Sometimes, game developers can put some absolutely cheeky shit in the Terms of Service, and Section 2.1.1 of iRacing’s Sporting Code is some cheeky shit.To those who will inevitably stumble upon this post without knowing a whole hell of a lot about iRacing, I’ll do my best to break it down for you before we begin:
iRacing is a hardcore online-only racing simulation that relies entirely on a heavily structured ranking and moderation system to create what’s essentially a virtual world of auto racing, with several different types of cars and tracks, all under one roof. To create an environment where online races against human opponents are taken as seriously as the real thing, the game’s Terms of Service, dubbed the Sporting Code (complete with its own sanctioning body) is designed to act as one huge official rule book. This allows iRacing to suspend or even outright ban dirty or unsportsmanlike drivers from the game, keeping the races exceptionally clean and free of the losers you’ll see in an average Forza session. While there are definitely dickheads in each race who drive in an aggressive manner, your average online session in iRacing is worth the outrageous subscription and content costs, sometimes totaling over $150 just to run a three month season with your preferred car.
We here at PRC.net aren’t big fans of iRacing because we’re nerdy as fuck when it comes to these games, and care about little shit like physics oddities and exploits that really only affect the top 10% of drivers within the game, but in short, it’s League of Legends on wheels, and it’s by far the most popular racing game on the PC, even including mainstream titles like Project CARS, F1 2015, and Need for Speed.
But there’s one rule within the extensive Terms of Service document, which you can verify for yourself here, that’s shady as fuck.
- It is expected that each member will treat other drivers, iRacing officials, employees and the community with respect and class on and off the race track and will not bring the sport or iRacing into disrepute via their actions including but not limited to those that iRacing.com/F.I.R.S.T official deem prejudice the integrity of fair competition in any series or special events within iRacing.com.
Disrepute – The state of being held in low esteem by the public.
For those who lack the reading comprehension necessary to understand what was just displayed above: If you say bad things about iRacing, you’re violating the Terms of Service and can be subjected to a suspension or outright ban.
Think about that for a second, while we explore what this kind of bizarre rule leads to on a much bigger scale:
The year was 2013 and NASCAR’s new Generation 6 body style had just been introduced, producing some of the lousiest stock car racing ever. After a podium finish at Phoenix International Raceway, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin wasn’t fond of the new bodies and the aerodynamic issues they caused. During a post race interview with Fox Sports, Denny simply told reporters that every team on the circuit had been struggling to figure out the new cars.
He did not swear. He did not name and shame specific engineers or figureheads at NASCAR. As a driver who was entering his seventh year on NASCAR’s biggest tour, he told the TV crew how his day went. NASCAR believed this harmed their public image and fined him $25,000.
The year was 2014, and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch had stuck his dick in crazy. Despite ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll showing up unannounced to his RV and instigating a bizarre argument over their prior relationship while Busch was completely nude, Driscoll put on an Oscar-worthy performance for the judge of a Delaware Courthouse and temporarily convinced the media that the 2004 Nextel Cup Champion should be erased from the NASCAR history books after an alleged violent outburst that her own son later admitted was completely made up.
Even though Kurt was clearly on the receiving end of a woman with abandonment issues and emotional hemophilia, NASCAR handed Busch a three-week suspension for being the victim of criminal harassment, and Chevrolet temporarily cut ties with him. Driscoll was investigated for tax fraud fiver months later.
NASCAR is a multi-billion dollar corporate entity competing with the National Football League and other mammoth operations for TV ratings and advertisement revenue. While I personally don’t agree with the punishments above, every slight step out of line from anyone on the property has the potential to snowball into a disaster if you sit on your hands and do nothing. When you are a massive corporate entity on the biggest stage imaginable, you have to operate like a massive corporate entity, and sometimes, that means being absolutely fucking retarded.
iRacing is a video game. If someone points out the New Surface Model is kind of shit, they will not be interviewed by Michael Strahan on Good Morning America the day after the article is posted on the iRacing member forums. There will be a nerd fight in the afternoon on the forums during European primetime, and another nerd fight a few hours later when the American guys get off work. This isn’t a big deal.
So what does this mean for iRacing if it’s against the Terms of Service to bring iRacing into disrepute?
You can be banned for criticizing the game.
- Point out that there’s a glitch in the game’s new dynamic weather system? Suspension.
- Point out that the servers are lackluster and can’t handle massive online events? Suspension.
- Ask what the point of implementing Steam functionality was? Suspension.
- Ask why iRacing is tight-lipped over the lack of info regarding the New Surface Model? Suspension.
- Write a lengthy post on the official forums slamming the game’s experimental tire model, and the negative effect it has on the game’s physics? Forum privileges taken away.
- Say you aren’t happy with the ridiculous cost of content? Suspension.
- Show iRacing that you figured out how to run a cheat engine to edit the grip and horsepower of your car, and ask them to implement working anti-cheat software before cheating becomes rampant? Banned.
- Point out that the Street Stock sort of sucks to drive? Banned.
- Make a post on the forums criticizing the decision of a race official who punished the wrong driver in an on-track incident? Suspension.
- Say iRacing wrongly accused you of cheating during certain races, and that staff members have a vendetta against you? Banned.
Any commentator for a broadcasted league race is forced to watch their words, and even when obvious issues with the game are occurring right in front of them, are forced into pretending they don’t exist.While not a lot of people watch these broadcasts to begin with, if they see shit that’s not cool, they should be able to talk about it.
Any YouTube personality or editor for a website reviewing a new piece of content in iRacing, whether it be a car or a track, are forced to say only positive things about the new release, as they risk losing all the money they’ve dumped into the sim if iRacing isn’t satisfied with their review. The community relies on honest impressions from these sites, and these people are forced to lie due to the game’s Terms of Service. That’s not cool.
Any Peak Anti-Freeze Series or Road Course DWC drivers are forced to toe the party line if they want to continue to participate in a year-long tournament with a $10,000 cash prize for first place. These people are the most credible people to listen to when serious discussions about the game’s bugs are brought up, and they’re forced to lie or downplay certain things so they aren’t booted from the championship. That’s not cool.
And any John Smith who’s simply questioning why a new build has introduced a game-breaking issue into the game, well, if he’s too loud about it on the forums, he’s gone, no questions asked.
The precedent this has the potential to set is horrifying.