How sim racing brought me closer to my childhood

I've been into racing games from the start. The first game I ever bought was Need for Speed 2 when I was in the third grade, and I have so many fond memories playing it with my brother and dad, tap-tapping away on the arrow keys to steer sleek sportscars around opponents, corners and obstacles, racing a Ferrari F50 through the outback or a McLaren F1 somewhere pretty in Vancouver.

These days, I live on another continent to the house I grew up in, I write about playing computer games for a living and everything seems to be going a bit mad in the world - but I still meet up with my brother to play racing games. But instead of crowding around the family computer, waiting for the CD drive to spool up and load the next level, we play on a modern game console with the sort of photorealistic graphics that Need for Speed 2 has in my memory... but definitely doesn't if I go back to check.

The release of Gran Turismo 7 - and the unprecedented excitement of Formula 1's 2021 season - made me want to take things a bit more seriously. So earlier this year, I ordered Fanatec's DD GT Pro, a wheel-and-pedals set built around a modestly powerful but nonetheless fancy direct drive system that's meant to offer more detailed and realistic force feedback than cheaper belt-driven wheels.

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