If the last round of lockdowns didn’t convince you; then maybe checking the long term forecast will change your mind. Snow is here, among many of the reasons to stay inside. In case you haven’t watched the 1st Episode of this season’s podcast let me remind you Ontario people: pulling your handbrake in the snow now definitely counts as reckless driving! Maybe it did before, but surely any type of parking lot or drifty drift in the white stuff is not worth the risk of impounding your car and losing your licence. So what’s the alternative to all this doom and gloom?
Simple, simulator racing. For the third season running I’ve been hosting my own Milk4coffee Sim ‘Beer League’ of sorts. Why do I simplify its description as a beer league? Because it is simple, easy and cheap. Oh and a lot of participants choose to race inebriated in one way or another. Which I remind you is completely legal! Unlike in real life. In case you couldn’t tell, the goal is fun. This essence is the goal of every single simulator out there, no matter how serious they take themselves.
On the level of professional to arcade-y the order of “games” goes something like this:
(1) ARCADISH – SIMULATORISH (10)
(1) Forza Horizon (2) Forza Motorsport (3) Formula 1
(4) Gran Turismo (5) Project Cars
(9) Assetto Corsa (10) iRacing
The last two there are interchangeable and arguable, there are also many other racing titles. But this is your most basic summary of the most popular titles out there. The difference is that an arcade style game is more easy to play and a little less realistic in it’s driving dynamics to achieve a more fun play style and atmosphere. Where the simulator is meant to be as close to the real thing as possible. Your understanding of a simulator being never as good as the real thing is a must. Get over yourself, it never will be “real”.
Enter the money game. The more realistic you want it to be, you are most likely going to end up paying more money. As with anything in life you get what you pay for. Better pedal and wheel setups versus better consoles or computers. It’s all relative. So be prepared for that.
Next we need to talk about competition. The range of skill is just like anything else. Some people can’t swing a hammer. Others can barely hit a nail. Others wield a hammer like Thor. So keep in mind there’s lots to learn and don’t get frustrated if you’re not the best out there right off the mark. The learning curve is just like a track day, continual! There’s always room for improvement. Once you go racing in online multiplayer there is literally a whole world of people to race with and against! I’m going to take a moment and thank the nearly 20 different people who joined my league this year because we’re only a few races in and it’s already been an absolute blast. It truly is arguable that just hopping online with your friends is better than popping down to tims and standing around in the cold drinking coffee and staring at cars. Simply because it’s the same comradery but with some playful competition. I’m sure every single person would agree.
Let’s talk shop. HOW MUCH $$$? As a baseline I’m going to use my “beer league” as an example. We play Forza 7, a game which is now a few years old and costs <$40 to play in most cases. You can play on PC or an Xbox One X, all things that are more easy to come by because they are not the latest generation. Plus you can race with a controller or a wheel. So that’s wide open. But let’s get back to the costs. Setting yourself up on a used seat and used Logitech G27 wheel which is also a couple years old will be in and around the $500 dollar mark altogether. So if you get everything used including the game, you’re looking at $500 – $800 for the console, seat, pedals and wheel to get you going. Anything less than that and you’ve got a bargain or something that might just be made with 2x4s and wood screws (yes it’s out there). The price goes up from there. The skynet, I mean metaverse, I mean sky….is the limit.
Now here’s the main thing. For that relatively marginal amount of money you can drive any car in the world on almost any track in the world, with almost anyone in the world. For that, you have to admit it’s a pretty good deal. Not a bad way to travel the world and brush up on some apex basics locked in the comfort of your own home.