THOUSANDS of video games have featured cars since the first driving game, Atari’s Gran Trak 10, was released in May 1974. Cars now appear in almost every video game set on contemporary Earth, but which motoring models have appeared in the most titles?
Car marketplace carwow has conducted new research to find the most popular virtual vehicle.
Using thousands of datapoints from the Internet Game Cars Database, carwow looked at video games from a number of genres including racing games such as Gran Turismo and Forza to life simulation series The Sims.
The most ubiquitous car is the humble VW Beetle. Despite its dubious beginnings — Adolf Hitler conceptualised the Volkswagen Type 1 as a cheap car for the masses, to help boost the Germany economy pre-war — the car went on to become an unmitigated success and a cultural icon, with 21.5m units sold worldwide by the time the last bug rolled off the production line last year.
As well as its own successes, designing the Beetle planted the rear-engined, air-cooled seed in Ferdinand Porsche’s mind, resulting in the Porsche 356 in 1948 and, in the 1960s, the Porsche 911.
Carwow’s consumer expert Vix Leyton said: “We like to think we know cars pretty well but with gamer Brits spending on average 6.76 hours a week playing video games, we realised we didn’t actually know much about the virtual cars of which people were behind the wheel.
“We had expectations that the most common video game cars would be over-the-top supercars or indestructible 4x4s, so it was quite a surprise to see that it was actually the classic Volkswagen Beetle that was the top model.”
Two of the franchises in which the Beetle was spotted are Gran Turismo and Need for Speed, proving it is common even in racing games noted for their much more extreme machines.
Out of the thousands of games analysed, the Beetle popped up in a 337. In a distant second place, according to the carwow data, is the Chevrolet Camaro Mk.I muscle car, with 198 appearances. This makes sense, considering many game designers are native to America. Call it a home advantage.
The fact that the Ford E-series ambulance and the Ford Crown Victoria, which you will recognise from almost every American film ever made thanks to its use as both New York taxi cab and police patrol car for many years, made the top ten isn’t too surprising when you factor in game franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, which involves frequent brushes with the law and a fair amount of violence.
It also explains the fact that Ford is the most featured car brand in video games, followed by Chevrolet and Toyota as the second and third most popular respectively.
It’s not all family hatchbacks and emergency service vehicles, however. The list of most popular video game cars is spiced up by three Ferraris in the top 10: the 2002 Enzo is fifth, the 1987 F40 is ninth and the 1995 F50 is tenth. The Enzo appears in 119 games, despite only 400 units ever being made. The F50 is even rarer.
Another survey, also conducted by carwow, found that racing game enthusiasts were more likely to have been involved in a car accident or caught speeding, despite rating themselves more highly as drivers than non-gamers.
The survey of more 1,200 people asked respondents to rate their driving ability out of 10. The average motorist rated themselves 7.84 out of 10 but those who regularly play driving video games ranked themselves nearly a full point higher at 8.7.
However, 26% of gamers admitted to having two or more speeding convictions, compared with 17% of people who said that they never play driving games. Gamers also had more accidents, with 37% admitting that they’d had two or more.
So, as realistic as driving games might be getting, your virtual lap time is no indicator of your real driving ability. Keep your need for speed to the console.
The cars that have appeared most in video games
|Rank||Car||No of games|
|2||Chevrolet Camaro Mk.1||198|
|3||Ford Crown Victoria||179|
|4||Chevrolet Step Van||156|
|6||Toyota Supra Mk.4 JZA80||91|
|8||Ford E-Series Ambulance||86|
The car brands that have most in video games
|Rank||Brand||No. of games|