Drinking, driving, and gaming? It might sound strange, but when a few gamers wanted to test out their performance behind the virtual wheel of a video game recently, they learned how difficult it is to drink and drive any vehicle, even one in a game.
It was a test straight out of an episode of Mythbusters. Armed with a BACtrack mobile breathalyzer, three gamers wanted to see how their performance behind the wheel of Forza Motorsport 5 would dwindle after a few drinks. They chose that game because of how closely it would match a real drinking and driving experience, and they used Mario Kart 8 as a backup to double check whether cartoon driving games would provide the same experience.
To perform the test, each gamer ran control breathalyzer tests to have a benchmark for blood alcohol concentrations (BAC). They each had one glass of wine, measured their BAC, and played three games. They repeated this process 3 times over the course of several hours.
The results were predictable. As one gamer drank each glass of wine, his blood alcohol level crept up to 0.23%. The legal limit for driving real vehicles is .08, and he noticed that as he drank more his lap times slowed by 2 seconds per trial. He also told his fellow gamers that he thought he was driving very well, and was surprised at how poorly he was doing on each lap. This is a great example of how drinking alcohol can affect your perception of reality.
Although one gamer had a strong tolerance to alcohol, registering at .06 after three glasses of wine, he said he felt more drunk than the breathalyzer was suggesting. His performance dropped off by 13 seconds after his second trial. The third gamer was the only woman in the test, and she topped out with a BAC of .21 by her third trial. Her performance dropped off to the point where she was 7 seconds behind her initial run.
How does a test like this have real world consequences? As one of the gamers put it, “I would never want to drive feeling like this.” Drinking alcohol is known to slow your reflexes, affect your coordination, and inhibit your judgement, so driving after drinking, even if it’s just a game, is a bad idea for anyone who wants to stay safe on the road.