Outstanding editorial, friend.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to take my car to Summit Point Raceway, which I'd turned many virtual laps of in iRacing with a Logitech Driving Force GT.
For those unfamiliar with Summit Point:
After driving primarily a Miata and a Corvette C6-R on iRacing I was going to be driving a Boxster S, which is basically the same thing.
So listen up thumb jockeys, here's how driving a real track compares to its video game equivalent:
--The track was very similar, but it wasn't quite the way I pictured it from playing the game. Elevation changes seemed different, especially. It's great having your subonscious shouting "There's a sharp left up here!!" but the reality is going to still be a surprise.
-Playing the game got me acquainted with the easiest and most spectacular ways to wreck. A few times, in the game, I lifted off/braked coming out of turn 4 without getting the car completely straightened up, which inevitably caused a spin and caused my car to flip. Out of curiosity, I looked on YouTube and found someone who crashed in the same way:
--Being in a real car is a whole different experirence. Nobody's worried about the condition of their stock brakes/fluid in a video game. Nobody has the pungent smell of brake components/road grime being burnt at all four corners of the car engulfing your helmet. There's subtle things like that. Then there's the big thing...
Put up ten displays, a movie theater sound system, a steering wheel with a thousand buttons and a ten speed H-pattern shifter then throw it on a hydraulic platform that moves around like a Decepticon...it doesn't matter.
You just can't simulate grip and balance. These are ultimately what sculpt lines around corners; feeling what you can do with the car to make it go fast. Video games just can't give you that.
iRacing is a great tool for learning, though. Knowing what turn is coming up next, knowing what mistakes will lead to repair bills and having a reasonable idea of the racing line all allows the driver to focus more on improving driving skills instead of memorizing the circuit. The prior knowledge definitely helps a driver squeeze the most out of the limited amount of track time given at an HPDE. But it just doesn't compare.
So forget $300 wheels and $400 gaming seats and spending hours and hours racing people in your living room to improve driving skills. Save the money for some nice brakes and tires and go do the real thing once you've done enough virtual laps to memorize the track. The game seems frivolous afterwards
Last edited by Murderface; 12-20-2011 at 01:51 AM.
I am not a gamer. 99% of FPS games give me vertigo/motion sickness or something after a few minutes of play. Simulation games I can play a little longer. But in the end, I feel like I've been wasting my time when I could be out DOING something instead.
The OP's realization that automotive simulation games cannot create the FEEL of being in a car while driving on a track has been my biggest complaint about them. It has also been my excuse for being terrible at them (but that is probably a cop out ).
Simulations such as Gran Turismo and Forza gives people the chance to "drive" at racetracks all around the world. Not everybody can fly to Germany to put in some practice laps at the 'Ring. But there is no substitute for actually driving on a racetrack. The concentration required, the plethora of stimuli (sights, sounds, smells), and the sensation of speed cannot be duplicated with a controller and a TV screen.
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The real test is to go back and run the simulation again, but this time take each corner like you did on the real track.
I've driven Summit Main more than any other track, I'd love to see how well the sim measures up to my memory.
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I don't practice llanteria
I completely agree with the OP. I am an avid iRacer, and when I graduated college I was fortunate enough to be given the skip barber one day racing school at Lime Rock. I was able to drive the MX-5 and the formula barber on Lime Rock, as I had a million times in iRacing,
The memorization of the track is by far the most helpful thing about iRacing, Another iRacer and I were way ahead of the rest of the class just because of that. The cars essentially drive the same as in the game, but, as mentioned, there's just things that can't be recreated by a computer chair and laptop.
Either way, I love iRacing, and I am striving to save enough to get a better/more realistic setup.
I just don't think they're very useful for anything more than learning the track and basics, though the entire sim industry tries to lead you to believe otherwise.
For those who haven't seen it, there's this guy too:
Last winter I did a full season of GP Legends racing online with a group of 25 or so other sim-racers from around the world. That was really the first time I had done so much sim racng, but I had been doing HPDEs for about 10 years. It was funny, getting out on the real track (at Summit Point) last spring, my first impression off the bat was how tame everyone was driving. I could no longer pull up alongside the guy in front of me, stuff my fender on the inside of the turn and roar off into the distance. Instead, I had to wait patiently until he got around to giving me a point by on the next straight (or whenever he got around to it).
Of course, there's no g-forces sitting in your living room, but I'm getting a heck of a lot of entertainment from my online racing these days. Years ago, I used to think that eventually when my kids got a little older so that I had more free time, and had more spare cash that I'd go to four or five track events each year. At this point, I don't see that happening. I like the comradery in the paddock of HPDEs and standing around talking cars, and it's nice to get out on a real racetrack, but I think that one or two events a year will be my max, even when I have my Cayman and my kids have moved out of the house. Sim racing gives me plenty of racing action, and I love the fact that my health and wallet are never impacted when I crash.
I own a G27 and a racing seat/pedal setup. Never once have I thought it was an exact replica of the real thing, not sure why anyone would?
However it is great for memorizing lines, corners, braking points and rhythm. It is also great for reflexes and eye hand co-ordination. I don't see how it could possibly be seen as a negative thing?
You aren't equal to a skilled real life race car driver because you have a top 20 lap time worldwide in a racing game. However the more memorization and exposure you have before taking on the real deal the better.
A lot of actual pro drivers actually say the same thing--it's hard for them to pick-up video game racing because they can't "feel" what the car is doing. Along the same lines, there is not doubt about the value of iRacing in showing a driver the layout of a racetrack.
On the flip side of the coin is this chap, Lucas Ordonez. Started his racing career by qualifying through Gran Turismo Academy. Finished second overall @ LeMans just three years later. That's talent. http://techland.time.com/2011/06/14/...-mans-24-hour/
The nice thing about iRacing is you can enjoy some real competition for a very small initial investment.
Would I rather lay out the cash to go racing in a real Skip Barber Dodge? Absolutely. But it's a lot cheaper and far more convenient to boot up the gaming PC and have some fun.
It's obviously not a good replacement for real seat time. But it is good preparation for when you actually get out on a track. Knowing the layout before you put rubber to the surface for the first time is very nice.
I'm not saying that I wouldn't prefer to be on a race track instead in whatever car happened to be available..... but even running your daily driver gets expensive.
Simply put, I'll never choose iRacing over an actual track day, but iRacing is nice to have for when you can't get to a track.
I think there is a lot going for the racing games, especially with visualizing and learning the shape of the turns and such. But I can never drive them like I can drive my car. The physical feedback is so valuable, and the sound is much more focused.
I agree with the OP - go drive your car, people.
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the F1 teams spend a huge amount of money on their simulators (and normally they don't show these to the public, they have some cheaper more simple models for demonstrations) to get as accurate as possible, they are essential for the drivers preparation and testing of car setups and updates simulations... since they have very little time to test with the real car,
Iracing is obviously at lot less advanced but it does a good job with the tracks and car I think
What's surprised me is why people around here don't mention karting more often. That's by far the cheapest way to get into 'real' racing; high G forces, triple digit speeds, competitive fields at all experience levels, death factor and completely relies on driver competency. Get in a TAG series to start, engines can't be touched, no suspension to adjust, just driver vs. driver, no excuses or fattest check books to hide behind. Most cars if not all can transport a kart with trailer and parts (~850 lbs total), running costs are low, tracks exist all across the states.. no? no? You don't even need to race against other people, just go to practice sessions, pay $35 for 6 hours and haul butt. Helluva cheaper then stuffing your 911 into a wall during an HPDE (get a proper shifter kart and it'll be a helluva lot faster, too! )
I puckered up much more in the HPV-4 Birel at Moran Raceway then in a 911 gt3rs on the Nurburgring.
I've done countless laps of the Nürburgring on GT4 and 5... and 5 laps on the real thing in my daily-driver.
Sure, you can learn the racing line, know what's coming up next, etc; but sitting on your couch or computer chair will never prepare you for the weight shifts, the feeling your stomach makes in the Karousell, or the changes in elevation.
Not to mention the fact that it's okay to wreck in the virtual world!