From force feedback wheels to international racing circuits: a video game driver goes pro

When we play games, we step inside the skins of our favorite characters. More often than not, this also means stepping into a job that we either don't or can't have and getting to spend time fighting wars, piloting ships or commanding armies.

Haven't we all wished, even a little bit, that we might be recognized for our gaming prowess and recruited, Last Starfighter –style, into the real world portrayed by our games?

Over at Polygon , Jeff Dunn tells the story of Bryan Heitkotter, a life-long Gran Turismo player and racing game fan who got an opportunity to break into the real thing. When the popular GT Academy realty-show/racing competition opened its doors to American Gran Turismo players for the first time, Heitkotter was there, ready to bring his skills off of the couch and into a real race car.

"I imagined myself winning it and reaching my lifelong dream but I didn't know if I was good enough," he says. "Still, I was excited about the opportunity and had to give it everything I had. I knew I'd kick myself down the line if I didn't. This was the clearest path for me to go racing and the best opportunity for me to make it."

Heitkotter won the TV show and got his shot to make it to the pros. He credits part of his success to endless virtual training in every racing game he could get his hands on.

"I'm sure many people have heard the phrase 'video games won't get you anywhere in real life,'" Heitkotter says. "Maybe that's not always true anymore.”