I think a handful of people won’t be happy that this is the subject I’ve chosen to write about today, but occasionally I enjoy breaking down the fourth wall and showing our readers what it’s like to be “the main guy” behind PRC.net on a daily basis. Yes, this is a drama post under the Internet Safety category, and I’m giving you guys fair warning so those who can’t be assed with this stuff can click away in time, but for the rest who want to bust out a bag of microwave popcorn and indulge in the absurdity that is the sim racing community, I don’t think this one will be topped for a while.
Earlier this week, I penned an article regarding how sim racers have a very real tendency to scare off outsiders and fellow virtual motorsports enthusiasts alike with an array unacceptable behavior rivaling that of the My Little Pony fandom – in particular the weird, creepy, delusional side. As much as I will be crucified by the language police for my rather harsh choice of words, the amount of unrestricted autism that is allowed to blossom has lead to situations where real drivers using these games as relaxing off-season diversions are instead made to feel extremely uncomfortable, indivudals who don’t pretend all is well within the genre are subjected to aggressive brigading, and guys in their mid-to-late twenties genuinely believe there are top-tier NASCAR scouts monitoring the performance and reputation of their internet racing team.
As the most popular modern racing simulators highly emphasize the competitive online element, you basically can’t avoid these people even if you try, and as a result, sim racing has began to descend a very dark and disturbing path. Like our boy Chris pointed out in the comments section, select incidents have seen iRacing members locate where their virtual on-track rivals were currently employed, and left messages with their respective Human Resource departments to try and get them fired.
I suggested the best way to combat this wave of unacceptable behavior was with good old-fashioned social moderation – essentially calling these people out in public and shaming them into not being so fucking retarded – as currently the sim racing community as a whole are too willing to accept grown adults acting like teenagers obsessed with children’s cartoons. Don’t get me wrong, I like sim racing, but it’s certainly not at the point where I’m willing to help introduce my real life friends into the scene. Unless you’re already desensitized to it, the average person curious about what iRacing or Assetto Corsa has to offer is going to instantly pull a 180 upon seeing shit like this.
In the aforementioned article, one of the examples I included as proof that the sim racing community has gone astray, was a Facebook conversation between John Hammer and other members of his iRacing team – one where he admitted to calling up iRacing’s headquarters and discussing some article he had read on PRC. I commented that it was strange for someone to get so upset over a blog post about a video game they actually went out of their way to phone the developers themselves to notify them of it – and I’m sure most of you will agree my assessment of that scenario was fairly accurate. It’s pretty weird that if you write something negative about a video game you own, grown men sitting on the forums will tattle on you as if this is the kindergarten playground. I understand from his explanation above that it was part of a larger conversation, but still, I could only go off of what I saw written in his original Facebook post.
Yet as you see above, Hammer took to the iRacing forums and proceeded to construct a highly delusional three paragraph essay in a tone akin to professional press releases for a real-life auto racing team, claiming his privacy had been violated, his fictional online NASCAR team was actually a legitimate registered business, and heavily implied he would pursue legal action against us – all while making sure to dance around iRacing’s complicated sporting code and apologizing to the iRacing community, most of whom had no idea what the fuck he was talking about to begin with. Knowing I’m not an iRacing member and wouldn’t be able to read his forum post, he regurgitated a smaller version of his overall message in our comments section, but I think we can all agree nobody is going to top this in the foreseeable future.
I would like to understand how on earth iRacing has convinced random sim racers who aren’t anywhere close to participating in the $10,000 PEAK Anti-Freeze Series championship, that their pretend online racing team – which is really just a bunch of guys bullshitting on Teamspeak and working on setups together – needs to be taken so seriously it ends up turning into a registered business, and some guy taking screenshots of your comments on Facebook suddenly requires you to begin throwing around professionally-worded legal threats in an online gaming forum.
I mean, when I created my pretend rally team in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, I sure as hell don’t recall the game instructing me to input my social insurance number, nor did it advise me to hire an accountant for when the Canadian government tries to collect taxes on my Career Mode prize money, so I’m a bit lost here.
But my initial confusion did not seem to deter the entity known as NoXqses Racing, which doesn’t actually appear to be a registered business as the ramblings suggest considering I can’t find the appropriate online documentation to confirm, but instead one of many shitty iRacing teams that don’t have a hope in hell of advancing to any of the respected premiere series – though you can check out their 29-page souvenir book HERE if you’re bored.
To my bewilderment, these guys went out and proved the exact point I was trying to make in Tuesday’s article about some sim racers needing a reality check; no less than twenty four hours after the entry went live, a group of delusional sim racers have set out to prove that driving in circles on the computer is serious business not intended for mere gamers, tracked down my actual address (which honestly isn’t difficult to find, and I embrace all packages of adult toys now destined for my doorstep), and for a third time had heavily implied they were looking at embarking on potential legal action – while also claiming the guy who’d supplied us with the screenshot they were so asshurt about, had actually breached his contract with the team.
I really hope this guy is like, not all there mentally, because I can’t comprehend the concept of forcing someone to sign an actual contract just to drive for your iRacing team. The majority of participants within the Peak Anti-Freeze Series are merely gamers who happen to specialize in one very specific genre, hanging out on a semi-public chat server within the company of their online friends, and relying on half-eaten bags of Doritos to fuel their lengthy testing sessions. There is simply no need to register your team as a business and demand other sim racers to sign a legally binding contract to drive for your pretend racing team – especially if you aren’t even in the Peak Anti-Freeze Series, but instead some random no-name scrub on iRacing like 99% of the members.
It’s fine to make a custom team logo, or even a tongue-in-cheek Facebook page to keep your bros or fellow sim racers up-to-date on your results or accomplishments. It’s fine to create a very specific team livery that all of your different cars run, it’s basically the norm to have one of your people pay for a Teamspeak or Discord server, and it’s also fairly common to have the name of your buddy’s small business on the side of your virtual race cars. I’m not saying don’t run a sim racing team and intentionally prohibit your inner child from playing pretend for a bit within the confines of a highly realistic virtual environment. We’re all sim racers here, we understand that there’s a light role-playing element to all of this organized online league stuff, and it can be a lot of fun under the right circumstances.
But if you’re the head of some online racing team, and you’re pestering message boards and Email inboxes with legal threats which include discussing things that should never pop up in the world of sim racing, such as contracts for individual drivers, and talking as if your pretend racing team is a registered business in your state, you’ve fucking lost it. This isn’t what sim racing is about, and this is the kind of shit that will scare off newcomers from even buying a wheel.
Immersion is being able to sit in front of your computer after a shitty day at work, and for a few short moments convince yourself that the images displayed on the monitor in front of you are placing you behind the wheel of a professional category race car in a highly competitive environment. Delusion is when you’re under the belief that a pack of virtual race cars requires a business license and actual contracts to operate, all while your competitors are sitting behind the plastic wheel attached to their desk in their boxers sipping on a glass of Mountain Dew Baja Blast.
There is no need to register your iRacing team as an actual business. There is no need to send legal threats to a sim racing website after they put your absurd behavior on display. And there is no need to force your online friends – who in reality just want to hang out and play NASCAR online with you – to sign a legally binding contract just to drive for your fantasy online NASCAR team. It’s absolutely, one hundred percent silly. Stop.
I get that some people love the role-playing element of heading over to OperationSports.com and publishing write-ups of their Madden franchise. That’s cool. I also understand that some people love uploading fake Monster Jam events on YouTube, recreated with the help of Monster Truck Madness 2. That’s fine. This, however, is not. This is fucked up. Don’t do this. I really hope iRacing contracts are restricted to just this one specific group of delusional sim racers, and not an actual thing at the Peak Anti-Freeze Series level.
Then again, Leicester City won the Premier League championship, the Edmonton Oilers are finally a competent hockey team again, iRacing have smoothed things over with us, and Codemasters managed to put out a decent Formula One game this year, so anything is possible at this point.