Sony and Polyphony Digital are running a massive race competition around recently-released Gran Turismo 5, partnering with car maker Nissan on a multi-phase gaming event -- and it'll be televised as a reality show.
The three-phase gaming contest is part of programming in the works for car-focused cable channel Speed Network in 2011, although the competition itself began on December 15.
Contestants will use pre-selected Nissan vehicles in Gran Turismo 5, earning "free digital content" for competing and gaining other prize chances on their way to be selected as one of the top 32 virtual racers in the U.S.
The final 32 will compete against one another in March 2011, and from there, 16 finalists will engage in more kinds of contests against one another -- including driving real Nissan racers, according to the announcement. The final winner earns the chance to join "GT Academy", where they train with professional drivers at tracks all around the world and join a professional racing team.
Nissan says that bonding with the simulation racing game will give it an opportunity to associate its vehicles with the racing world and identify itself as a "performance" brand.
The televised reality show will begin filming in March, starting with the GT Academy finals and running multiple episodes through the pro racer training process.
Gran Turismo 5's long-awaited release came November 24 in the U.S., after multiple delays. The title received generally good reviews, but not an overwhelmingly positive critical reception: The consensus was that the game still had some elements that felt unfinished, and not up to the standards of other aspects of the game.