The gaming business loves to abbreviate descriptive terminology. VR is one of those that has made headlines over the past few years, although it is hardly the only “Reality” technology that is worth writing about. You have Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MXR) and the granddaddy of them all, Simulated Reality (SR). I’ll be honest though…almost no one uses the term SR for anything except for myself. They tend to just stick to saying “simulators.”
Arcade manufacturers have been producing Simulated Reality games pretty much since the beginning of video games, as they are more capable to do so as every generation passes, thanks to the hardware component innovations that go into every game. While game consoles and computers can offer a simulator game on the software side, there is always something that is missing when you don’t have realistic controls at your disposal – be it a steering wheel & gas pedal, a flight stick, a gun, and so on. Home systems can offer that via accessories, but nothing beats the sturdiness, the quality and the distinct feel that you get from having that simulation brought to life with an arcade cabinet.
In the interest of space, I’ll not cover every arcade game that ever bothered to simulate a real world device with its cabinet and controls, but I will look at some of the more notable and important simulation games.
Even today, racing games still manage to be some of the top earning titles you find in arcades, so let’s start there. Atari would create the first true video racing game with Gran Trak 10 in 1974. While the software was rudimentary by today’s standards, the cabinet itself recreated the feel of being at the helm of a real driving machine. It proffered users a real steering wheel, gear shifter and foot pedals as the means to control their on screen counterpart. The game was also notable for being the first title to have used ROM memory for digitally storing content.
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