With the not-so-subtle secret of who, exactly, is behind PretendRaceCars.com, the easiest way to address it isn’t to run and hide from the onslaught of angry gamers pissed off that I criticized their favorite game, but to instead answer every question under the sun that’s popped up on a myriad of different gaming sites for the past two months or so.
I appreciate the hardcore detective work going on in the WMD Forums, so as a bit of a reward, I’ll spoon-feed y’all even more information. Eventually this will all get copy/pasted to the About section of the site, but for now, consider this your be-all, end-all post about PretendRaceCars.com and what myself and a few buddies hope to accomplish with this blog.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I like some of your articles because some of them are really good reads, but you’re a bit of an arrogant prick on here. Do you have any previous writing experience where you aren’t being a dick, or are you just some guy with a blog and a big mouth?
Before starting this blog, I’ve written for a few different places, mainly VirtualR, RaceDepartment, and TheDirty (I can’t link that one here). The WMD guys figured it out a few days ago, but yes, I’m Austin O. You caught me. I did a few guest articles for VirtualR in early 2013, and afterwards I did a bunch of stuff for RaceDepartment. Every article I shat out was generally well-received.
There are so many Sim Racing sites already… Did you create this site because you felt other automotive video game news sites are boring?
I think those are pretty big accusations to label places like VirtualR, RaceDepartment, and BSimRacing as “boring.” They serve their purpose quite well – they are essentially a collection of press releases for different rFactor/Assetto Corsa mods, as well as whatever games and updates are on the horizon. I check those sites daily because it’s the easiest way to figure out what’s happening in the genre. It’s not like Polygon or Kotaku will give you accurate details about racing sims, since by their own admission they’re not very good at them and would rather jack off over an adventure game about a lesbian walking around some haunted house.
However, I do feel these “press releases” aren’t very entertaining reads. You can’t sit down on the shitter and be entertained by yet another batch of Assetto Corsa patch notes. Sites like Team VVV tried to expand on this with their fantastic investigative look at F1 2014’s hidden traction control assist that was ruining online leagues, but that kind of article ended up being a one-off editorial piece. Alan does a great job over there, but I wanted an entire site full of interesting reads like that. So I made my own.
I’d say the only journalism site I found truly “boring” in our genre was the InsideSimRacing YouTube show. Not because the personalities behind it were bland, Darin and Shaun were pretty damn good on camera despite how their friendship has deteriorated over the years, but it became hard to take anything they said seriously when iRacing decals, apparel, and commercials would show up in the middle of the episode. Knowing how assertive iRacing is when it comes to marketing their brand, it became hard to trust what they said about other games simply because you knew iRacing was in their pockets to some extent. I’ve heard a couple people refer to the show as Inside iRacing, and that’s obviously something you want to avoid if you’re any sort of blogger or journalist attempting to appeal to a whole community.
Since you believe most news sites in this genre are boring and “rarely” have “interesting reads” in favor of “press release”-like articles and sponsored content, how do you feel about the Gamergate controversy?
Gamergate was destined to fail because it began on 4Chan. With my time writing for RaceDepartment alone I saw two developer teams in particular get bootyblasted over two different pieces I wrote, and I could see how a weak individual would crack under pressure and change their content to please whatever agenda was being pushed at the time. Considering Gamergate was attempting to draw attention to the ridiculous amount of bias in the whole journalism scene that saw text adventures about depression and strange third-wave feminist agendas in everything from Grand Theft Auto V reviews to major gaming conventions, yeah, I guess I’m a supporter, because that shit is whack.
But everybody went about it the wrong way.
Long story short, Gamergate was a bunch of angry virgins shitting on a promiscuous girl who was already having her shit wrecked in private by her numerous former lovers, and in the process accidentally stumbled upon how ass-backwards the gaming industry is as a whole. It reminds me of the episode in The Simpsons where Homer’s just doing his taxes after removing a crayon from his brain, and accidentally proves to Flanders that there is no God.
The next step should have been to round up every good writer among 4Chan and Reddit, plus some people who can shell out for a premium WordPress account (it’s not a lot but I’m a cheap bastard), and go nuts with three or four different independant gaming sites. Given the size of 4Chan’s userbase, and the connections people have on both sites with people inside the industry who also can’t stand the state of the industry, you’d have more than enough material for at least three sites worth of content – none of it biased because they hurt a devs feelings or pushing an agenda that rFactor oppresses womyn or some shit.
What actually happened was just another prolonged 4Chan raid where they shit up Twitter and Reddit for a few months. Mix in the autists too retarded to contribute anything other than threats on Twitter and suddenly nobody takes the movement seriously anymore and now we have a mentally ill man claiming he’s a girl and represents women in video games on Fox News.
And that didn’t solve anything.
Why and When did you finally start PretendRaceCars?
I didn’t wanna be that guy who shits on every other news site without trying it first and seeing if I could do it myself. You see this a lot in the iRacing forums: “if you think the tire model is so broken, you try making your own!” – or something to that extent. I didn’t wanna be an armchair critic. I wanted to see if I could do it – I thought the reason behind all the bland, press-release articles was because maintaining a relevant news site is hard work.
As for when, a few months ago I read a really great post on 4Chan that outline all of the shortcomings of every Codemasters game, dating back to the original Playstation. Reading it, I thought “wow, that dude nailed it.” And this was right at the time news hit of the layoffs and that DiRT 4 might suffer a delay and all that. And I’m like “that analysis is damn good, I’d love to read something like that.” Around the same time, iRacing had just landed on Steam and there were complaints about the functionality. Adding to that, people were praising R3E on VirtualR even though the same users had been crapping on SimRaceway for years, even though the game was basically the same. Within ten minutes, I had the site setup and the first articles posted. Just sort of spiralled out of control from there.
What made you believe people wanted this type of news site in the first place?
It’s really pathetic to admit, but as a bit of an observer, you see how the community reacts when Forza DLC is announced, and then you see the week-long shitstorm that occurred during the Empty Box vs. InsideSimRacing drama. You see how little people care when an rFactor mod is released, and then you see the craziness that occurs when the iRacing servers go down for the sixth time during a World Tour event. As much as people will deny it, the raw numbers, view count, and overall community participation in the Gangi vs. Empty Box saga blew away anything else that happened that month. Even the smaller stuff, like Forza 5’s reliance on a heavy amount of micro-transactions at launch was outright ignored by gaming sites but sent shockwaves through the community.
A site that brought all of this to light would be fantastic. And given that I also happened to be insanely quick on the track, somebody like me exposing flaws or bullshit in this genre would be much more appreciated than a guy who used his YouTube show to pick fights with dudes who spun him out in the 2.4 Hours of Daytona.
It’s like, would you rather have Lewis Hamilton in the booth once he’s retired… Or Pastor Maldonaldo?
All of that rolled together… The only option was to start the blog.
What inspired the arrogant, self-centered writing tone?
It’s a mix of logic’d from Tumblr and Nik Richie from TheDirty. I’m a huge fan of both sites, read Nik’s autobiography last year, and just sort of adapted that style for this blog. I’m perfectly capable of sounding educated, I just flat out don’t want to.
Where does the username “81GGD5” come from?
It’s the “Unlock Everything” cheat for the North American version of Extreme-G. It’s one of the first Nintendo 64 games I owned. I fucking hated it, but the cheat code, for whatever reason, has stuck with me all these years.
Why use a fake username? If everyone would figure out it’s you, why not just use your real name?
The content of the articles posted on here are more important than the person who wrote them. And by using your real name you’ll also run into ninnies who’ll see someone’s name and think “that’s the asshole who wrecked me in iRacing three years ago.” This has already happened both on RaceDepartment and on this blog itself – on a pretty notable occasion an article on here got posted to the iRacing member forums. For the first three pages or so, the majority of users agreed with what I had to say in the article… Until they caught wind of who had written it. The very same people who said “the article is right, Project CARS isn’t very good and Ian Bell is an ass” were suddenly backtracking because agreeing with me wasn’t allowed or something.
Speaking of Project CARS, why all the irrational hate for the game (as well as iRacing)?
This is a news site. It’s not a very good news site, but it’s a news site, and we report on what’s happening. Right now, in our genre, Slightly Mad Studios has claimed their upcoming racer is “Destiny on wheels” and has specifically aimed to take a chunk out of both Gran Turismo‘s and Forza‘s fanbases. Instead, the game has been delayed three times and WMD members behind closed doors admit to spreading outright lies about the game to generate hype. Things aren’t looking good and there’s a constant stream of errors coming from the saga surrounding the title that nobody else is even bothering to talk about.
This is no different than the never-ending firestorm of SimCity articles published daily after the game’s disastrous launch in 2013. Had PretendRaceCars.com existed in 2010, we’d be covering the absymal launch of Gran Turismo 5. Had the blog existed in early 2011, there would be non-stop posts about the Eutechnyx series of NASCAR games – especially as Eutechnyx also banned users from their forum for being critical of the game.
How do you react when people call some of your articles lies?
They prefer to use the term “taken out of context“, but all I can do is laugh. I’ve had to explain this to someone much older and wiser than anybody who spends their free time playing pretend race cars on their television sets, but at some point you can’t deny what’s being presented to you. I’ve posted many captures from the WMD Forums that are apparently “taken out of context” – and you have to look at what’s being presented to you. WMD members are saying the game needs work and is a long ways away from being finished. Project CARS has been delayed three times in six months. Retail stores listed a May release date months before the May release date was formally announced. At some point, you can’t deny what’s showing up on here?
Another example was an article run about a former InsideSimRacing host that was found on a sugar daddy dating site. I got some pretty interesting comments from people on that one. But I mean, I Googled the chick’s Instagram username to see what she was up to, considering I would have thought she’d gotten into like, local news or something – I didn’t think she was all that bad on camera, and that site was the second result. How, exactly, can I lie about that? How, exactly, can that be taken out of context? It’s like, right there.
Have any developers actually come after you for what you post?
Nothing as of yet. But when I wrote for RaceDepartment we had to deal with both Codemasters and iRacing. I forget which one came first.
I know when I wrote my review on iRacing, it was right around the time that RaceDepartment was debuting their SimTeamsChallenge series, and they were in talks with iRacing staff to get a few broadcasting accounts so they could livestream the races. Well, iRacing didn’t like that I gave the game a 7/10 and basically told RD to kick me off the writing team. RD didn’t budge and the season went ahead as planned from what I remember.
Codemasters was pretty upset that I shit-canned Grid 2, going as far as tracking me down on Steam and looking at my achievements to see how much time I’d actually spent with the game. During the review embargo (which is never a good sign), Codies sent out a seven page document basically explaining how to play the game during the review process and what features to try. You didn’t have to follow any of this, but keep in mind this game went to sites like Kotaku where auto racing is seen as masculine and oppressive to womyn, so people like that need detailed instructions for these sorts of games. Anyways, we published the review and I blasted the game for several reasons – it was inferior to the original Grid in almost every way. Codies claimed the reason I gave it a poor score was because I didn’t complete career mode and “get the full Grid 2 experience!”
We changed one line in the review to make them go away.
Six months later, they announced GRID Autosport, claiming that “we’re not above admitting that we made a few decisions that perhaps we shouldn’t have, and perhaps moved some of the aspects of the game too far away from our core fanbase.” The same shit they begged me to change my review for, less than a year later they came out with their tail between their legs and it was hilarious because GRID Autosport sucked too.
How do you feel about all of the negative comments – in particular WMD members trying to figure out who you are?
As a victim of actual harassment in my personal life, this is next to nothing. I don’t see how them chasing after one dude from 4Chan with a blog will accomplish anything. Their game is still delayed and the QA section of their forums is still loaded with hilarious glitch videos. Bullying me into shutting up about it won’t magically make the problems go away.
I read on the WMD Forums that you can see where anybody links to your site – Is this true?
Yeah, WordPress has a huge “stats” page for the admin where it’s basically real-time SimCity-like graphs of everything about your site. It’s awesome to watch live during high-traffic days, like when one of our pCars articles made it onto N4G.
What gave you the idea to start a podcast?
When we started getting huge amounts of traffic, Chris asked me when we were going to start doing podcasts, as if this decision had already been made. A month later, we started doing podcasts. That’s about it. They’re based off of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. We lack originality. The show’s named after the GT3 lap record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Where do you get your information?
Message boards. Usually it ends up being true. Think of PretendRaceCars.com as like, a “greatest hits” compilation of all the different crazy forum rumors going on at the moment.