McLaren has launched an EGaming competition, with new sponsor Logitech, to find the best simulation-racing gamer in the world with the winner offered a one-year contract with the Formula 1 team to work as a simulator driver.
The ‘World’s Fastest Gamer’ format has the best gamers compete across numerous racing simulations, with McLaren branding it “the best job in eSports”. It has been developed in association with Darren Cox, the man behind the GT Academy project, which put gamers like Jann Mardenbrough into real motorsport series, including Le Mans.
The winner of the competition will then work with engineers at McLaren’s Technology Centre and at grand prix venues around the world to improve Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne’s simulation equipment.
All stages of the format will be streamed via a YouTube channel and McLaren’s social media, a path McLaren seems very willing to go down seeing as Wednesday’s live-stream of Alonso’s IndyCar test garnered more than two million views in all, according to YouTube. The stream peaked at around 70,000 concurrent views.
Six international gamers will be picked to participate by F1 experts and professional gamers to join, with four more selected through a qualifying process which begins in summer 2017.
The final will take place in autumn at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey. The 10 sim-racers will race against each other on a number of gaming titles on different platforms. The judges will assess the participants’ engineering expertise, teamwork skills and mental and physical qualities.
The simulations themselves are not just restricted to high-end simulator platforms but McLaren implies that mobile gaming could feature as well, to make the competition more accessible.
According to McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown, “The winner will genuinely be a key part of our team at McLaren.
“This is for real: we absolutely require additional support across our two simulator platforms, so the competition and the selection process will be rigorous, ruthless and compelling to watch.
“We’ve long witnessed the growth of online sports gaming, and, right now, the parallels between the real and the virtual worlds have never been closer.
“This is absolutely the right time to be creating such a unique and exciting proposition; one that connects the worlds of racing and gaming in a way that’s never been explored before.”
JA reported in 2016 that real-time gaming between simulation drivers and F1 drivers is close to reality according to F1’s Chief Technical Officer John Morrison.
“We launched our virtual Grand Prix channel [in 2016], which gives us the platform to produce a fully virtual version of the race live using the data,” said Morrison. “The thing we have to crack is we have to produce accurate positioning.
“Then we can do the gaming stuff and you can be in the car racing against other drivers. I reckon we are about two years away from that. We need accuracy to the nearest centimetre, so cars aren’t touching when they shouldn’t be touching. Right now we are more at 100-200mm accuracy. I want fans to have a really immersive experience to get very close to the action. We are nearly there now.”
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According to McLaren, teams such as Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City have launched similar crossovers between the virtual world and reality, with eSports catching up with viewership figures for sports like baseball and ice hockey. Many prefer watching the gaming version of a sport to its real-life equivalent.
According to Forbes, the industry adds $11.7 billion a year to the US GDP, with $24.5 billion spent by US consumers on the medium in 2016 with an average consumer age of 38.
The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) says that the global market was worth $91 billion in 2016, with mobile gaming taking up most of that, growing 20% year on year. With those staggering growth figures and UKIE’s claim that the eSports market will grow to being worth $1.4 billion in 2019, it’s no wonder that McLaren is launching their gaming initiative in summer 2017.
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