I feel like we’re reaching a point here on PRC.net where it’s almost time to split the iRacing tag into two specific sub-categories. On one end of the spectrum, even though I currently don’t have an active iRacing account, many of our readers do, and it’s important to cover both software updates and content releases to keep people informed without the generic PR babble found on other publications. Yet what ends up happening is that the complete absurdity of the iRacing community often manages to steal the spotlight away from the more traditional set of articles breaking down changes in the software, and we end up using the iRacing tag to discuss a diverse group of delusional man-children using the simulator to live out their failed auto racing dreams.
Each and every time I venture into the iRacing Subreddit, I’m genuinely impressed by how backwards this particular set of sim racers can be. Readers who have stuck around PRC.net for the long haul are familiar with my intense hatred towards the average iRacing member for being far too emotionally invested in a simple video game, yet now it feels as if meme magic is guiding the world of sim racing, and iRacers are making a subconscious effort to live up to their stereotype against their will. Now before I get started on today’s discoveries, I’d like to briefly outline the four elements I feel most iRacers exhibit which cause them to have such a poor reputation outside of their own member forums.
- iRacers are eager to throw money away when it isn’t even necessary. They defend the enormous cost of the simulator compared to other video games in the same genre by pretending iRacing is somehow in a league of its own when it comes to computer software, and it supposedly isn’t fair to hold the game to the same general set of standards you would for another driving simulator like rFactor 2, Project CARS, or Assetto Corsa. These people also constantly take steps to make pricey improvements to their sim setup in the quest for both immersion and pace, yet these efforts are always futile; no matter how fancy your sim rig is, you will always be sitting in a basement playing a video game, and equipment does not determine your on-track performance.
- iRacers invest more than is necessary into their virtual driving career. It’s cool to take a few screenshots of your custom livery and plaster it on Facebook. It’s fine to celebrate a couple of big wins every now and then; I mean, if you win a My Little Pony fan art competition, you still won something, and that’s neat to be good at something you do in your spare time. It’s not cool to pass out hero cards for your iRacing team inside the garage area of a real NASCAR venue; it’s actually really awkward. And you don’t need to thank all your sponsors during a carefully rehearsed speech in your post-race interview on some YouTube Stream with 30 viewers. There are no NASCAR scouts watching the 6:30pm Class C Fixed race, nor will Tony Stewart throw you in his Sprint Car if you decimate the field during some Mobil 1 virtual showdown gimmick. The higher up the iRacing ladder you progress, the more you’ll run into folks who have unfortunately forgotten that they’re playing a video game.
- iRacers are hyper-sensitive to aggression. The game’s userbase is big enough to house several different sub-communities that all gravitate towards one series or discipline, yet small enough where everybody knows everybody else in some fashion. Drivers who are deemed by the rest of the pack to be “too aggressive” on the track, “too crude” over the chat functionality, or “too abrasive” on the member forums are forced to deal with their contemporaries ganging up on them and basically chasing them away from the iRacing servers. The irony in this situation is that real-life auto racing is aggressive as hell; middle-fingers flying out the window are a daily occurrence, shady moves and occasional contact are merely part of driving a race car, physical fights in the pits routinely land on the front page of many motorsports news outlets, controlled substances are more common than you’d think (and you’re naive if you believe otherwise), and the dialect used among peers and on the radio is anything but G-rated. The sim racing community which populates iRacing effectively tries to enforce a chess club-like code of conduct in a competitive environment that resembles the aggression of professional hockey.
- iRacers feel their sim of choice places them on a platform above other sim racers. You’ll see this across many message boards where users are allowed to openly discuss a variety of racing simulators under one roof; those that dare to imply iRacing isn’t the gold standard in virtual auto racing are promptly bullied by a flurry of iRacing members whose entire post history consist of pro-iRacing comments – most of which immediately resort to accusing the user of not being able to afford iRacing, or that they have an irrational vendetta against the developers.
So we now get to the topic at hand today, which starts us with brockman44’s rather innocent question to the iRacing community on Reddit. Quite simply, he runs a low field of view setting that was undoubtedly the result of fiddling with a field of view calculator, and has now realized driving with binocular vision is not very effective when racing in a pack on an oval circuit. He wants to know the best way to visually monitor the competition beside him, and inquires about either a triple monitor setup, or a virtual reality headset.
Had a friend posed this question to me while we were bullshitting on Teamspeak, the short answer I’d give is “neither.” You can map a Look Left/Look Right button to your steering wheel, and use INI configuration files to adjust the head swivel time to be instantaneous; just long enough to check on the status of the car beside you. Aside from cranking up the spotter frequency to max – so he continues to repeat “Car Outside” every second or so – field of view calculators aren’t entirely reliable (sometimes producing completely unusable results), and there is no harm in jacking up the FOV value and moving the seat position around so the extreme edges of the monitor display just a sliver of your side window – and thus letting you see where your competitors are sitting if they get beside you on-track. What I’m getting at, is brockman44 can solve his lateral visibility problems in about fifteen seconds.
The highest rated comment, posted by Melbeachmoose20, encourages him to drop $400 on two additional PC monitors. This is insane. Don’t do this. Rather than use any one of the twenty-second suggestions I mentioned above – some of which can be done simply by visiting the options menu in-game – brockman44 is told by a fellow iRacer to bust out the credit card. This is buffoonish advice, and only goes to show some iRacers have no fucking idea what they’re talking about. Changing the field of view setting is free. Mapping two buttons for Look Left and Look Right is free. Moving the seat around is free. As a sim racer who runs a single monitor setup quite successfully, you simply do not need to drop $400 just to see the cars beside you. If you want some sort of man-cave setup with a proper racing seat and three monitors because of the cool factor, then yes, I understand. But the problem in the original post is purely down to not being able to see your competitors, and omitting several twenty-second fixes to push this kind of purchase on someone is just plain fucking crazy.
We now arrive at a different Reddit post from a couple of weeks ago, posted by a user operating under the tag of iracer46. While not hardware-related like the last example, this one really drills home how fragile the average iRacer can be. A lengthy introduction (by reddit standards) gives way to the story of an obviously talented sim racer running circles around the field and being a lippy asshole through the game’s voice chat system – as if nobody has ever done this in the history of online gaming anywhere. It’s important to note that by the author’s own admission, the iRacer being slammed for his behavior wasn’t actually wrecking anyone or being a nuisance on track; he was merely shit-talking the rest of the pack, which has been par for the course in virtually every online computer game dating back to the late 1990’s. iracer46 goes on to describe this user as “the most despicable iRacing member” he has ever encountered, and claims this guy has severe psychological issues.
Again, I have to reiterate that it’s October 5th, 2016, and basically everyone whose even partially invested into online gaming in this day and age will list “shit-talking little kids and other random gamers on Xbox Live” as a fond memory of their teenage years. If you are so fragile that merely being in iRacing’s version of a public lobby with a guy being a goof through the voice chat system inspires you to write a blog post ripping on his “despicable” behavior, all you’re doing is proving my point that the average iRacer is a hyper-sensitive man-child who shouldn’t be anywhere near a real race car.
Because this sort of thing is common-place not just on the voice chat servers in competitive online gaming, but in real life auto racing as well – you know, the environment iRacing is trying to accurately simulate? This brings up a comment I mentioned earlier in this entry; iRacers are genuinely trying to turn a high-energy, dog-eat-dog competition into a High School Chess Club on wheels to prevent from hurting anybody’s feelings. This is just embarrassing.
I think maybe we should make this the next big thing on PRC.net; along with our standard Reader Submissions, you guys are welcome to send in anything retarded you come across on the iRacing forums, and we’ll bundle them up in a couple compilation articles to display how ridiculous some of this stuff can get. Are you guys down? We sure are.