Why I Love Sim Racing

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Originally published 12/15/2013 on my old blog:

Whenever I discuss Sim Racing with my friends, they usually ask me the same question: “Why do you plunk down so much money towards Sim Racing?” (I have invested about $2,500 over the past 7 years), and that question does get me thinking.

Why do I enjoy the racing so much, that I invest the amounts I do into it, and plan on investing more? What is it that drives me (no pun intended) to try to maximize the experience out of it? Why do I sim race?

I will attempt to answer these questions in this post, but it’s pretty tough to put it into words some of the reasons I enjoy Sim Racing so much, it basically comes down to trying it for yourself. I hope you enjoy this post!

Part One: Cost
One of the first reasons I enjoy Sim Racing is, despite being able to dump loads of cash into it, you can also get into it for a fairly reasonable price. One of the prime entry-level wheels, the Logitech Driving Force GT, can be had for as little as $100 at times. My first wheel, the Logitech NASCAR, was $50! However, once you start moving up in quality, it really can add up.

However, even when you invest in an all out setup (some have invested upwards of $30,000), it is still less expensive than running a real life car in a season, and real life is only limited to one car, but I’ll get to that in the next part.

Part Two: Variety
The beauty of Sim Racing is that you can race virtually almost any kind of car you can think of, be it a Fiat 500, or a Ferrari 458 Italia, or even a Monster Truck! There are also multitudes of different simulators, each with their own different variety of simulated series. You can attempt to be the reincarnation of Richard Burns in a rally simulator, Run wheel to wheel with Sebastian Vettel in Formula One, and wreck Kyle Busch (and make many people very happy) all in the same day!

Part Three: Difficulty
A lot of people dismiss racing’s difficulty due to the fact that “everyone over 16 drives a car” or some reason like that. Well most humans walk, but does that mean they are all capable of running the Boston Marathon?

I have had friends test out my Sim Racing setup, and they entered with expectations that it would be simple, but come out of it haven’t even been able to turn a lap, and with a whole new respect for racing. Racing requires a whole different focus and mindset than driving a car from point A to B, and that is something that takes seat time to improve.

GRAB_003

However, even when you are comfortable in a racing environment, you will always be on a ragged edge, one that will cut if you go too far, and will punish you, but will also push you to your limits, and to become a better driver.

In many arcade racing games, the driving physics are simplified, and they add tasks on top of driving, like doing insane jumps, smashing boxes, escaping police, etc. In racing simulators, you get a sense of accomplishment by just finishing a race, and when you nail a set of corners, you will have a grin on your face.

Iowa Wreck

Part Four: Competition
For the same reasons millions of people are hooked on First Person Shooters, competition runs rampant in racing games. When you boil it down to bare essentials, the goal of racing is to beat the guy next to you, and if there’s nobody in front of you, keep it that way!

You can definitely race against AI opponents, but in my opinion, nothing beats the idea of racing door to door with a fellow human, in a high speed chess match, trying to place your car in the right position to get that extra MPH out of your car to inch ahead of your opponent.

For racing simulators, racing door to door against a fellow driver can provide a huge adrenaline rush. iRacing has one of the best multiplayer systems (think of it as the Call of Duty of racing simulators), and there have been plenty of races that have had me shaking due to the rush I got from racing hard for 20+ minutes!

You can also find a league to race in, and compete in championships for cash and prizes if that is something you would be interested in.

Part Five: Immersion
One of the reasons I feel Sim Racing trumps other forms of video games is that you are able to immerse yourself inside your environment unlike any other game.

You can play Madden, but you don’t throw the football, you play Call of Duty but you aren’t pointing a gun, you play NHL, but you aren’t dodging a hip check or setting up a slap shot. In Sim Racing, however, you can actually operate a steering wheel, pedals, and shifter, like in a real car. You are able to reach a level of immersion that is all but unheard of in other games, which is something I really enjoy.

All of these are good reasons as to why I enjoy Sim Racing, but I feel like it’s trying to describe how it would feel to drive a Ferrari, but the best way to find out how Sim Racing is so enjoyable is to try it for yourself.

I would also love to hear why you guys enjoy Sim Racing in the comments down below! 😀

I hope you enjoyed this article, and Happy Racing!

  • Matthew Arnold

    I think sim racing offers a level off immersion other games cannot come close to. For the reasons you said. You have a wheel and pedals. In a car your sitting in a seat, just like at home in your sim rig. It all adds up to feel like your driving a real car. Add to that an Oculus Rift and its intense 🙂

    How can other genres come close? How can you feel truly immersed in a shooter, when your sat in a chair playing a guy running around shooting a gun your controlling with a mouse lol. Just doesn’t really compare imho 🙂

    • William David Marsh

      There was a guy that was developing a vest you would wear while playing FPS games, and it would simulate a gunshot, so it would be like FPS’ version of SimVibe. I’m not really fond of getting shot though. 😉

      But yeah, I have to agree with you. The immersion factor is second to none, and the greatest part is that you can tailor it to fit your needs. Right now, I’m using a wood rig I built for $150, and just one screen, and I truly enjoy it. I bet if I improved the setup, I could be immersed, but I don’t think I would have just as much fun with what I have now.