How Realistic Should Sim Racing Get?


One thing that sets sim racing apart from other video games is the level of immersion you can have simulating racing. We have seen a major improvements in realism, simulating all the different aspects of racing, including tire deformation, tire rubber being laid down, and even subtle nuances in aerodynamics.

I was thinking about all the advances in sim racing in this new generation of racing titles, and it got me thinking. How realistic is “too realistic”? Is there a point that could make sim racing less enjoyable, and more frustrating? Are there elements of real life racing that should not be transferred into the virtual world?

sim racing indy crash

One of the primary aspects that I feel would be difficult to accurately recreate is damage repair. Most simulators have an “accelerated” repair rate, due to the nature of sim racing having shorter races. However, I think that there should be a “damage repair rate” slider, that could adjust it to correspond with shorter or longer races.

Another element that would be somewhat counterproductive for sim racing is authentic setup adjusting. One thing that we take for granted is that we can make immediate adjustments to our car. In real life, that isn’t the case. Adjustments could take valuable time away from driving in practice sessions, which would prompt more strategic and less drastic adjustments.

Now, these two ideas have been attempted before, namely in netKar Pro‘s “Hardcore Mode”, which gave realistic time to repair or tweak cars. The issue was that the sim didn’t really have much in the terms of actual racing (no AI, limited Multiplayer), so the concept was never truly tested. I would like to see how it would pan out in an endurance race in iRacing or rFactor 2, giving it a true test.

There are many other aspects of sim racing that could be brought up to a more realistic level, but I feel those wouldn’t be a major improvement or detriment to the racing as a whole. We are at this rare point where I feel we are at a high level of authenticity for sim racing, and nearly at a level where we can simulate it at a 1:1 level on the software side.

I don’t think these two elements I mentioned would be a major issue, IF it is implemented well. I don’t think those elements could be in a “one-size-fits-all” mantra, due to the fact that races could either be short or long. Repairs and garage adjustments should be dependent on race/session length. If I’m in a longer race, I would want an option to have extended repairs in the garage, to replace parts instead of just “banging” the parts into a semi-repaired state.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there is something that would make sim racing “too real”? Let us know in the comments!