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Totally Game: How a virtual racer won a real racing contract

The latest episode of Totally Game, Future's documentary series showcasing remarkable gamers, is all about speed. After winning the World's Fastest Gamer tournament, James Baldwin turned a love of racing sims into a $1 million contract with Jenson Button's GT team.

After giving up karting in 2015, Baldwin started getting his speed kicks online. He invested in a virtual driving setup and, after winning €4,000 in his first tournament, left his engineering job and started focusing on gaming. 

"To throw it all away for a risky thing like esports and racing wasn’t easy," Baldwin says. "Gaming is a weird one—everyone knows how old a racing driver can get to before they have to retire, but no-one knows how long a gamer can go on for."

Last year, a victory at the Race of Champions netted him a spot in the World's Fastest Gamer tournament, with competitors racing both virtually and in real cars. It's an annual tournament, and last year the prize was a $1 million racing contract. 

Though very different disciplines, Baldwin says that the skills he's honed in racing sims helped make him a better driver in real-life. 

“A lot of the skills you use are the same. The only real difference is the physicality—I find it much harder to get in the zone on a sim compared to a real car."

Baldwin's debut had to be postponed due to the coronavirus, but he'll get his first chance next month at Oulton Park. 

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