Looking back, I think my favorite memory of the Modern Warfare craze that was unleashed upon the gaming world about a decade ago was sitting down with my high school friends, and banging out lengthy legal documents over a late-night Pizza 73 order to determine ownership of our online clan. We had to enlist the help of several lawyers – paid for via paper routes and part-time babysitting jobs – to determine how our Hardcore Team Deathmatch squad would function outside of the Xbox Live servers, and it was a true test of both our friendship and our managerial skills when one of our best players was placed on house arrest after his role in a violent home invasion. The four letters next to our names in each Call of Duty lobby were not just a tag to indicate our group was a bunch of try-hards hoping to become professional CoD players and skip the grind of minimum wage jobs after graduating; we were a legitimate business – and we had the paperwork to back it up.
Sound like complete bullshit?
That’s because it is – well, aside from Greg’s shenanigans in Montana. During my time spent mucking around on GameBattles back in the days of friendly helicopters and glitching outside the map for easy kills, not one team we ever ran across treated an online video game as a legitimate business. As if divine intervention finally allowed us to play Cowboys and Indians with an unlimited supply of opponents, Call of Duty pitted your squad of dweeby teenagers jacked up on Monster against an equally dweeby set of kids from Kansas City. Or Davenport. Or Cleveland. And it was beautiful. Despite the allure of a mammoth payday for the top clans on the service, and the promises of getting flown out to highly lucrative tournaments offering more money than weekly shifts at Taco Bell would ever throw at you, the competitive Call of Duty scene during the height of its popularity in early 2008 still understood that at the end of the day, it was just some shitty modern military shooter where the spawns were fucked, and killstreaks sealed a victory.
Yes, there were Xbox Live party chat tantrums, clans fracturing at the center, and anally devastated campers protesting the results of a fair match in which you utterly dominated their group from start to finish, but nobody was throwing nine page ownership documents at you, just for saying “bro, we should start a clan on GameBattles.”
Operating under the name of NoXQses Racing, John Hammer’s squad of virtual drivers within the iRacing online service compete primarily within two of the several generic stock car championships found within the regular roster of events, open to any iRacer with the appropriate license rating. There are no cash prizes for capturing the overall championship in either the Class A Open series, nor the NASCAR iRacing Series, yet this has not stopped Hammer from supposedly registering his pretend racing team as a legitimate business in the state of Utah, and throwing lengthy legal documents at his “co-owners.”
Unlike the NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, which offers a $10,000 cash prize and a free trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway to the series champion – broadcasting each round of the season live on iRacing.com – the Class A Championship is part of iRacing’s regular rotation of events for members to partake in. The NASCAR iRacing Series turns the hardcore dial up to eleven – offering full length online events mirroring the real live NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule – but again, these events do not pay or produce any sort of incentive to participate in them. They are no different in stature than booting up Call of Duty and jumping into a round of Hardcore Search & Destroy. It’s just sort of there for people who are tired of iRacing pandering to the casual audience and slowly reducing the length of other popular series on the service.
Yet somehow, this warrants a nine-page team ownership document. As someone who actually understands how the whole iRacing ecosystem works, the NASCAR iRacing Series championship is one hundred percent meaningless. It’s basically the iRacing staff saying “on the Friday evening before each real life Monster Cup race, we’ll have our own full-length race for you guys to participate in.” The Class A Open setup championship on the other hand does indicate who can enter the iRacing Pro Series – a feeder series for the massive Peak championship iRacing constantly advertise through their social media – but some of the drivers for NXQ don’t even posses a high enough iRating to find themselves in the highest split of each event, making it virtually impossible to compete for a title given how iRacing awards more points to those in the highest split of the event.
Just looking at some of the results on their website, these guys clearly don’t have a shot at any of iRacing’s premiere leagues – in some cases, they’re actually getting beaten by sim racers using a setup downloaded off the forums and having a wank under caution. For NXQ to run around behind the scenes and throw all sorts of silly legal documents at people merely frequenting the same Teamspeak as them, it’s as if your buddy went out and got a professional photographer to shoot his beer league softball team in action. These guys have totally lost the plot.
But it just goes to show the kinds of people currently on the iRacing service, and how the sim racing community has drastically changed over the years – creating a climate where delusional behavior is almost encouraged rather than squashed. Look man, I love my video games. I enjoy the process of creating a car, developing setups with my bros, and all joining some kind of private league together, because top level sim racing can be really fun if everyone’s in a similar state of mind. You forget about a good Call of Duty match five minutes after the time limit has expired, but a solid league race stays with you for a few days, and there’s nothing wrong about diving head first into the positive vibes sim racing can produce.
This, however, is absolutely absurd. Here you have a team that’s not even competing for cash prizes – just entering the standard set of races available on the service – and they’re throwing these bizarre PDF’s at people just to take partial ownership of a pretend racing team. This is like, actually nuts. I don’t even take my own goddamn website seriously despite all of the shit we’ve accomplished in roughly two years of operation, and here you have the absolute definition of random iRacers trying to run their Teamspeak group as some sort of registered professional eSport operation – despite the rest of their competition basically showing up to races with a bag of Doritos and some tissues next to the toy steering wheel.
Now some of you are probably thinking there’s like a team creation element to iRacing, where you have to pay extra to establish a new team on the service, and subject yourself to a monthly fee just to keep it operational – which would somewhat justify the legal babble you see inserted into this article. You don’t. It’s literally a process off filling out a bunch of name fields, and then inviting your friends. It’s a bit flashier than the same concept was back in the days of IndyCar Racing II, but the premise has remained effectively unchanged since 1996. Fill out the field indicating your team name, and congratulations, you’re a team!
Does the above video look like it warrants a nine page legal document? Of course not. And it never has. If you’re just getting into the world of sim racing, and a couple people have invited you to join their crew or start an online racing team – only to throw ridiculous PDF files at you – run the other way. This isn’t what sim racing is about. These people have lost it. There is simply no reason you should ever be required to sign one of these when taking your online league participation endeavors to the next level. At the end of the day, you’re playing an online video game with slightly more realistic physics than Gran Turismo, not some sort of officially sanctioned world where each virtual racing clan has a legal consultant on standby.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I just created a team in IndyCar Racing II, and have to ring up my lawyer.