Motor racing in the old city of Bern

There’s something fascinating about seeing a place you know well or the place where you live on television or publicized across the world. Even though I know the region where I live very well, and have been to (or past) most places, it’s still interesting to me to turn on the television and see the Swiss View edition which includes the area around Lake Thun. (Fast forward to 4:40 in this video.) I’m sure that I’m not the only one who looks up videos on YouTube either, seeing what’s happening in the place where I used to live, or even having a Flickr contact who creatively photographs the slightly less salubrious town where I used to work.

Despite the fact that I have been programming computers since my first computer studies lessons in 1983, the world of computer games has, pretty much, eluded me. I have always felt that I have other, more interesting things to do than “relax” by playing a game. I’m also not one to find game playing relaxing, and I have also found that I don’t have the hand-eye coordination which one needs to play console games all that well. (Although the lack of hand-eye coordination may also be connected to the fact that I would most often try playing after getting back from the pub on a Friday night.)

Still, I find the visual aspect of computer games quite fascinating; not just the quality of the graphics which are included, but also the sheer complexity of the programming work which would be involved in putting together a digital world, through which there are often an infinite number of possible routes. I also enjoyed playing racing game Gran Turismo on my original Playstation; marvelling in the pretty good graphics (for the time) and even gaining some kind of skill after a fair amount of practice.

The image in this article is of Marktgasse in the centre of Bern; the city where I spend my days at work, and the main shopping street along which I walk a couple of times per week. It’s not a photograph but a computer-generated image, which any avid motor racing fan would be able to tell you; motor racing of any kind was banned in Switzerland after the 1955 tragedy at Le Mans and political discussions to lift the ban only reached a stage of definite progress three years ago, before once again being rejected in 2009.

The image is a frame from the promotional film for the newest edition 5 of the Gran Turismo racing game, which shows the cars warming up in the centre of Switzerland’s capital, as well as segments of racing footage from Italy and a standard racing circuit. The sections of the film from Bern – which I’m assuming are sadly not an indicator that one will be able to race through the streets of the city in the game – are nevertheless a great teaser for anyone who knows the city and who enjoys motor racing. Check out the video below for the full trailer of the game, which will be released in Europe in November of this year.

(Update 2016: video no longer available.)