Outside of sim racing, everyone’s got their own external interests, and yours truly is no different. I stumbled upon CrowbCat’s work browsing 4Chan one evening, and was promptly led down a literal rabbit hole of YouTube content, in which lengthy montages of video clips from other sources conveyed pretty elaborate story arcs that outlined botch video game releases, or pieces of technology that received elaborate marketing pushes, only to fall flat on their respective faces. As someone who runs a very basic WordPress blog and nothing more – I’m probably the only guy in this whole sim racing media gig to not have an accompanying “official YouTube channel” and a steady stream of videos to support his written content – I was captivated at how someone speaking no words at all, and following no hastily edited script throughout his videos, could convey the same kind of abrasive realities as what we’ve been doing here for just under three years now at PRC.
So rather than give you another weekly tirade explaining why the hobby of sim racing is often more disappointing and confusing than it is rewarding and engaging, instead I embarked upon a small personal art project this afternoon to convey that message through what are otherwise non-traditional means for us. Under the title of Sim Racing is Wonderful, I have provided a montage of short clips in rapid succession from prominent sim racing YouTube channels, as well as the occasional mainstream-oriented gaming outlets, to showcase through the community’s own words and actions why there are a cluster of rogue sim racers who call places like PRC home, and openly voice their disdain for their favorite hobby.
The video, which is three minutes in length, begins with a bite-sized recap of InsideSimRacing’s review of Formula One 2017, yanking key lines from the thirty minute affair. Both John Sabol and Billy Strange Jr. shower the Codemasters game with praise in what is easily ISR’s most positive review of any video game or simulator in the ten year history of the online show, only for Strange to questionably double back and recommend the “hardcore sim racers” – who would otherwise be salivating at the sheer volume of positive elements and quotes from the review of this year’s Formula One game – to wait for the title to go on sale before purchasing the game, almost to appease viewers who may become agitated at a mass-market racing game usurping the already established PC sim racing hierarchy.
Following the intro frame, choice quotes from spokespersons for the three biggest simulators on the market – iRacing, Project CARS, and Assetto Corsa – are presented to the viewer, followed by some of my own personal favorite issues with the respective pieces of software that I’ve found on YouTube over the years, such as iRacing stock cars being able to drive and pass opponents while hanging nearly upside-down off of the catch fence. This is to show the very stark contrast between the egos of developers in talking about their game to the general public, and the crafty marketing department tricks which rope real world racers into openly boasting about the authenticity of the software, versus what is actually occurring when the average sim racer starts diving deep into these games.
The montage then transitions into a personal selection of some of my favorite public sim racing outbursts over the years from both media personalities and everyday sim racers, displaying how the level of respect between virtual racers seen in most online sessions, is simply nowhere near what the community tries to imply to the outsiders looking to get in on the action. Instead, we see things for what they really are: middle-aged men with shitty tempers. This is not uncommon out on the physical race track, in fact in many instances it’s actually quite justified, but to see it manifest so quickly over virtual circumstances is a bit much for what’s at stake, and it’s a bit embarrassing.
Next, I’ve included a few choice examples of how the YouTube personalities in our hobby – those who provide highly in-depth reviews on pieces of software and hardware in advance of the scheduled release date, or conduct small driving/racecraft seminars for budding sim racers – are often poor drivers themselves. I’ve tried not to go too far into this territory, as the two personalities I’ve used in my montage are exceptionally nice people behind the scenes and deserve every last click they receive on their respective websites, but it just goes to show that in many occasions, personalities a large part of the sim racing community trusts for highly informative reviews, at the end of the day aren’t very good at the games they play, and that’s kind of a strange dynamic for a hobby primarily centered around enthusiast websites and pushing virtual cars to the absolute limit.
We then travel to both the 2016 iRacing World Grand Prix Series, as well as the 2017 Formula E VISA Vegas eRace, two events that were intended to showcase the absolute best drivers within the sim racing community, both fields competing for a substantial cash prize – both of which providing a purse exponentially higher than some American IndyCar events. Without taking the video on a tangent, both races descend into chaos; iRacing’s best sim racers are subjected to a comical first corner crash no better or worse than the “public lobbies” they’re trying to avoid, whereas the eRace showcases three greedy drivers making a beeline for one position, only to cripple their vehicles in a laughably bad wreck which showcased to a live audience how technologically inferior this hobby is compared to other video game genres. In both instances, they are two shining examples that show off how even at the very top of the ladder, online races are immature crashfests.
No sooner do the cars stop rolling do we travel to the world of over-priced hardware, as clips of a man in his late twenties confessing to building a simulator by means of multiple credit cars and payday loans are intertwined with YouTube personalities revealing the cost of high end toy steering wheels, and explaining how these computer toys are made up of industrial strength equipment – which to any reasonable adult is pretty absurd for a computer toy. Taking place after a montage of the disastrous games and generally unwelcoming community, the selection of clips are meant for the viewer to question the motives behind willingly investing well beyond one’s means in such a toxic and anti-consumer hobby.
We are then presented with an interview featuring iRacing’s mastermind David Kaemmer circa 2008, in which he reveals iRacing to the mainstream masses at GameSpot, proudly telling the team of scenarios in which real drivers had used the brand new iRacing software to practice for upcoming events, and it actually made them faster out on the real racing surface. Fast-forwarding about eight years, we are then brought to a livestream featuring Aston Martin factory driver and 2016 World Endurance Championship GTE class winner Nicki Thiim, who after conversing with a friend about real world setup tricks that don’t work in iRacing, declares iRacing’s physics to be shit, contradicting the preceding interview with Kaemmer completely.
With the montage winding down, Marco Massarutto of Kunos Simulazioni appears once again to explain how he took great pride in gaming journalists labeling his team’s flagship work, Assetto Corsa, to be the “Gran Turismo of the PC.” This exchange is interrupted by footage of the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa, in which a user merely restarting the race causes his race car to explode into the stratosphere from his pit stall – a far cry from the polish and classy feel we’ve come to known from the Gran Turismo games. The viewer is left to decide whether his comments in regards to the status of his game are egotistical or delusional.
Lastly, we are presented with none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. describing how gamers should appreciate the authenticity of what racing simulators have achieved on a technical level, and the sim racing scene altogether. Revisiting the clips featured over the previous three minutes, these closing comments seem farcical in hindsight.
Is it an ugly three minutes, and will people proceed to call for my head? Absolutely.
But unlike past PRC articles, I didn’t even have to write anything to get my point across. It was already on YouTube for the world to see; I just compiled it.