How much of a Volkswagen fan are you? Well put your hand down because you’re nowhere near the level of this guy from Jalopnik.
Autojournalist/writer/pun artist Jason Torchinsky has published a shockingly substantive article over at Jalopnik about Volkswagen, specifically a driving simulation that he considers to be the very first one invented ever.
Torchinsky believes that VW created the world’s first non-military computer-generated real-time first-person driving game. That’s a lot of hyphens. Why it’s important, we don’t know. What we do know is that this is a very long and studious article from an outlet known more for easy laughs and sick burns than scholarly work.
Der VW-Fahrsimulator apparently dates back to 1972. This was only three years after human beings had walked on the moon. Colored pencils were considered amazing technology. If your car had air conditioning, people from small towns saw you as some kind of deity. A computer was popularly understood as a way to call an erstwhile dog, e.g. “Come! Pooter!”
Nonetheless, Volkswagen was building an elaborate apparatus to study the ways of driving. What we now stuff into a disc and call Forza, VW was building an entire human gyroscope around, like something Leonardo da Vinci would sketch before roaring for more grapes.
It’s kind of weird, actually. In an age of the Cold War and Russians and nuclear bombs and sideburns, Germany’s most clinical and ambitious scientists were constructing something that would become a pastime for 14-year-olds trying to avoid mowing the lawn.
No matter what the reason, Volkswagen’s research helped them to envision driving scenarios and conditions they would have had a tough time experiencing in real life.
We like to think that at least one guy stayed late while everyone had gone for the night. Hunched over the brightly lit screen, he queued up that one darn level and swore that this time he was going to beat it once and for all.