Celebrating 15 Years of Gran Turismo

FeaturesGran Turismo Series 125 December 22, 2012 by

On Sunday, December 23, 2012, Gran Turismo celebrates its 15th anniversary. First released on the PlayStation Console in Japan on December 23, 1997, the series has revolutionized the gaming industry, the automotive industry, and changed quite a few lives along the way.

This special guest post by Amar212, a GT insider and owner of Croatian fan site GTSurgeons, captures the feelings of many long-time fans as the series passes this important milestone.

– Jordan, GTPlanet Founder

We love cars. There is no other explanation.

I still remember my childhood memories, laying on my parents’ bed and watching coloured lights reflecting from cars passing below the windows of the bedroom, casting on the ceiling. I remember knowing the marquee of the every car I saw on the street, playing game of guessing with my mom that learned all car-types with help of her five year old son.

I remember drawing cars with friends during elementary school from the local automotive-magazine, both of us dreaming of becoming car designers one day. I remember spending all my money on car-collectors cards every time I traveled to Italy or Austria with my parents, and wasting insane amounts of time arguing with my friends at high-school about the perfection that was the first generation of the Subaru Impreza.

I remember watching F1 races and cheering for Villeneuve when he took the World Championship over Schumacher. I remember speeding around the city at 3am with my lunatic friend in his Renault 5 Turbo while praying I don’t die. I remember holding for the roll-bars inside touring-spec Skoda, trying to maintain my bottom on the reservoir at the back while car was eating the pavement of the Grobnik track and the Croatian Touring Champion yelling there is nothing I should worry about as he drove 200 km/h over bumpy chicanes.

“15 Years, 1 Lap: Trial Mountain” by daan

And I remember the day I started playing Gran Turismo. It was 1998, I was at college and had so many more important things to do in my life then playing video-games. I remember a guy I knew from clubbing telling me about some crazy new game that just arrived which I could be interested with. He gave me the disc the day after, commenting that he is not really interested because everything has to be unlocked and he does’t have patience for that. I came home, made my ordinary coffee and closed the doors of the room. Seeing dawn at the Grand Valley for the first time, flags opening with the breeze that brought a bird on the signal-light and mechanics walking near delivery truck that had just brought a GT-R at the empty course. And that day everything begun.

I still have my original GT save. White Mazda Demio as the first car, proud owner of Nismo 400R, both black Castrol Supras and all 3 colours of Cerbera LM. I still remember all races, vivid dreams of chasing that NSX with a Viper in the Normal Car Championship, and the beautiful colours of midnight in the SSR11 Endurance with the GT-One. Memory Card Battles with my friends. 99 laps replays of the Trial Mountain races. And golding all Licenses with my d’Oro signature pasted all over the leaderboard. All those memories are still alive.

Everything in the genre changed with Gran Turismo. One small group of enthusiasts lead by a dark haired guy that smokes his menthol cigarettes while smiling and patiently explaining his teenage visions brought one passion alive for millions of players around the world. Since 1997 Gran Turismo re-invented one complete genre and paved the foundations for what we have today. Looking back, I really can’t even imagine the distance we’ve actually traveled in just 15 years.

“15 Years, 1 Lap: Deep Forest Raceway” by daan

Back in my college-room I played the first Gran Turismo with ordinary controller on a small Sony Trinitron, imagining this just has to be the best simulation I will ever play in my entire life. It just couldn’t be better then that. No way. It was pure perfection.

Today, just 5500 days later – and it is just 5500 days later – we can play that same Gran Turismo in FullHD on multi-monitor setups in 3D, with stunning 7.1 PCM audio, insane FFB wheels and pedals under our palms and feet and our friends blasting around us in online multiplayer races. Everything has changed, but nothing has changed. The same passion drives all of us today.

When I look back, I have so many stories spanning over the last 15 years that are Gran Turismo related. Waiting until midnight to get my copy of GT2 to play it on small Amiga monitor in B/W because it couldn’t display the NTSC signal in colour. Taking pictures in front of the giant GT3 light-board at E3 2001 and standing in line to try the game for the first time, ten thousand kilometres from home. My ex-girlfriend going insane over me cancelling the weekend plans because GT3 just arrived. My friend being the first of us that bought a FFB wheel that revolutionized the GT experience towards what we take as granted today. Organizing the first Croatian GT Championship sponsored by Sony back in 2002. Travelling to London almost a decade ago to play GT4: Prologue on the revolutionary 900-degree wheel and having a chance to try the Subaru GT simulator. Watching that smiling Japanese guy blasting though Citta di Aria with Nissan 350Z LM Concept LM Race Car while security-guy politely asking him to stop playing because showfloor is closing, without having idea that guy is the Vice President of the company that is paying him that day. Writing my first article on the www.granturismo.com (Kenji, thank you for memories!) about two hours talking with Yamauchi that same rainy day in London, which is still buried somewhere within GTPlanet’s archives. Dreaming about having my own GT community one day. Getting hold of infamous BMW Series 1 demo and coding the 480MB video of Nordschliefe for Jordan, back in the time when YouTube didn’t exist and 480MB of data was the size of mountain. Carrying insane amounts of equipment for 6-player LAN weekend-parties at my friends’ who lived on the top floor of a building without an elevator…

“15 Years, 1 Lap: Grand Valley Speedway” by daan

And playing Gran Turismo. For all those years.

Many games have something that Gran Turismo does not have, but no other game have what Gran Turismo has. It is not easy to explain what it is and I really think it will never be. It is not just the beautiful graphics, stunning attention to detail, chasing the last possible technical innovation with every iteration of the series, unique musical background, great physical feel of driving delivered by magic of Tan-san or the insane amount of content that allures all type of players that even remotely love cars.

It is not the poetry of driving at dusk over LeMans with no HUD with rain just starting to pour over Mulsanne and going through every car in garage in order to change oil and repair the mechanical damage of the engines. It is not collecting all possible variations of Skylines, coming back to GT3 to compare the specs of the models between games or visiting GT2 to remember the trills of driving 155 Touring Car over Rome Night. Is is also not spending hours and hours in online lobbies with your friends chatting about everything in life while lapping Top Gear course or losing the podium for 0.300 after 20 laps race in some of the thousands inter-forums championships. It is nothing of that – and it is all of that. And it still can’t be easily explained by words.

You have to feel it. And you have to fall in love with it. In the same way that small kid fell in love with bouncing coloured lights on the ceiling of his parents’ bedroom.

“15 Years, 1 Lap: Special Stage Route 5” by daan

Thank you for everything in the past 15 years Polyphony Digital team. Thank you for your sleepless nights under the tables of the offices at Tobu Toyosu Building. Thank you for your love of cars, photography, history, French wines, Italian sceneries, American muscle cars, beauty of the nature and philosophy of human civilization. Thank you for the passion that drove you even in the hardest personal and professional moments during past 5500 days. Thank you for your unexplained commitment to stand against all criticism and always newfound strength that make all your efforts even greater.

Thank you for everything Kazunori Yamauchi and all other people who made Gran Turismo becoming reality. Thank you for everything all of you Gran Turismo players over the world. Thank you for everything all the numerous GT communities worldwide.

All of us together made one love alive.

Thank you for the 15th anniversary of the Gran Turismo.

Commemorative desktop wallpaper (1600×1200 & 1920×1280) by Amar212.

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