YouTues: the ultimate driving video game

Think it’s quite funny to have big, video game car crashes? Think again...

By Gavin Conway on January 3, 2012 3:00 PM

Those of us of a certain age will remember Sega’s brilliant driving video game ‘Outrun’ with real affection. It was a massive success for the company in an era when the very best video games were still to be found in arcades – although home systems were on the scene, too.

Most of those arcade games would involve standing in front of a large cabinet whilst flailing away at the controls. But the best of the Outrun-style games used sit-down cabinets that gave that in-car feel. Even further, the sit-down games had motors that would shake and turn the cabinet depending on what was happening on screen.

Well, the heroes of today’s YouTues video have taken that concept to a quite amazing new level. University of California Informatics research scientist Garnet Hertz posed the question, ‘what would it be like if this Outrun video game could actually be driven?’ No word on whether this was post-drinking game or not.

So he and his team created an electric vehicle that looks just like the original arcade game and can be driven on the open road. And this is where things get really weird – where the windshield would usually reside, there’s a video screen. The UCI team then came up with complex software that takes images of the scene in front of the car – relayed via roof-mounted cameras – and turns them into images that look like a 1980s video game. It’s a form of ‘augmented reality’, which is increasingly trendy.

Just one little catch… having a big crash in a video game means you go home feeling like a doofus. Having a big crash with this Outrun car means you go home in an ambulance.

And for those ‘80s gaming nostalgics out there, here’s what the game should really look like: