The Use of Real Names… Has it Worked?

hovercraftUnless you’ve been living under a metaphorical rock these past few days, or intentionally ignore any sim racing news related to iRacing, the team from Bedford, Massachusetts have unveiled their first major teaser trailer for dirt oval racing, the service’s newest motorsports discipline to be released for subscribers later this year. While these cars may not cater to the European sim racing audience in the slightest, and in recent times the real life equivalents have rarely manage to land cable television deals, the absolute insanity that is Saturday night short track racing creates a spectacle unlike any other, mixing the bottled chaos of NASCAR racing with the challenges of a dynamic racing surface typically seen in rally cross.

Oh, and the horsepower figures have received an enormous boost as well, with top level Sprint Cars sending nearly a thousand horsepower to the rear tires despite weighing only 623 kilograms. It’s all sort of absurd.

Obviously, iRacing have pushed out select promotional bits to compliment the progress they’re making on dirt oval racing behind the scenes, so you’d think I’d eventually talk about those here on PRC.net to kick off the weekend. Now, indeed I have the option of ripping on them for uploading a trailer without bothering to get the track mesh aligned so the cars sit on the ground properly, and I can also sit here and laugh at the irony of paid iRacing staff members mindlessly praising the experience in a fluff piece like the drones they are, but instead I’d like to address a topic that our boy Chris mentioned to me in passing a short while ago.

Though I love dirt oval racing, on select occasions I have walked out of events at Castrol Raceway prior to the checkered flag dropping because the on-track product was absolutely atrocious to sit through as a spectator. Events involving Sprint Cars, Dirt Late Models, or any number of support classes have a very real tendency to descend into absolute carnage at any given moment; sometimes the result of just one driver making a bad choice behind the wheel. Dirt oval racing is the closest form of real life auto racing that resembles a public lobby in Forza Motorsport 6 or Assetto Corsa.

I cannot possibly see how this will go over all that well on the iRacing service.

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Since its very inception, iRacing has required all members to register for the service under their real name as an additional form of on-track accountability. Rather than showing up to each session and driving against a pack of users with names such as xXStonerSnip4r420Xx and Ernhardt_Died_LOL before promptly junking the field and shouting inane garbage over the voice chat functionality, iRacing’s goal with forcing members to use their real names was to create an environment that genuinely felt as if there were real people in the virtual cars alongside you, in an effort to establish a base level of respect among the field of competitors.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t done shit to improve the on-track experience.

13613174_10204769089586074_417343082503003427_oIt may be too anecdotal for some expecting an intelligent argument on this front, but very rarely during my time on the service have I seen a competitive environment coming close to what iRacing has advertised to the outside world. My most active years on the service were back in 2012 and 2013 – years where the service was big, but still in a “growing” phase of – and most of what I saw out my virtual front windshield was really no better or worse than what a group of talented drivers on Xbox Live could produce in, say, a private DiRT 2 lobby. This is fine if you’ve purchased DiRT 2 used from Blockbuster at a discounted price, but not if you’re paying several hundred dollars for the pinnacle of sim racing.

22499475033_ea8643518a_hDuring the peak of my iRacing “career” (God that sounds awful to say), I managed to attain an iRating of 5000 points at a period when this number genuinely meant something within the community – so before you start screaming “that number is shit”, factor in a little something called ELO inflation over a period of four or five years. To sim racers who aren’t familiar with how iRacing operates, attaining this iRating would place me in the highest skill level split of each oval event I entered on the service, supposedly pitting me against the best sim racers in the world. In fact, a lot of the personalities iRacing currently parade around as part of their Peak Anti-Freeze Series, I’ve raced against and beaten.

Or gotten wrecked by.

iracingsim-2012-08-29-19-22-49-43These races were typically complete shitshows of the highest order. Let me make this incredibly clear, the use of real names did precisely nothing to clean up the otherwise horrid online racing standards. Drivers would intentionally not play iRacing for an entire week just to avoid the inevitable clusterfuck that was a restrictor plate race at Daytona or Talladega. Events at longer tracks such as Indianapolis, Pocono, or Michigan would be infuriating to participate in, as hyper-aggressive drivers would spin someone out for fifteenth place on lap three, forcing the entire field to ride around under caution for ten minutes segments at a time, only for a completely different pair of drivers to do the exact same thing when we went back to green flag racing.

pheonix-4This was against what the ELO system claimed to be the absolute best drivers iRacing had to offer. Though a lot of my acquaintances poke fun at me for doing so, there’s a reason I made the choice to spend a lot of my time in iRacing prowling the lesser-known K&N series, which made use of an outdated NASCAR Busch series car. In every race across the most prominent oval classes, there was nothing to distinguish the experience from an Xbox Live public lobby, even against the best sim racers in the world.

15974943_10205936155121983_2093911108776708163_oWhile you’d think the aggression would be toned down in lower split events, as inexperienced sim racers were more prone to giving up spots and racing in a much calmer manner simply to make it to the end in one piece, sim racing YouTube personality Joe Nathan notes the exact opposite – mentioning a race at Auto Club speedway where a major crash would occur on average, every eight laps, and nearly half of the ninety-minute online ordeal was spent following a pace car. All of this occurred on one of the widest tracks on the NASCAR calendar, which offers six entire lanes (if not more) to position your race car.

nathanThe reality is that the use of real names has done nothing to clean up the overall racing experience on the iRacing service. The overwhelming majority of sim racers currently subscribed to iRacing still drive like complete fucking retards in series where setups are purposely designed to be as noob-friendly as possible, the cars generate the most amount of downforce ever by a NASCAR Monster Energy Series race car in the history of the sport, and on circuits where there can be a good thirty lateral feet between you and another racer when completing a pass. Making everyone register for a service under the name they’ve given to their credit card company obviously hasn’t done shit.

So what has it done?

autismiRacing has now given all of the closet autistic man-children within the sim racing community – the ones who will report your Facebook pictures for porn after an on-track incident, write songs about you, or call your employer in an effort to get you fired for shitposting on the forums – full access to your personal details at a moments notice. Fantastic.

It’s no secret that our comments section here at PretendRaceCars.net can be full of complete nutters on a daily basis – indicating a portion of the sim racing community have serious mental issues – but the key thing is that these people are relatively harmless if everybody’s posting as anonymous or under a semi-bullshit username. The most one of these users can do in our neck of the woods is click the reply button and call you an asshole in some sort of delusional rant that everybody else will get a kick out of and forget about an hour later, which really isn’t a big deal. This isn’t the case on iRacing, as the service essentially gives these people who otherwise lurk in the shadows as harmless PRC trolls, unprecedented access to information that’s incredibly dangerous for the wrong person to have. A lot of people probably wonder why the three of us write under bullshit call-signs here instead of our real names, and a good portion of the reasoning is to keep this select group of mentally unstable sim racers who will go through the effort to fuck shit up at an arms length – right where they should be.

Yet on iRacing, these motherfuckers are free to find you at a moments notice, and it’s not like you have a choice on how these people will treat you.

w1200_h678_fmaxNow, let’s re-visit the underlying theme of this post; dirt oval racing. Regardless of the class currently on the track, dirt oval events can descend into complete brawls with a field of professional drivers with decades of auto racing experience. Even if, by some act of God, iRacing manage to absolutely nail the loose surface physics they’ve been working on for the better part of a year, there are zero guarantees their hardcore American users will enjoy it. Despite advertising a highly competitive and respectful online environment, requiring all members to sign up under their real names for an added level of accountability, the absolute one hundred percent truth is that this has done nothing to clean up the sub-par driving standards on the iRacing service.

Dirt oval racing, at least in real life, requires the utmost of respect towards other drivers, as some classes even prohibit the use of a rear view mirror. If iRacers cannot go more than eight laps without crashing at a NASCAR circuit that is six lanes wide, piloting cars generating the most downforce ever recorded in the history of the sport, how in God’s name are they going to hold their composure behind the wheel of a car generating almost a thousand horsepower yet weighs only six hundred kilos, and is intended to be driven sideways?

4059d8cffd732cd1f97168fca2183a35This is why dirt oval racing simply won’t work on the iRacing service, and will instead be a gigantic waste of time and resources when all is said and done. The entire discipline revolves around on-track respect and working as a unit to put on a clean race, and on iRacing, those are two concepts that have been completely lost on the community despite the staff’s best efforts to foster that kind of environment.

 

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56 thoughts on “The Use of Real Names… Has it Worked?

  1. And…this is why I race offline against AI. No, they aren’t that great, but I’ve always found that the average AI driver is vastly better than the average human driver.

    Imagine how players would be howling with disapproval if the AI in a racing game behaved the way people do in these online events.

    League racing would be cool, though. Too bad I’ve got a 3 year old who can instantly veto any gaming session, at any time, via the simple expedient of crawling on my lap and beating on the wheel while he yells “RACE CAR PAPPA!!”.

    So, yeah. Offline for a while.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed, even being in a league would be painful, I want to decide when I want to have fun with a fucking video game, what if I have to work during a weekend or something? What if I need to take a shit in the middle of a race? Or answer a phone call?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Depends really on the league – I could name you at least 2 where i know people get punished and excluded if drive shitty, they have a license system where you don’t even get into the better races if you don’t behave properly

        I also saw that all other leagues I was sofar in had exactly the problem you described and therefore I left

        Like

    2. I’m not familiar with the oval side, but in 700+ road races on the service, I’ve never seen any of the behavior discussed in the typical PRC iRacing posts.

      iRacing is far from perfect, but on the road racing side, I think the real name requirement has been very successful.

      Like

      1. “in 700+ road races on the service, I’ve never seen any of the behavior discussed in the typical PRC iRacing posts.”

        What? What?
        The only way such a comment could be true is if it was said by a blind iRacer.
        Im a 5+ years member and eventhough Im reasonably good getting out of trouble I have seen this more or less mandatory carnage or rearending each others in 99% of races.
        Again and again.

        My own conclusion is that it has something to do with the lack of physical and economical consequences of wrecking each other in virtual racing.
        This and the added physical non-facing each other sitting behind our own personal monitors makes this simracing scenario complete different from RL racing.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I fully agree on a consequence-less environment being a majority of the problem. (finances aside)

          I don’t think there’s any way to solve it either, sadly. We’re seeing that real-names mean nothing either, so unless people mature-the-fuck-up, sim-racing online will continue to be it’s own special little hell.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Although nearsighted, I’m certainly not blind.

          That said, I don’t race GT3, but in Mazda Cup, Advanced MX-5 Cup, SRF and Skippy races, the worst behaviors I’ve run across are excessive dive bombing and first lap aggression.

          I’ve never run into people claiming they were looking for ALMS rides, nor anyone distributing hero cards etc.

          I’m certainly not claiming iRacing offers a perfect, or even the best, sim racing environment, but I’ve really enjoyed my time with the service, and racing against “real names” imbues the experience with an authenticity that I appreciate.

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          1. “but I’ve really enjoyed my time with the service, and racing against “real names” imbues the experience with an authenticity that I appreciate.”

            My more negative view on iRacing is probably reflecting that after 5+ years I have become so fu**ng tired of this childish uber-agressive driving that I have decided to let my membership run out.

            OK my decision has also been easier because iRacings anual membership and cars/tracks suddenly has become more expensive (no black friday + extra european VAT).

            Like

        3. I did 300 races last year. Most of my races were /mostly/ clean. Yes, people would wreck out, but it wasn’t any different than most real life races. GT3 has had wrecks in the first turn and even on the front straight IRL. Same with NASCAR. Etc.

          But seriously, a majority of my races had large numbers of green flag runs and pretty clean racing. But I have a pretty /average/ iRating, so I tend to be in the group that isn’t terrible, but isn’t running on full steam 110% of the time.

          And I mostly race B-Cup and Skip. Heck even my GT3 races were surprisingly clean. =/ And my last race was a Skip Barber race on Mount Panorama that ended with the leader and me colliding in corner after the final long straight I forget the name of and even then it wasn’t that big of a deal. I got a cut track but whatever it was fun racing and I congratulated him. He was like “You came out of nowhere! What the heck” 😄 it was fun.

          I know of a number of people who have a horrible time on the service. I’ve been having a wonderful time lately though. Maybe just being more relaxed about it helped, I don’t know. But I did do almost half of my career races last year so it’s really not as bad as everyone says it is. And I think I was down at near 1000 iRating at the beginning of last year. Haven’t gone up a terrible amount due to some early disconnects recently (I was up at like 1800 then dropped down to 1400 because I left like 3-4 races too early because I missed the starts and was like “I’m not gonna sit here for 45 minutes driving without anyone to race against)

          Article seems a bit petty and childish but I can understand your perspective, even if I disagree with it. ❤

          Like

      2. 900 + STARTS, roadside
        agree 100% iRacing is far from perfect, but on the road racing side, I think the real name requirement has been very successful

        oval issue..

        Like

      3. You must be lucky. It seems to be the norm these days at iRacing, not the exception. I just gave up on running races, too many goddamn fools overdosing on testosterone on iRacing. I only run practices for shits and giggles now, the nutjobs rarely practice so you mostly see decent racers in there. I get more satisfaction out of just fuckin’ about building setups and seeing how my times compare to the non-nutjobs.

        The whole concept of assigning driver skill points is asinine too, that goofy web system used by Assetto is a fine example. First race I ran after it was put in place some dick decided he didn’t like me and just rammed me until I acquired enough negative points to get banned. He had enough points that it didn’t affect him at all. And that system is totally faceless, when you’re screwed you’re just screwed.

        Even leagues suck these days, you get the “old boys club” running it and if you run afoul of one of the old boys they’ll hound your ass out of there. Winning too much will cause this quicker than being an asshole. Never beat the old boys more than a couple of times or you’re history.

        Human nature is an odd beast in these times, and it gets its weird ass out totally in sim racing.

        Like

  2. Came for the “Hitler did nothing wrong painted on an iRacing livery” screenshot from ages ago.

    Disappointed.

    It would’ve been the perfect moment to bring that glorious moment of iRacing back.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, that means we can all sit around a campfire and recollec stories about the SRD cringe adventures.

        Like

  3. i have a feeling dirt won’t be as big as some make it out to be. it will be a complete wreck fest,where after a season or two,you will be left with a very low populated series where everyone runs in a line like a train to avoid losing any of that precious Irating,too scared to make passes or get close.

    For all the pr bs I think both safety systems have actually discouraged racing,that and the licensing system serving no purpose other than to say,hey you can race this car now,most series are a shit show because you can join iracing and learn nothing by the time your an a class driver,I’m living proof that you can progress without learning anything.

    Like

      1. So were you forced to up your game before you could advance the licences,nah I bet you just started from the back or pits and did not race,just drove round letting people pass or not even bother to over take anyone.
        That saying of don’t race just finish to get out of rookies is spouted for a reason.
        You can get to a class without becoming a better racer,you can finish last as long as you drive like your not there to race and advance licences.

        Iracing won’t bother to make the license system into a proper progressive structure because most would get frustrated and not bother,which will hurt content sales.

        If you don’t think both ir and sr are pointless then I can see why too,classic iracer

        Like

        1. I agree that the licensing system is essentially meaningless, but I’ve improved significantly, as both a driver, an racer, in my time on the service.

          Although I didn’t start from the pits as a rookie, you’re absolutely correct that I didn’t really race anyone. I didn’t know how to race in traffic, and my goal back then was simply to finish races unscathed.

          Times have since changed, as have my goals.

          Regarding iR and SR, I don’t have access to the data that would allow me to form an opinion regarding their validity, but I certainly don’t view them as pointless.

          Like

    1. I agree, except see KesiM’s post above. It’s really tough for someone like me (wife, kid, 80h/week job in an ER with crazy hours) to commit to it. But I’ve had a couple of really good experiences and hopefully one day my lifestyle will change to allow that sorta thing. Probably when I’m so fucking old that they’ll have to carry me to the rig.

      Oddly enough, it’s always been way easier for me to go to an actual track day with my car. Because if my wife (or my 3 y/o!) sees me “sitting around in front of the computer”, I’m suddenly fair game.

      So, the moral of this story: Devote your entire existence to sim racing. Human relationships are a trivial encumbrance.

      Ah, but you say you need to work? I’ve got a solution:

      Social Security Disability Insurance. Just Google a psych illness, memorize the criteria, and then regurgitate the symptoms to some “doctor” in a strip mall office. They’ll charge a few hundred to fill out the paperwork, but it’s well worth the lifetime free cash. Which you’re gonna need, since you’ve devoted your existence to sim racing. Or use it on meth/xanax/cocaine/oxy/hookers (all popular options for Disability cash).

      God, I love this country.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Which totally negates the whole concept of iracing,if your going to just join a league,which a lot of longstanding members tell noobs to do when they get frustrated at the shot show of popular series,then what’s the point of paying for this ” world leading online racing sim”.

      Like

  4. Great post.. agree 100%

    Playing iracing less and less for this very reason.. iRating went from 2300 to 1600 in a few weeks because of rear enders and divers.. Now i’m back with the riff raff again.. fuck that..

    Just using it for hotlapping now.. AMS and RF2 FTW!

    Like

  5. Couldn’t someone write a program to diagnose what a driver is doing wrong? That might make iracings price worth it, because the utter lack of understanding is the underlying problem.

    Like

  6. Are we not going to talk about how bad the the dirt looks in the those videos?????? game from 7 years ago had moving dirt while racing… why cant they??? It looks like fcking Pavement

    Like

  7. I was checking out some of the latest videos from Iracing when I came across this little gem of a GT race from the Synology Championship:

    I’ve only watched 10 minutes of racing so far and it seems like atleast half the field has been involved in some sort of incident whether it be self induced or by another driver.

    If that’s the sort of “High quality” racing Iracing is willing to upload to its own youtube channel then I think it’s fair to say the service is nowhere near achieving all that it proclaims to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Honestly as plate racing demonstrates the easier the cars are to drive the more wrecking there is usually. So it’s not like Cup cars getting easier to drive was going to make things better.

    Late models will be dead outside of leagues, 305 Sprint Cars at 1/2 and 5/8 tracks will be top kek festivals like IndyCar oval with the same midwest nutcases.

    Like

  9. Ogonoski, I know who you are. God forbid I catch you in the pits at a dirt track, because if I do? I’ll bash your fucking skull in with a sprint cars torsion bar, you autistic fuck.

    Like

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