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The racing video game genre is the genre of video games, either in the first-person or third-person perspective, in which the player partakes in a racing competition with any type of land, water, air or space vehicles.

They may be based on anything from real-world racing leagues to entirely fantastical settings.

In general, they can be distributed along a spectrum anywhere between hardcore simulations, and simpler arcade racing games.

Racing games may also fall under the category of sports games.

In 1973, Atari released Space Race, an arcade video game where players control spaceships that race against opposing ships, while avoiding comets and meteors.

It is a competitive two-player game controlled using a two-way joystick, and features black and white graphics.

Another notable video game from the 1970s was The Driver, a racing-action game released by Kasco (Kansai Seiki Seisakusho Co.) that used 16 mm film to project full motion video on screen, though its gameplay had limited interaction, requiring the player to match their steering wheel, gas pedal and brakes with movements shown on screen, much like the sequences in later laserdisc video games.

Alpine Ski, released by Taito in 1981, was a winter sports game, a vertical-scrolling racing game that involved maneuvering a skier through a downhill ski course, a slalom racing course, and a ski jumping competition.

One of the most influential racing games was released in 1982: Pole Position, developed by Namco and published by Atari in North America.

It was the first game to be based on a real racing circuit, and the first to feature a qualifying lap, where the player needs to complete a time trial before they can compete in Grand Prix races.

While not the first third-person racing game (it was predated by Sega's Turbo), Pole Position established the conventions of the genre and its success inspired numerous imitators.

According to Electronic Games, for the first time in the amusement parlors, a first-person racing game gives a higher reward for passing cars and finishing among the leaders rather than just for keeping all four wheels on the road".