Sometimes a guy walks into a room and you have no idea who he is, but because of his presence, you know he's a man of distinction. Such is the case with Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the award-winning video game racing series turned empire, Gran Turismo.
Like any genius in their field, Yamauchi has layers to his personality and technical specificity. KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide educates and entertains while peeling back those layers, and exposing the reasons why Yamauchi has been able to create such a successful product.
The most recent version of the game—Gran Turismo 6—was released on Dec. 6, 2013 for the PlayStation 3 exclusively.
This documentary is a bit of a companion piece—and a must-see— for those infatuated or intrigued by the gaming series, and/or the man behind it.
The trailer below offers just a taste of what the documentary presents.
The full-length film is available for viewing on Wednesday, Jan. 22 on Hulu.
Without giving away the most interesting points of this fascinating story about perseverance and passion, it is safe to discuss some of the structure of the film. Much of the footage that depicts Yamauchi's real-life driving experiences seem like sequences from the game itself.
That's a tribute to authenticity of the gaming experience.
The film is filled with accounts and experiences with the game, and first-hand dealings with Yamauchi. KAZ accurately represents how far the influence of GT has spread. The founder of GTPlanet.com, Jordan Greer appears in the film to offer his take on how GT has connected with gamers and drivers.
Through the GT Academy, real-life drivers are honing their skills with the help of the video game. Greer says this in the film:
To have something like Gran Turismo where you can develop your skills in your living room for just a few hundred dollars. There are seldom games that can actually teach you something that applies directly to a real-world situation.
The positive messages and validation don't just come from people in the virtual racing world. Well-known figures in the automotive racing industry like director of advanced design at General Motors Frank Saucedo, and international automotive journalist, Sam Mitani talk about Yamauchi's real-life skills behind the wheel.
Jake Lingeman of Autoweek.com says:
What separates Yamauchi from many other game makers is that he lives the life he depicts in his games. He's a race-car driver, no asterisks necessary. We see a few clips of him in a racing suit, looking somewhere in the 20-year-old range, talking about the first Gran Turismo.
The amalgamation of stories, footage and information comes together nicely. After watching the film and playing GT 6, I came away with an even higher level of respect for Kaz, and the team of racing enthusiasts that produce the game.
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