The first Gran Turismo video game was released in Japan in December 1997. Since then, the series has gone on to include six full titles, as well as a handful of 'Prologue' versions, special editions and more. There's also a movie in the works and of course the GT Academy--turning gamers into real (and successful) racing drivers.
It's not so much a game franchise as a global phenomenon, and like many phenomena it now has its own documentary too. Called Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide, it's named after the game's creator Kazunori Yamauchi. The film explores the "virtual divide" between art and engineering, and between the virtual world and the real. Love or loathe the Gran Turismo series--and there are plenty in both camps--the game's attention to detail and encyclopedic approach are representative of Yamauchi's obsession with cars--and it makes for perfect documentary material.
Kaz features interviews with those in the Gran Turismo world, from Kazunori-san himself to successful GT Academy participants like Yann Mardenborough, GT racing ace and Le Mans competitor since his Academy win in 2011. Like the game there's plenty of visual candy too, from images of Corvettes in the desert and Lexus LF-As on Tokyo freeways--and looks into the importance of the series, how automakers now release cars in the game before they appear on the roads and how some cars are even created for and through Gran Turismo.
Best of all, you can watch the documentary for free on Hulu--though it'll subsequently appear on the Sony Movie Channel, Sony Entertainment Network, Amazon Instant Video, and Crackle from February 5. Check out the trailer above, then head to Hulu for a full look at the Kaz documentary. Be sure to leave your comments on the film, and on the game, below.