Horse Racing Games and Virtual Thrills in the Time of Horse Racing Betting

Is the age of the computer to be the end of horse racing? Will this fine old sport with its roots going all the way back to pre-history finally come to and end as humans forsake the natural world and its attendant sensual pleasures for the digitalized two dimensional world measured in pixels on a flat screen?

We now have virtual horse racing, but where is the virtue in the sport? Is it in the connection between animal and humans or the need to take a chance and place a bet and live vicariously with the brave jockeys and courageous thoroughbreds thundering down the stretch?

To put it another way, will the virtual version and computerized games help horse racing to survive? In my opinion, probably not. Several years ago I was driving across the United States and got off the highway to buy gas and a soft drink at a convenience store. An adjoining room had a sign above the door that read, “Horse Racing.”

Naturally I had to take a look inside. If found a few people sitting at a table and some machines along the wall, It was some form of virtual horse racing and had nothing to do with the real thing. As far removed as an OTB parlor is from a race track, this was light years away from a real contest between men and animals.

The programmers could have just as easily designed the program to be a dinosaur racing game or anything else. I found it a bit insulting. I’ve owned race horses, I’ve groomed them and even drove Standardbred harness horses around a track. This is an insult and a gyp. The people who are betting on these games may as well be playing a slot machine.

Sorry Bub, it’s progress and you can’t stand in the way of progress, you know? Digitalized games with none of the real life drama of a real horse race is progress? Progress would be making the races safer for the participants or making it harder to cheat, not turning it into a two dimensional array of electronic blips on a screen and hung on a wall.

No their is no virtue in virtual horse racing games and as drugs and cheating mar the sport there is starting to be a dark shape looming on the horizon. It is the shape of things to come. It is a world where human beings actually think that less really is more, or at least that it is better somehow.

Sometimes big really is better and sitting in a grandstand or standing at the rail and feeling the wind on your face and hearing the roar of the crowd as the hooves go thundering down the stretch and the beautiful horses go flying by, that is as good as it gets and no computer programmer could match that, not now, not ever.