When I read in the Star Tribune today that street racing is "a popular back-alley sport fueled in part by video games that promise high risk at dangerous speeds," three things immediately came to mind:
1) Street racing existed for decades before video games.
2) Video games don't provide enough of a visceral thrill for the people compelled to participate in street racing. (That's why they hit the real streets.)
3) People who play street-racing video games seem less likely to do it in real life.
Obviously, there are video games that glorify street racing, just as movies and TV shows do, as well as music going all the way back to Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys and the Bobby Fuller Four. But it strikes me that the cause and effect are being reversed here. All of those pop-culture references exist because of the decades-long underground popularity of street racing -- not the other way around.
On the other hand, there's no doubt that a video game such as Need for Speed or Burnout (pictured) can make street racing look cool, completely ignoring the deadly implications of such behavior. But it is just a game -- no different than a book, movie or song that celebrates an illegal or violent activity. Somehow, though, I don't think we'll see a reference any time soon to street racing as a popular back-alley sport fueled in part by classic rock songs that celebrate the dangerous allure of Dead Man's Curve.