Why sims are just games to me (and that’s okay)

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it for fun? For glory? We spend thousands of dollars on equipment and yet we all reach the same point. The moment when a twelve-year-old with a desk-mounted G29 smashes into you on lap one, turn one. You suddenly start seeing red, let out your frustration on a kid who hasn’t hit puberty, leave the server, and stew in your grief for the rest of the night.

The next day, you’re still angry. The kid lives rent-free in your head as he does at his parent's house. Somehow you managed to save the replay and decide to protest. Your inner Johnny Cochran unleashes in the description text box. Words like “injustice” and “negligence” are thrown in as you weave a masterclass case on why the kid should be banished. You hit send and receive a reply later that day. It states that the crash was just a “racing incident” and “no foul play was found.” You’re irate. For the fifteenth time in your life, you swear that you’ll never play this sim again and start racing elsewhere. Two days later, like a Stockholm case, you return. Like always.

So, what was the issue here? Surely it wasn’t you. You’re subscribed to a setup shop and practiced for hours, tweaking your setup, and sharpening your marks for a twenty-minute sprint race. Maybe it was that snot-nosed, braille-faced brat that was running on his mother’s credit card! While it is very tempting to throw all the blame on them, they’re just a kid. Maybe they’re just starting out and the tirade you gave him the night before probably scared him away from the service. You’re now a monster and feel horrible about the way you acted. 

While this example is overdramatized, it’s not off from what I personally went through. While I would prepare for a nine o’clock split like it was the season finale at Abu Dhabi, I didn’t have the right mental approach. The driving standard can vary massively in online racing; no two splits are the same. Why am I going to let my mental health be susceptible to it? Some of the wackiest things happen on sims every day; where it becomes indistinguishable to a ga... oh no, the forbidden word.

Perspective can be a dangerous weapon when wielded by the right people. In the grand scheme of things, we play pretend race cars with millions of other people just looking to have a good time. Some of us are good, most of us are bad, and the select few at the top are cracked and/or unemployed. I’ve raced in leagues on Gran Turismo & Forza and experienced about the same high level of racing as I have on iRacing & ACC. In that same vein, I have experienced the same level of ridiculousness on both sides of the spectrum. I still turn on my PC like a console, use the same wheel, and navigate through menus like a game and there is no difference in how disappointing humanity is on-track for both PC & console. 

So yes, sims are like games to me. It’s okay to enjoy the fact you have a setup at home and can race. Don’t worry about losing your safety rating or driver ranking points. Why let those arbitrary numbers define you? It’s okay to lose some iRating from time to time. While having good numbers may look good, sometimes a good seal clubbing in a lower split can stroke the ego and boost confidence. Understanding that there are two or more sides to a story is always good when addressing incidents. No one is perfect and we’ve all had our moment when we screwed someone’s race. While this perspective might not work for everyone, if sharing my experience can help someone enjoy this hobby more, then I would have done my job. 

All car designs are made by my good friend Justin Teel at Color Teal Graphics.