Why does going 200 km/h In A Racing Game Look Like Going 100 km/h In Real Life?


Specifically games like Forza and Need for Speed, are these games just not realistic or is there another reason?

In: 2

You lack peripheral vision in those games. In real life we have a field of view of about 180°, so you are surrounded by things moving super fast around you. Not on a screen. Try going 100km/h while reducing your field of view by placing your hands on each side of your head, if will feel slower.

They use a technique called scaling, it’s the same reason 1/10 scale RC cars can go 500mph “at scale”. They’re really going 50mph, but x10 and you arrive at unrealistic speeds. It adds drama and challenge to the game. Many games are designed at between half and 20th scale.

ETA: not everything in the physical world scales equally or in a linear fashion, so that’s why you have some irregularities in how a game may look and feel relative to real life – in particular dynamic forces, like wind resistance and even gravity don’t scale the same as base units like inches or grams.

There are a lot of factors to speed perception. Obviously we as humans don’t have a built-in speedometer, we deduce speed from outside influences such as acceleration (which we can sense), the movement of other objects in our field of view, vibrations coming from the car, the sound of the rushing wind outside and the sound of the engine.

However in a videogame you lack most of these, your only two tools are the in-game speedometer and the visual queues from the objects passing by. The latter is quite tricky to convey properly because objects rushing by on a flat screen can never quite adequately replicate what its like in real life. A VR headset does get around that problem, and that’s why the sense of speed is much better in VR racing games.

A point to consider from the real world is that your brain somehow gets used to it and is not good at perceiving absolute speed.

For example, anyone who has driven 200 km/h on the autobahn will tell you that speed perception gets distorted and after a while might feel like you’re only driving 120 km/h. You notice this perception change when you pull off onto the exit to a rest place and realise you’re still going 120 km/h.