For those who make daily stops to our neck of the woods, it’s no secret that the comments section of some PRC.net articles can get extremely out of hand. With a consistent stream of articles reporting on the controversial and sometimes dark side of sim racing, as well as virtually no moderation to speak of, it’s no surprise that on any given day, a portion of sim racers are using our comments section as a virtual boxing ring. Some believe this website only serves to tear the sim racing community apart, but the reality is that PRC.net is an extremely simple operation, and I do not feel the need to dedicate any of my free time to censoring people’s comments. George Orwell’s 1984 was intended to be a work of fiction, not a detailed instruction manual. If certain sim racers feel like behaving in a retarded manner towards their fellow hobbyists and virtual competitors, I have merely provided them with a platform to do so.
At some point last summer, I sat down and crafted a fairly lengthy article detailing my experiences with the #Gamergate fiasco from a sim racer’s perspective. To bring y’all up to speed in as concise of a manner as I possibly can, the #Gamergate scandal originally spawned from an emotionally abused ex-boyfriend leaking the private details of an intimate relationship with an indie game developer. Sometimes, this is what abuse victims do. Inside the numerous Facebook screenshots detailing the couple’s toxic relationship, the author made several hints that this female game developer slept around with various journalists, in exchange for certain websites to promote her game. Some wondered how deep this rabbit hole went, and it turns out that basically every major website was corrupt or accepting bribes from developers in some fashion. Third party marketing at its finest.
As a sim racer, I was all too familiar with these kinds of relationships forming inside our own little sub-genre. InsideSimRacing, what was once an extremely informative YouTube show, essentially turned into a lengthy weekly advertisement for iRacing – complete with the hosts sporting iRacing polo shirts each episode. VirtualR.net was straight-up bought by Slightly Mad Studios, resulting in a flurry of thinly-disguised Project CARS advertisements. During my time writing articles for RaceDepartment, both Codemasters and iRacing sent site owner Bram Hengeveld several interesting emails essentially stating their feelings had been hurt because I dared to criticize the lackluster elements of their video game. Bram will most likely be pissed that I still keep one of these emails saved, but in this instance it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that certain game developers are every bit as shady as the rumors would lead you to believe.
The article generated a predictable amount of anal devastation. From what I recall, reaction from the KotakuInAction SubReddit was mostly positive, but hardcore sim racers – our intended audience – viewed the story as a piece that caused an unnecessary amount of controversy. Nobody really wanted to face the fact that all of these fantastic review sites and news outlets going through great effort to keep us updated on the world of sim racing were little more than third party marketing excursions; the authors manipulated into praising any title or individual piece of content they received as a gift from the developers themselves. Thankfully, this behavior doesn’t extent to all sim racing developers, as Sector 3 Studios have continued to provide us with press access to Race Room Racing Experience despite many negative articles, but unfortunately they are the rare exception as opposed to the norm.
Of course, with no restrictions on who is allowed to leave a comment here at PRC.net, and little in the way of dirty and/or banned words, we received this gem of a paragraph from an anonymous user:
The anonymous user attacks several portions of our #Gamergate article, first by claiming I’m slandering the various elements of the sim racing world that PRC.net covers (hint: slander is spoken, libel is written), followed by the extremely generic argument stating that I’m just “jealous” of their success, and lastly this user tells me to “get the fuck out” of Sim Racing altogether. For bonus points, the user labels me a “miserable fuck” – one step down from the title of “lying manipulative cunt” I’d been given a few years prior – but we won’t get into that. Regardless, it appears we are dealing with a reader of PRC.net no more mature than a teenage girl throwing insults at her former fling on Instagram.
And thanks to the administrative controls that WordPress supplies us with, I can determine exactly who this teenage girl is. By clicking on a single comment’s Internet Protocol address, WordPress takes me to a screen where I can see all other comments left by this user – regardless of the alias they choose to post under.
That’s no teenage girl, it’s merely Darin Gangi. Leaving a comment on another article regarding a hypothetical online featuring well-known sim racing media contributors has allowed us to confirm the angry anonymous tirade belongs to none other than the voice of Inside Sim Racing. With no less than three public outbursts to his name, including jabs at Ben Cornett, Matt Orr, and a completely random competitor in an iRacing endurance race, the host of Inside Sim Racing can now add PRC.net to his list of targets.
Gangi’s not-so-anonymous tirade falls directly in line with the behavior of more mainstream video game journalists who have had the ethics of their content called into question. Upon the #Gamergate controversy blowing up to levels never seen in modern entertainment, and a very real backlash from enthusiasts all over the world, writers across the internet promptly turned on their own audience and loudly proclaimed “gamers are dead” – a feeble attempt to shift the blame onto people who simply called them on their shit. Was questioning why a lesbian walking simulator received Game of the Year awards really bad enough to warrant an entire shipment of articles telling us we’re angry nerds who hate women? Apparently, yes.
The behavior displayed by Gangi above highlights a problem in Sim Racing that keeps the rather small community from growing into something meaningful. When even the elder statesmen and website owners of this little genre are acting like teenage girls – hiding behind anonymous posts in order to take shots at anyone who dares to question why their YouTube show is hard-coding iRacing commercials into their videos and forcing the hosts to wear iRacing polo shirts – it is a sign that something is deeply wrong with how this ecosystem operates.
I have my bucket of popcorn. Do you?