Night Driver

Night Driver is an arcade game that was developed in 1976 by Atari and first of Micronetics, Inc. marketed. It is considered the first 3D racing simulation among the video games.


The player controls a car from a slightly elevated view ( more of a truck). The screen is black. As a road boundary are shown on the left and right white bars. There are curves, opposing motorists and later in simple objects, such as buildings and trees. However, the objects were present only in the ports.

In the arcade version can be seen at the bottom of an orange car, which is the player's car. It is not generated on the screen, but is merely a glued plastic disc. Therefore, it does not appear in emulations.

Predecessor and similar games of the time

The first video game racing simulator was Gran Trak 10 (Atari, 1974), however, in plan view.

An almost identical game was Night Racer (1976, also from Micronetics ) based on the German Nürburgring Game 1, Nurburgring 1 was electronic, but unlike Night Racer with analog circuits.

Nurburgring 1 has already been developed by Dr. Reiner Foerst before and the first hardware in Germany filed on May 13, 1975 patent. Another, later patent ( 1977 D) allows the presentation of opposing vehicles and shows a drawing of the screen. However, there was a driving simulator by Volkswagen, which is estimated 1971-1974.

Nevertheless, Night Driver is generally regarded as the first video game racing simulator.

In 1976 there were F-1, an electro-mechanical 3D racing simulation of Atari / Namco. The image was projected onto a screen.

Previously, there was more mechanical and electro-mechanical racing games, but instead of a monitor contained mostly genuine small car models that were connected by a rod directly to the steering wheel.

For more milestones see racing simulation.


There were similar games like Midnight Racer and 280ZZZAP, as well as vector games.

The next quantum leap came in 1982 with pole position.


  • Atari 2600, ported by Rob Fulop
  • VC 20
  • Apple II
  • Commodore 64
  • Commodore Max, as Road Race


The game was called at ports also Nite Driver. It was not the first game with a sit-in version for placing therein. Also, it is not the first game that was controlled with a steering wheel.

It can be seen in the film Zombie ( Dawn of the Dead, 1978).