Tommy Milner is a professional race car driver. Drivers are typically known for what we find in their garages, but what’s interesting about Milner is what’s in his basement. The winning driver of this year’s LeMans, Milner’s basement features a gaming chair on top of a PVC frame, with a gaming wheel attached to it. Milner used this custom gaming rig made out of cheap (to a winning race car driver) parts, to train for the LeMans. Milner attributes much of his success to time spent on his custom simulator, but we know that unlimited access to simulation is not all it takes to dominate as a driver. As one of my favorite television hosts, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear demonstrates there is a limit to what can be learned through simulation alone. There are many more factors that need to be taken into account when not in a simulation. Driver fatigue, fitness level and experience… all can affect performance, even with all the know-how a top-level simulator can give you.
It isn’t news that professionals have been using games to hone their skills out of the office. Surgeons have been using them to increase dexterity in their hands, the military uses them to familiarize troops with different weaponry and squad tactics, and pilots use them to train for scenarios that are too dangerous to do with an actual aircraft. Can simulators help us sharpen our skills and prepare for the unexpected? Definitely. But it can only get us so far. In order to succeed, knowledge, hard work and talent are necessary.