strangely-named Nissan URGE, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan 9th. Both companies claim that the URGE is the first of its kind to integrate automobile design with gaming within a vehicle.
Conceived by Nissan Design America Inc., URGE drivers will be able to play SPOnG’s favourite 360 driving title, Project Gotham Racing 3 on a neat little flip down screen, using the car's own controls. The official press release makes it clear that the car should be parked whilst the driver is playing PGR3. SPOnG is not sure what the laws surrounding drunk driving of PGR3 whilst sitting in a Nissan URGE on a public highway are. We will be sure to put this question to both Nissan and Microsoft reps as soon as we can get them to return our voicemails.
The Urge is a small, minimalist, aluminium-based sports car exercise put together to test the waters below the 350Z. The Urge will take to the show stand in Detroit officially as a design exercise "to test reaction." If the feedback is as good as Nissan expect it to be, Nissan may well decide to develop the concept further, although any production version will probably look considerably different to this. Target price in the US is $20,000 (or £11,400 in today's money).
"Nissan conducted an Internet survey of 2,000 echo boomers, a majority of which said technology and gaming are among the most important attributes in their first car," said Bruce Campbell, vice president of design at Nissan Design America in La Jolla, California. "Xbox 360 offered the latest in technology and was already a favourite among this audience."
Echo boomers, for those SPOnG reader’s not au fait with fairly meaningless catch-all phrases only used by advertising executives, are the kids of the so-called Baby Boomers. Echo Boomers were born between the late 1970s and the early 1990s and weaned on videogames. The demographic group is known by several other names, such as the Millennial Generation (or the Millennials) and as Generation Y (or Gen Y, with individuals being Gen Yers). But the terminology is muddled, with Generation Y being limited by some to the children of Generation X parents, or those born after about 1983. So, as we say, fairly meaningless ad-exec babble. But we digress.
Check out the attached pics of the URGE beast. Design-wise, it looks to us very much like a ‘smart roadster’, which is no bad thing. We are now already getting overly excited about the idea of owning and driving one of these babies. So we will be sure to find out as soon as possible what the actual chances of the URGE making it beyond the level of mere ‘concept car’ (ie a mere PR stunt to show off at trade shows and generate column inches and online hype) through to actually being mass produced and available to buy and drive around. Or just for you to use to sit in your local Wal-Mart or Tescos car park playing PGR3.
Which really raises another question. SPOnG can understand the car modding scene’s fascination with installing games consoles into cars. Even though in actuality you’ll not play games in the back seat of the car outside of when you are at your local Pimp My Ride event, showing off the car to other like-minded modsters. But, when would you sit in the driving seat of your car in a public place and play videogames? Before you answer/ponder the question further, let us paint a mental picture for you.
You are at your local supermarket doing the weekly shopping, having your usual argument with your significant other about how much Strong Continental Fighting lager you need for the week. As you are packing up your car with your four crates of lager and small bag of groceries, you notice somebody next to you in a bright yellow Nissan URGE, appearing to drive the car, whilst it's clearly stationary and parked up. At this point your significant other also notices the man, who is making whooshing noises and staring at a small screen and looking like a right mentalist. You both laugh hard at the man, whilst you are secretly congratulating yourself on not having spent your life savings purchasing an URGE, when you had seen one featured on CNN news the previous week.
However, SPOnG would still like to offer our services to Nissan. As seasoned boy racers and gamers we would be more than willing to take the URGE for a test spin to check it out for the benefit of our readers. We will make sure to park up in the SPOnG garage to test out PGR3 though, for fear of attracting attention from mocking couples in supermarket car parks, or from Officer Dibble, thinking he’d found yet another drug-crazed driver parked up on the hard shoulder of the A1 still appearing to think he was driving.
More URGE news to follow from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan 9th. Keep it locked (with the top up).