Nissan has published sketches of three concepts, each with five sets of double wheels but no engine, a high tech seat but no steering wheel, and allows you to race against the fastest without really moving much.
These are gaming chair concepts released by Nissan on Twitter. Each of the three chairs was inspired by a Nissan model, the Nissan Leaf with a futuristic theme, the Armada for leather-clad luxury, and the Nissan GT-R Nismo as the high-performance option.
Gaming chairs refer to playing computer games. Not Candy Crush on your phone, mind you. Serious overnight or weekend-long games between friends connected by Local Area Network or internationally involving thousands of participants connected via high-speed fibre.
Specialist gaming chairs in South Africa range from around R1 500 to over R30 000. Gaming is a serious business, fuelled by adrenaline, Mountain Dew and Doritos. The biggest gaming event in the world, in Poland earlier this year, attracted 174 000 spectators over two weekends. In addition, viewership (via ESPN, etc.) totaled 157 million hours by 232 million (cumulative) viewers. Prize money exceeded $2.5m.
With such numbers, it is no wonder that car makers such as Nissan are interested. The recently-announced Gran Turismo Manufacturers Series Championship is the first online e-sport racing game officially recognised by world motor racing body FIA.
Gamers who choose Nissan as their manufacturer in the game will be entered into a competition. The regional winners of this competition – the Americas, Asia, and Europe – will win a trip to the NISMO Festival in Japan, Nissan team clothing and coaching for the World Final.
Nissan will hold a separate Nissan GT Sport Cup for European gamers, where the top twelve drivers will compete in the finals in Spain. The winner gets a Nissan Training Camp at Silverstone – real-world racing instruction.
So gaming is a big business and attracts big money. But back to the chairs.
The Leaf chair may well have Star Trek’s Mr. Spock sitting in it. “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.” The frame of the chair is gunmetal and the upholstery is grey leather with bright blue inserts. It has an integral leg rest and a built-in USB charging port.
The Armada will also have the gunmetal frame, but black and tan leather upholstery with heating and cooling and adjustable lumbar support. Ideal for longer games.
The chair to make the gamer drool is the GT-R Nismo with built-in headrest audio. It has a carbon fibre shell with a deeply-sculpted black leather-clad shape to keep you in place, no matter how intense the game gets.
It is not certain if Nissan will build these chairs, but given the size and fanatic following of games like Gran Turismo, it may well be a way to inspire current young gamers to become future Nissan drivers. And that, as they say, is where the rubber meets the road.