Guitar Queer-o

16716053_1375071449232086_8758369761658143409_oWhile there was a bit of an uproar when it was revealed that DiRT Rally for the PlayStation 4 Virtual Reality headset would ship with additional content not seen in the vanilla package, those fears can officially be put to rest, though they now indicate that sim developers might not know how to craft a compelling and innovative experience for this technology. Introduced as a PSVR exclusive feature, DiRT Rally’s co-driver mode was kept heavily under wraps in the lead up to the title’s release, with many sim racers speculating about Codemasters creating some sort of online co-operative functionality just for this specific segment of the userbase – one which put you in the passenger seat and tasked you with reading out pacenotes to your buddy of choice as they flew through Sweden, Wales, or Monte Carlo – but the reality is unfortunately much different, and significantly more ridiculous than anyone could have envisioned.

Codemasters made a Guitar Hero mini-game for DiRT Rally.

Seriously.

thunderstruckInstead of pairing you with a friend riding shotgun – also sporting a VR headset from the comfort of his own home – tasked with reading out complex strands of stage notes at a lightning quick pace from the virtual passenger seat to ensure your success on any of the game’s twelve stages, DiRT Rally’s co-driver mode asks you to hand your little brother the Dualshock 4 so he can play a shitty knock-off version of Guitar Hero on the main monitor, where him successfully hitting each note translates to the correct visual directions being displayed on-screen.

There was a huge opportunity for Codemasters to go out and create a memorable diversion that could potentially show off the unique experience a VR headset can provide under the right conditions, and instead they’ve straight up missed it by a country mile. Inserting a simplified version of Guitar Hero into a game most of us have already played to exhaustion, and designing the mode in such a way where it only applies to bystanders who probably won’t want to sit and watch you play DiRT Rally to begin with, won’t get people to rush out and pick up a copy of DiRT Rally VR. We already know that racing games are an incredibly unique way to showcase what a virtual reality headset can do at its absolute best, but we’re at the point where developers need to innovate and take things to the next level.

This certainly isn’t it. In fact, it’s perpetuating the stereotype of VR-based titles being more of a fancy tech demo than anything else, with developers struggling to find out what to do with this technology beyond the initial application of first-person viewpoints.

Above, I’ve linked a twenty one minute compilation of Giant Bomb co-founder and former Gamespot persona Jeff Gerstmann struggling to understand how virtual reality will retain a long-term appeal, as he demonstrates numerous fully-priced PSVR titles that just aren’t very exciting pieces of software. While some of his experience is hampered by technological issues that make him visibly uncomfortable during his trial runs, Jeff notes that after you get over the initial “coolness” of physically existing inside a game world and being able to look around at your own discretion, the decline in texture resolution and lack of exciting quirks to make it more than just an extreme first person view isn’t enough to offset the obvious cons of the hardware.

To combat this, developers such as Codemasters need to push the envelope and offer genuinely interesting diversions to their software that really justifies the existence of a purpose-built VR title. A Guitar Hero spin-off isn’t that.

Codemasters, listen up. Let us walk around the car in the service park to inspect the damage, and make repairs by physically kneeling next to the vehicle and ripping the bumper off, or changing a few tires if it’s needed. Make the user nod their head up and down to indicate to the official to start the count-down clock for each stage. Create a co-op mode, where you can invite a buddy to your offline session, and his ass is thrown in the passenger seat, where he can look at his lap and read out pacenotes – which would actually be of use in DiRT 4, as the randomly generated stages will be impossible to memorize and actually require someone to get good at co-driving should this mode exist. And on closed-circuit off road races, make it so mud accumulates on the visor of the helmet, requiring the user to either shake their head, or wave their hand in front of the censor, for the virtual avatar to rip away a tear-off.

This is all shit I’m just pulling out of my ass on a boring Saturday evening, but I’m sure a large portion of the DiRT audience would appreciate these little elements to a Guitar Hero mode that will be used exactly once before promptly being ignored for the rest of the game’s lifespan. Otherwise, if this is the kind of “innovation” we can expect from the VR generation, don’t expected it to last very long.

 

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Wheeling It: The Theories Behind Exploiting Force Feedback

16472989_10208194146706819_3054346279305608142_nWith so much misinformation and rumors floating around on the forums regarding how you should set your force feedback and wheel rotation settings, I wanted take a bit of time today to clear up some misconceptions about modern force feedback wheels and what they’re trying to convey to the end user, as well as breakdown what top teams are doing with wheel settings in the iRacing world. It’s certainly not the kind of information that makes its way out into the general public, as configuring your equipment in a very specific way can produce a greatly tangible performance advantage out on the virtual track.

Now, I have to make our readers very clear, most of my various tips and insights will be predominantly be pulled from iRacing, because I’ve spent the most time on it, and it’s also the most competitive sim racing platform currently available. But hey, who doesn’t want a leg up on the competition? Immersion and realism doesn’t pad your iRating.

niswc-12-daytona-4Working with some of the biggest and best teams in iRacing for the past five years, I’ve heard all kinds of different wheel settings to try and combat the faults in the iRacing software or just to find an exploitative advantage. One thing I can say with one hundred percent confidence is that no one wheel setting will give you a massive advantage over the competition – everyone has their own style – however, some adjustments do help make it easier to find that extra speed, or save the car in a sim that is notoriously hard to save cars in without dealing with a massive tank slapper.

Let’s start with the most common and effective setting of the two that I’ve used personally, and what I know many of the top iRacers are using,  as they seem to fall into two camps. The first can be described as a very non-linear setting that seems to provide more feel, while making saving the car extremely easy but effectively having a larger ratio in the middle when you need to be smooth on the wheel.

This consists of running whatever wheel you have at anywhere from 200 to 540 degrees in your external profiler application, and then setting the in-game rotation at 1080 or more. What this does is give you a very smooth rotation through the center, and then ramps the steering ratio exponentially towards the edge of the wheel, so you are at full lock way faster then you should be based on your center ratio. To simplify, it allows you to run, say,  a ratio of 16:1 in the middle to really nail your steering inputs, but then when you’re forced to go hand over hand to save the car, the sensitivity is jacked skyward.

gen6-screenshot-3The other most common setting is just running 900 to 1080 degrees depending on wheel and running 1:1 with the sim. The debate then comes to running force feedback or not. At 900 degrees, a centering spring is a big no no, as there is way too much rotation to be fighting a centering spring all the way through the corner, especially if you are trying to counter steer at all. However Some of the fastest sim racers on the service, including my own driver Ryan Luza, run a completely dead wheel with zero feedback of any kind. The rest such as myself run a slightly non linear profiler setting such as 105-110% primarily to get rid of the massive deadzone, and give a slightly faster response time on Logitech wheels, with zero other effects and no damping.

iracing-phoenix-crashAll of this is a fine place to start, and many people out there run any combination of these settings, but of all the teams I’ve worked with, these were the most common and used by the best drivers on the service, yet a lot of it comes down to hardware as well.

Belt driven wheels such as the Thrustmaster T series wheels or the Fanatec stuff that has been hit or miss on reliability, have become the new norm for anyone wanting to run force feedback in the way it was intended, as it provides a much smoother and faster response to what you are seeing in front of you; whereas the non linear ramping settings, or non-FFB drivers tend to all be Logitech users. However, belt driven wheels aren’t worth the extra money if you aren’t going to use the force feedback they were designed to excel at, so don’t bother if you are a dead wheel kinda guy.

The other option is DD wheels such as the Accuforce or OSW, or perhaps a Heusinkveld option in the future. James here at PRC has been very outspoken against DD wheels, purely for price reasons, but the fact is they are the best wheels available for your sim racing “experience”, however, I can tell you right now that other then a few road pro drivers, none of the top iRacers are using them. The benefit just isn’t there at the moment for the price, the current belt driven wheels have more then enough bang for the current big market simulators, and it clearly isn’t a must have for speed if almost none of the top drivers in the highest competition sim aren’t using them. If you do have the expendable cash to afford the luxury then by all means go ahead, you are essentially future proofing your sim rig for when the direct drive wheels can be utilized better, or you can crank to wrist-breaking levels of FFB when you want to make a trip to the hospital for a day off work. I just personally wouldn’t recommend them at this point, as they aren’t necessary to be competitive, especially if you have a tight budget .

richmond2-1500The other consideration with wheels is both your simulator of choice, and the speed between that simulator and the wheel; almost all the major sims are using a different force feedback system from one another, and they all run on different physics engines at different frequencies. The speed your wheel receives information from the software is very important, as is the quality of the information. iRacing uses the slowest rate out of all the major sims that I know of, but yet every sim claims they are the best at the information they send to your wheel. So I’ll just focus on the speed to your hand and try to generalize the variables.

The most important element to care about is how fast your wheel reacts to what you’re seeing from your virtual car on screen if you are choosing to enable force feedback at all. This is why belt driven wheels have become so much more popular in sim racing because, they don’t necessarily make you a faster driver; they make it easier to be consistent and catch mistakes due the response speed of these modern belt driven wheels. You could have the strongest direct drive wheel in the world, but if the response time is slow none of it matters.Logitech G series wheels are notorious slow and haven’t improved the technology much at all since the Driving Force GT. This may be the reason many of us have gone to exploiting non-linear setups or simply turning off the force feedback completely – our wheels are just too out-dated. This is also why certain sims feel better with certain wheels, it all has to do with the frequency the sim puts out, and the quality of the information that is being sent. The fact that many people with older wheels in iRacing simply start clipping at very small amounts of force feedback that the Logitech wheels seemingly can’t handle in 2017 starts to muddy what information you do get, and why simply turning it off and driving visually seems to help a lot of people as it would with any sim that the wheel can’t handle.

Hopefully this will help many of you in trying to dial in your wheel settings so you can get the proper sim experience you are looking for, and maybe even gain time for a lot of you; I know among the top iRacing divisions a bunch of people keep wheel setting close to their chests, but if you look hard enough the information is indeed out there, and keep in my mind that no magic setting will help you, but that consistency is key. Don’t change something just for the sake of changing it unless you plan on spending the time to stick with it and get used to it before you see any results.

 

Honest Reviews are No Longer Tolerated

With each passing day, members of the sim racing community continuously manage to upstage themselves when it comes to sheer, unrestricted stupidity – and even by PRC standards, this one is exceptionally spectacular. On this day in sim racing, we’ve reached an especially disastrous milestone – one in which sim racers are now openly attacking YouTube personalities for uploading honest reviews of expensive hardware. It’s no longer enough for companies to persuade individuals with a popular YouTube channel into publishing dishonest reviews of their products in exchange for undisclosed perks; we’ve now swung in the complete opposite direction and created a scenario where everyday sim racers are openly stating they do not appreciate honest reviews of a product they want to learn about, and potentially purchase.

Back in September of 2016, Will Marsh – fronting the independent hobbyist website SimRacingPaddock – uploaded an eighteen minute review of Fanatec’s CSL Elite Wheel Base, as well as their P1 Rim. Though the hardware was supplied by Fanatec themselves as a complimentary review copy, Marsh refused to take the safe approach when it comes to establishing a long-term relationship with any sim racing hardware company, and gave a very fair and thorough assessment of each product. While he had mostly positive things to say about the CSL Elite Wheel Base, the P1 rim suffered immense criticism for being cheaply made; constructed primarily via plastic parts that Will believed would struggle to withstand any sort of long-term duress that sim racing endurance events are known for.

I’m not in the market for a new toy steering wheel at the moment, but by the end of the video I came away feeling pretty informed about the hit-or-miss quality some of my buddies have told me about Fanatec in private, and I appreciated that despite Will essentially being gifted a brand new toy steering wheel to review on his show, he had no problem jeopardizing his relationship with Fanatec to talk about their product in an honest fashion, letting sim racers know exactly what was wrong with it in great detail. In fact, by the end of the video, Will can be seen examining the P1 Rim with several close up shots to accurately convey just how much of the wheel is plastic hidden by metal trim – something that a lot of sim racers would by and large want to be made aware of before purchasing the product.

Not everyone shared this same sentiment, however.

commentWhether it be an elaborate piece of satire, or an online meltdown fueled by a spectrum disorder and an unhealthy obsession with Fanatec products, a user by the name of TooStrongkGamers armed himself with a virtual pitchfork and immediately went to town on SimRacingPaddock, claiming Will’s extensive eighteen minute review on a couple of pieces of Fanatec gear wasn’t a review at all, but instead “ripping on it hard as fuck.” TSG promptly shifts into overdrive before Will even has a chance to respond, leaving several more comments telling Will to kill himself, that the wheel will hold up perfectly fine as long as he doesn’t masturbate with it, and Will shouldn’t be complaining about the price of Fanatec products considering he’s too poor to afford them anyway.

I sat down and watched the entirety of Will’s review just to be sure I didn’t miss anything that would have sent this user into a rage, and I’m still unsure of what set him off. Will’s only complaint about the Fanatec CSL Elite Base was that it constantly booted up in Xbox One mode by default and he was always forced to change it, whereas his issues with the P1 rim centered primarily around a poor build quality that doesn’t justify the asking price – a factor that didn’t even affect him personally (as the hardware was sent to him by Fanatec), but he was gracious enough to include that aspect for other sim racers who do have to pay for it.

To his credit, Will tried his best to reply in a somewhat professional manner, but TSG wasn’t having any of it.

untitled-2Yes, it’s just one guy being a fucking sperg, but for a lot of upstart sim racing content creators who are just getting off the ground with whatever they’re making, this is exactly the kind of behavior that will turn them away from the community for good. If you can’t even publish a genuinely honest review on your indie YouTube channel without some guy losing his shit at you in the comments section for some perceived wrongdoing thanks to his own mental gymnastics, what incentive would anyone have to keep giving back to the scene? Unless you already have some sort of tangible following, why would you willingly contribute to a community this hostile? Here you have a random sim racer utterly convinced that an honest eighteen minute review of a product where both the positives and negatives are addressed is somehow “just ripping on it” before telling the creator of the review to kill himself, and this is only a day after we told you about an Assetto Corsa forum member trying to say you somehow have no right to ask for the ability to select the car of your choice in an online session.

It’s as if the whole climate of viral marketing has conditioned the simpletons among us to now outright reject any content that isn’t blatant advertising, which is a scary thought when you consider how the sim racing community might look twenty four months into the future if these people aren’t promptly put in their place. Unless you have especially thick skin to deal with the head cases that will ruthlessly attack you for an honest review, YouTube review shows and individual personalities will gradually morph into sim racers trying to remain as politically correct as possible at any given time to avoid upsetting people who shouldn’t be anywhere near social media in the first place.

And that’s pretty shitty, because in a genre with so much hardware and software flying around for consumers to purchase, we need more people to tell it like it is in the face of Fanatec and Vesaro showering personalities with review gear, not less. These people aren’t going to stick around for long if they’re met with such immense hostility.

An Exclusive Mode You Shouldn’t Care About

dirt_rally_psvr_announce_screen_6It’s certainly been a while since we’ve talked about DiRT Rally here at PRC.net, but it’s for a good reason. Despite winning our inaugural game of the year award back in 2015 – which admittedly doesn’t mean much to the outside world – the hardcore Codemasters rally simulator certainly hasn’t aged well, offering a limited selection of stages and an underlying hand of God stability assist which has certainly sterilized the raw driving experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic off-road point-to-point racer if you can pick it up at a reduced price, but many of us have simply moved on from DiRT Rally because we’ve seen all there is to do within the title Codemasters surprised us with during the spring of 2015.

To capitalize on the Virtual Reality craze that has rocked the gaming world as of late, the PlayStation 4 rendition of DiRT Rally will soon be graced with a hefty update that adds compatibility for Sony’s own PSVR headset. Yes, PlayStation 4 owners will unfortunately be forced to pay extra for the additional in-game functionality, but the key thing is there’s now a practical use for the PSVR headset on Sony’s flagship console. Being able to physically look through difficult corner combinations and focus on specific apexes while flying through Swedish back roads at triple the posted speed limit is a welcome addition to the PlayStation 4, compared to the relatively underwhelming inclusion of Virtual Reality in Evolution’s DriveClub. In fact, DriveClub’s VR spinoff actually made people sick.

But not everyone’s happy with the recent DiRT Rally VR announcement, as Codemasters have promised owners of the Virtual Reality-enabled version exclusive content that’s not available in the vanilla game. DiRT Rally VR will ship with an additional Co-Driver mode, where you’re placed in the passenger seat and tasked with reading out pace notes – presumably for a friend online to act as a sort of quasi co-op mode. Responding to an inquiry from Twitter user Captain Slow, Codemasters have confirmed this additional game mode will be exclusive to the PSVR release of DiRT Rally, and will not be implemented in any other version of the game.

Some are a bit choked about the DiRT Rally experience not remaining uniform across all three renditions of the game, but I’m here to say this isn’t the time to give Codemasters hell. Yes, I’m aware I’ve shit on Kunos Simulazioni for creating a vastly different version of Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles compared to what’s available for PC sim racers to purchase via Steam, but an additional co-driver mode for DiRT Rally on the PlayStation 4 is completely useless no matter how you spin it.

5rxjiv0Though the back of the box claims DiRT Rally features over 70 stages across six different countries, the number in reality is just twelve. Each country features two main routes that take approximately seven minutes for a proficient sim racer to complete, and the stage count is inflated by chopping these primary routes into halves, then quarters, and doubling that number by running each route in reverse. In theory, the entire game can be seen in just under an hour of driving. This became a legitimate problem during the game’s Early Access phase on Steam, as routine monthly updates featuring new sets of cars, or the introduction of a single country, could be played to exhaustion by the end of the evening – only for the game to be shelved for weeks at a time.

DiRT Rally was originally released for the PlayStation 4 in April of 2016, meaning the vast majority of people who possess even a remote interest in rally racing have already seen everything DiRT Rally has to offer – and then some. Even if their driving skills aren’t at the point where they can recite every corner of Sweet Lamb over a bowl of Cheerios at five in the morning, the majority of DiRT Rally owners could probably outright mute the co-driver and still post respectable stage times on some of the higher difficulties. With so few stages in the simulator to begin with, and DiRT Rally’s campaign mode artificially lengthening each rally on higher difficulties by running the exact same stage numerous times, it’s genuinely hard to imagine a scenario where the Co-Driver DLC would even warrant a shakedown run.

Unless you’ve literally just gotten into sim racing this year, or have ignored DiRT Rally for whatever God forsaken reason – which most haven’t – Co-Driver mode is one hundred percent pointless. I’m all for feature parity between multi-platform titles, and it’s great to see users taking the initiative and pushing for parity, but in this specific situation you really aren’t missing out on anything noteworthy. There are only twelve tracks in the game, you’ve probably learned them all by now, and so have your friends.

ps-vr-polo-greece

A Strong, Independent Viral Marketer

introYou knew this one was coming.

I think a whole bunch of our critics here at PRC.net have been eagerly anticipating an article on this subject – or personality, rather – because they just know I’m undoubtedly going to unleash my far-right rhetoric in a profoundly embarrassing manner, establishing myself as little more than basement-dwelling man-child who’s just mad he hasn’t scored a date in a while. And while I fully acknowledge there will be some people who deem this post the final straw  in a long list of questionable articles, and vow to never visit PRC again, I can assure you there’s a legitimate point I’m trying to make here – and it’s not my fault if your inner white knight prevents you from seeing things how they really are.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way; I don’t hold female gamers in particularly high regard. While I’ve had the honor of battling the one and only Monica Clara Brand in many iRacing IndyCar events back when she was still an active user on the service, and looking back on that period of time can say with absolute certainty she’s one of the most enjoyable sim racers I’ve ever driven against, unfortunately her formidable talent and friendly demeanor was an exception to the gamer girl stereotype, not the norm. Between Twitch streamers who blatantly abuse the site’s Terms of Service – whipping their tits out and broadcasting fake dinner dates rather than playing video games – all the way to iRacing team owners having a kid with one of their drivers, and the former host of sim racing’s most popular YouTube show appearing on a Sugar Daddy website, it’s hard for me to not feel as if women are incapable of chilling out and being “one of the guys” in a male-dominated hobby. There’s almost always some sort of intrusive, unnecessary storyline that comes along with them, and it’s very frustrating to deal with if you just want to hang out and play some video games with your buddies.

I’d always like to be proven wrong, as a down-to-earth female presence within the community prevents us from venturing too far off the beaten path and opening up about their secret obsession with Paul Menard erotica, but unfortunately we’ve got another personality to add to the list of women who enter the world of sim racing with an ulterior motive.

02-virtual-rVirtualR.net describes SimRacingGirl as a “promising new sim racing YouTuber” who aims to be an alternative of sorts to personalities such as Shaun Cole and Matt Orr – veteran virtual drivers whom on top of registering a hell of a lot of time within their simulator of choice, also manage popular YouTube channels that focus on both hardware reviews, as well as in-game commentary. As a presenter and a budding personality, she’s honestly not bad. The soft-spoken Dutch hobbyist known simply as Sinem to her friends takes a very traditional approach to her presentations, combining the delivery and tone of an ESL morning news anchor, with outfits that do not detract attention away from the subject at hand in any manner whatsoever – unlike a personality many will undoubtedly draw comparisons to. There will certainly be no yellow dress episodes, online dating discoveries, or secret pregnancies here; just a woman who appears to be as passionate about the hobby as everyone else within the community. And I can’t really knock that.

Of course, the socially stunted among us sim racers are still fawning over her as if they’ve yet to discover the magic of PornHub, but at this point it’s merely an additional supplement of free entertainment that only the strange world of sim racing can provide. I have learned to sit back and laugh at these pathetic comments, knowing they are the precise answers people are looking for when some question why the genre isn’t growing as it should.

03-beta-commentsBut behind the embarrassing comments left by lonely sim racers on her YouTube videos, and reviews of Fanatec hardware that were otherwise uninteresting to me – but seemed to be highly appreciated by a whole bunch of sim racers – I started to become a bit perplexed by what was occurring in front of me. Look, a few months ago, I caught wind of some Instagram account named SimRacingGirl, and joked to the other guys on TeamSpeak that we should get someone like Sev to start a similar account called SimRacingBoy, where he poses with shitty PS3 racing games in UGG boots, aviators, and a leather jacket. Yet with virtually nobody knowing who in the fuck Senim Temur was, it seemed like overnight, she landed on the front page of VirtualR.

Now let me explain why I was caught off guard. This community is small enough as a whole, where if someone starts their own website, or they start writing for a website, or whatever – Will Marsh of SimRacingPaddock, for example – most people know their background, their history, and just generally who they are in the world of sim racing. When Will started SimRacingPaddock, I knew him as a guy who was a long-time iRacer that also did some background work for Inside Sim Racing, and he was one of the many people whom Darin got pissy at and told off. And it’s the same with myself – a lot of you came to PRC because you thought it would be hilarious to read a bunch of elaborate ramblings from the guy who was banned from iRacing. Maybe you liked some of my reviews at RaceDepartment, others may have raced me in private leagues… The point I’m trying to make, is that it’s very rare to start up an operation as a complete nobody, and suddenly receive coverage from major sim racing outlets.

Even rarer, is to just sort of show up in the community completely unannounced, and land endorsement after endorsement from major players in the industry, to the point where your living room is basically full of stuff that most of us have to be on a private mailing list to receive. Bored out of my mind at work, I scrolled through SimRacingGirl’s Facebook fan page, and for a span of about two months, it’s nothing but “look what came in the mail today.”  Brands such as Fanatec, Thrustmaster, and Vesaro all basically shower her with elaborate sim gear the majority of those as new to the genre as her couldn’t possibly afford or even contemplate purchasing, and most established personalities could only dream of receiving for free. It would be completely understandable if she had an audience in the tens or even hundreds of thousands – as Inside Sim Racing managed to achieve during their prime – but we’re looking at someone who was lucky if she got ten likes on an Instagram picture, or more than five comments on a YouTube video. This supposedly warranted many hardware manufacturers literally throwing brand new sim gear at her.

People this new to the scene, with virtually no following and (at the time) four YouTube videos, simply do not receive shipment upon shipment of expensive Fanatec and Vesaro gear. The process of merely acquiring a review copy for an upcoming game is a pain in the ass, and that’s not just from a PRC standpoint, that’s from people who actually run respected outlets who don’t shit on games for making Jimmie Johnson’s car the wrong shade of blue. Personalities this new and relatively unheard of also do not receive lucrative sponsorship opportunities despite an objectively minuscule audience. Call me jealous all you want, this is nothing short of suspicious, and y’all know it.

I think it would be understandable if the name Senim Temur was synonymous with three-time iRacing champion, and she was overcoming her social anxiety by branching out to YouTube videos, but neither myself nor the guys tasked with lurking the various sim racing forums know who the hell she is, and more important why several hardware companies are burying this random girl in top of the line sim gear.

04-spoiledNow I could stop there and let you all take in the sheer absurdity of what you see above – sim gear manufacturers delivering a constant stream of pricey hardware to the apartment of a random YouTuber nobody’s ever heard of – but I can actually take things a step further.

Combing through the several YouTube comments just to see how SimRacingGirl is perceived by the community she’s suddenly found herself at the center of, a few odd users suggest for her to enter the world of PC sim racing, as in her earlier videos she’s strictly a PlayStation 4 owner, with titles such as Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, and F1 2016 powering her hobby. Despite virtually no audience, no ad revenue coming in through her YouTube videos (it’s one dollar per thousand views), and barely any real following to speak of whatsoever aside from numerous high profile endorsements from reputable hardware brands, she suddenly acquires a top-of-the-line gaming PC to boot. Again, nobody really knows who this girl is, and at the time her YouTube channel hadn’t exactly taken off by any means, but she’s able to land several major sponsorship deals in a row, and swims in expensive sim gear that’s quite frankly beyond comprehension for someone this new to the hobby.

05-we-pc-gamer-nowAll of this is of course a total coincidence; acquiring sponsorship upon sponsorship for your quirky, unknown sim racing YouTube channel is perfectly normal in this hobby, and everyone from Joe Nathan and Will Marsh to Empty Box and GTSpeedster have entire spare bedrooms full of unused, pristine sim gear that retails for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. This is just par for the course in sim racing, it’s the reason everyone starts a YouTube channel with videos of their shitty third split iRacing races, and not suspicious in the slightest.

Or it’s a very elaborate viral marketing scheme, and someone did a relatively poor job of covering their tracks.

vsYou don’t need to be any sort of part-time detective to figure out where this is heading. Upon heading to the official Vesaro YouTube page – a company who specializes in constructing unique high quality consumer or commercial simulation rigs, as defined by the customer – you can see SimRacingGirl sporting a Vesaro shirt and acting as a booth professional for the company; the sim racing equivalent of the models you see at car shows paid to supervise the product and regurgitate facts you can probably read yourself from the specifications sheet. In the video, they try and make her out to be this up-and-coming YouTube personality, but let’s be real here – if 500 views on a video of you playing Assetto Corsa qualifies you as a YouTube personality, I’m motherfucking Anderson Cooper. This girl is employed by Vesaro.

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Vesaro is a sim racing brand which allows you to visit their website and build your own cockpit from a list of preset designs and pieces of hardware – such as wheels and pedals – before bundling everything together and shipping it to you in one package. Their prices are astronomical, and they have no explicit ties to one company or another, so you can just as easily request them to ship you a Logitech wheel with your Vesaro rig, as you can with a wheel from Fanatec. They are, effectively, a middle man of sorts, tremendously jacking up the cost of building a sim rig by several hundred euros. Their pricier designs are simply insane, with an advanced level option coming in at over five thousand euros.

06-reviewTheir newest venture, based on my assumptions from the information I’ve been able to display above, is to take some sim racer’s girlfriend or wife, shower the couple with boxes upon boxes of pricey sim hardware, place her in front of a video camera, instruct her to record positive reviews of products from companies Vesaro is partnered with while basically regurgitating the product specifications, and pass off this blatant exercise in viral marketing by pretending she’s some sort of sim racing YouTube personality – using the whole minority figure in sim racing angle to keep the masses reluctant to ask questions due to the pretty face on screen. Capping off the long list of hilarious potential FTC violations is the fact that her newest review is of a product that has been on store shelves for four goddam yearsthe Fanatec Formula Wheel rim – which demonstrates that she probably isn’t even aware herself that this wheel has already been evaluated many times over. Combined with the sudden abundance of top tier sim racing equipment appearing in her pad, VirtualR’s insistence on promoting her content despite practically no tangible following, and the complete lack of anybody within the scene knowing who in the hell this girl is to begin with, it’s fairly safe to assume Vesaro have been caught in the act.

Now, as much as I’d like to thank the guys at Vesaro for luring the beta sim racers among us out of hiding, and giving them the perfect platform to post a whole shitload of embarrassing comments that demonstrate their complete lack of skills with the ladies, I’m more disappointed in Senim than anyone else.

In a form of entertainment that has already struggled with several prolific women attempting to exploit the scene for their own personal gains rather than “hang with the guys”, and in an extremely niche genre where genuine critical feedback is commonly tainted by sponsorship dollars, it’s extremely dishonest to show up posing as a hardcore member of the community who appears to be acting in the best interests of sim racers, only for it to come out that you’ve been bought and paid for since day one. For a genre that already has a difficult time accepting women due to minority iRacing team owners getting knocked up by their drivers, or hosts of YouTube review shows moonlighting as sugar babies, all this does is legitimize the concerns of people like myself that a lot of female gamers aren’t here to just chill out and play video games.

There is nothing wrong with showing up with a modest rig, and making a few YouTube videos proclaiming your love for what’s otherwise a male-dominated hobby. That’s fine. What’s clearly over the line, however, is partnering with a company mere days after creating your social media accounts clearly intended to capitalize on little more than girl power, and proceeding to upload positive reviews of products from companies your sponsor is partnered with, under the guise of being some quirky new YouTube personality who just happened to discover sim racing, all while your Facebook page is loaded with pictures of you showing off the thousands of dollars in gear that was handed to you. That’s dishonest as fuck.

But there’s a silver lining to all of this, and I think it’s really important to mention it as the article comes to a close: the average sim racer is tired of this shit.

pp