Xbox 360 Interview

Feeling Forza with Murray Walker

Motorsport legend talks gaming and the future

A luminary of British motorsport, veteran commentator Murray Walker has seen it all, leaving him ideally placed to discuss the future of motor racing, the march of video games, and specifically Microsoft's new Forza 3 - which he's been enlisted to help promote.

Murray Walker, a pleasure to meet you, thank you very much for speaking with us.

No trouble whatsoever, nice to meet you too.

Murray, you're a legend of television and motorsport, what's it like being known predominantly for your voice

Its a funny thing, you know, if I get in a taxi and ask to go to Kings Cross, it's always "Oh, hello, Murray!" Sometimes when the taxi driver sees me he won't recognise me, but you're right, I'm in trouble as soon as I open my mouth!

But what's it like I don't think there are many people who mind being well-known. If people take the trouble to talk to you, it's usually because they want to chat, rather than insult you. It's very pleasant.

I can't think why anyone would want to insult you Murray!

I certainly hope not

You've be commentating since 1978

1949!

My apologies. Curse you Wikipedia. I do apologise how has motorsport evolved and how has coverage of motorsport also changed?

Oh, motorsport, like everything in life, has become more about money, more professional, more sponsor-orientated, and a lot less fun. Coverage, has as with all things electronic, improved beyond recognition. When I first began television was in black and white, there were no such things as captions, here, there and everywhere. Now, if you really want to know what's happening at a grand prix you should watch it on the box if you want to be a part of the buzz, go to Silverstone, Monaco, wherever, you'll feel it. Watching it on television and watching it in a grandstand - you're in a static position, the cars go past, while on television you follow the race around, get multiple shots, everyone explains what's happening. Everyone is highly informed and entertained.

Videogames is part of that in a way, engaging the observer

The thing is, when you start in motorsport now - at the age five, you start in karts - now there are kids playing games at home - like Forza 3 - they have 400 cars to choose from. If they want to drive an Aston Martin, they can, if they want to drive a Porsche, its there. You name it, its there dozens of circuits, and - unbelievably to me - as a non-electronic bloke - it's so realistic. Incredible detail, the landmarks around the tracks. Today's would-be grand prix driver, if they had raced at Silverstone in Formula 3, but not at Monaco, they experience it in the game.

You can get into the real car knowing where the bends are, where you should be accelerating. There's no G-force, but you've virtually everything else.

You mentioned buzz earlier, that's quite important to creating excitement around the sport. Can games foster that buzz, that magic..?

Well, what games can do is create the interest and enthusiasm in the first place. Kids wouldn't play Forza 3 if they weren't interested. It will make them more enthused about seeing and hopefully doing the real thing. One leads to the other.

I read that you tried your hand at motorcycle racing. Can video games be a safer and more convenient way for people to live out there dreams?

Its certainly safer, and certainly a lot more convenient! Whether it's as exciting is a matter of debate, there is certainly no substitute for the real thing. My number one interest is motorbikes actually. There is nothing more satisfying, demanding, exciting and frightening than riding a motorbike at high speed.

Motorsport is famous for glamour and a certain flair. The girls, the lifestyles, do you think that side of the sport is an integral part of it, or do you see it as a hindrance?

It's certainly not a hindrance. The women, the hotels, the fast life. Its a young man's sport, and young men equal testosterone, that equals women, if you get top racing drivers then you have got women throwing themselves at you. I can't think of a much better series of circumstances than driving a fast car and women throwing themselves at me!

I've had one, but not the other!

Do you get to know the drivers a lot?

Yes, very well

Do you have any close friends, or favourites?

Nigel Mansell was one of my favourites, its an age thing, because he was Britain's top racing driver, and was racing at the same time as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet. Piquet and Mansell were team mates but they hated each other's guts, so did Prost and Senna. Nigel is a personal friend, so because that was my privilege to comment on him, that makes him my favourite. Jenson Button is a thoroughly nice man too, a really decent bloke, and he thoroughly deserves the championship this year.

What's your opinion on bringing new people into motorsport through videogames?

I think its an essential element, as I mentioned earlier, kids learn through games and they will learn about motorsport, and learn whether they have the ability to do it by playing games. You have to be pretty good on Forza 3 to get good times, if this gets kids into the sport, ideally, but there's plenty more they can do - spectating, working as a marshal, being involved in publicity, the technical side of things, this is all for the good of the sport. Videogames equals the future, I hope.

Great, thank you Murray.

Thank you very much!

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