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A subcategory of Sports Games. You are on a course or given a course to take and your goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as you can, usually before your opponents do. Sometimes you're just the car, and you never even see the driver, sometimes you drive nothing at all.

Most racing games are Driving Games and when it comes to driving they sit on a line between "arcade" and "simulation". Toward the arcade end, brakes are nearly unnecessary; toward the simulation end, brakes are the only thing saving you from skidding head-on into the wall and cars are as close as can be made to their Real Life analogues. Simulation-style racing games are generally "no contact" affairs, just as in real life. Most games based on real-life motorsport, such as the Formula One series, involve driving around a track with set rules of noninterference with your competitors. Most arcade racers are "full contact" racing, where you are encouraged to shove your opponents into barriers or blast them out of the way with power ups.

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If the game has real cars in it, the names and likenesses are licensed from the manufacturer(s). Generally, the terms of the license require that the cars be invulnerable unless the developer is willing to pay a much higher price for the license, as auto manufacturers don't want people to think their cars get damaged easily. This just happens to promote the idea that dangerous driving has no consequences, but hey, at least our car looks good.

A single racing game could become a Massive Multiplayer Crossover involving real-life car manufacturers if their cars are licensed by them. Of course, it's inevitable when it happens.

Of course, the car drivers themselves are even less vulnerable and you rarely see them die in a car crash. Even games where you are not driving cars can still fall neatly into arcade or simulation, though the further they go towards simulation in this case, the less they will play like a driving game.

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Expect No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom, as you're supposed to race the other vehicles, not explore - this makes it much easier for the programmers. This is why when drive-anywhere racing games like Midtown Madness came out in the 1990's it was such a surprise to players.

An inordinate number of racing games feature a Cheating Bastard.

A Super Genre to Mascot Racer.

See also, Racing Minigame

Common Elements of Racing Games include:

  • The Big Race: Inevitable for any racing game with a plot.
  • Car Fu: There's nothing stopping a player from just ramming their vehicle into the competition. If the car is using weapons instead, then that's already getting into Vehicular Combat and Weaponized Car territory.
  • Competitive Balance: Vehicles are usually divided in three general archetypes: light and slow, but with good acceleration and handling (the equivalent of a Fragile Speedster), heavy and fast, but nearly unsteerable (the equivalent of a Mighty Glacier), and, finally, the balanced one.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Less-skilled players are prone to this.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Good luck finding any racing game where the vehicles don't end up exploding when damaged enough.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: Unless their vehicle outright explodes, the driver character will never really take any damage from crashes or impacts.
  • Level-Map Display: During a race, the corner of the screen will often feature a mini-map of the course, if only to facilitate navigation for the player.
  • Marathon Level: A specific racetrack is likely to be way longer than the others. This can be compensated by having shorter tracks require more laps to complete, but it's not a guarantee.
  • Nitro Boost: A Power-Up that consists of a temporary boost of speed.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: If the CPU falls too behind the player or vice-versa, it will sneakily speed up or slow down just enough to keep things as competitive as possible.
  • Shows Damage: Games with destructible vehicles often show the gradual, escalating damage it receives until the point they're outright destroyed.
  • Time Trial: A mode that allows the player to compete against the clock instead of other racers.
    • Racing Ghost: The ability to challenge a visualization of a previous record, represented as a transparent apparition of the record's keeper.
  • Wacky Racing: Again, depending on player skill, even a race in a more realistic game can end up in a chaotic mess.

Driving Racers:

Other Racers


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