The hobby of the few

There are many hobbies which people like to partake in during their spare time, be it playing sport, watching TV shows (generally as many episodes in as short of a time period as possible from personal experience), reading books or cooking. But one that is shared by a much smaller group of people around the world is a hobby called sim racing.

After a small silence as you try to figure out what that is, I hear you ask, what is sim racing? Well essentially it is using motor racing video games to emulate the act of motor racing, trying to replicate the real thing as much as possible. Now of course, trying to use a game such as Mario Kart wouldn’t really do the job too well, as the amount of realism it has is about as much as a Michael Bay film contains. Instead, the games used are the ones which are as close to the real thing as is currently available, in the form of games such as Rfactor, Rfactor 2 and iRacing to name just a select few.

Rfactor 2 in the flesh

For the most part, people who really want to emulate the racing which goes on in the real world tend to play these simulators with more than just a keyboard and mouse, instead using a proper steering wheel and pedals setup to make it as realistic as possible.

Numerous leagues have been formed worldwide where people who want to have as realistic and proper racing as possible join up to. These leagues have rules which try to emulate what it is like in real world motor racing, so driving like it is a destruction derby will not make you last long in these leagues.

Practicing with the Ford Focus ahead of the Austrian Round of the International Touring Cup at the GPVWC

If the league is big enough, then the races that take place throughout each season are broadcast live online, with live commentary being done as the action takes place. This commentary is something I do for multiple leagues, as it’s something I’ve always been quite interested in.

Hard at work in the “commentary booth”

Of course, these leagues are based in Europe, where sim racing has its largest following, making the hours I have to be up at in order to do these broadcasts quite early (4am at times). Trying to explain that this is something I voluntarily do (without being paid anything for doing it mind you) to people is quite challenging, as it’s not something most would consider normal or (some would say) sane to do.

What interests me about the commentary work I do is that I am actually a very introverted person, so logically you would assume commentary would not be something I would be able to do so comfortably. Once I slip into the commentary roles I do it just feels like a environment which I am so at ease and relaxed in, more so than I do in my daily life (whether that is a good or bad thing I’m not sure).

It’s a true showing of something that isn’t just confined to sim racing, that if you are extremely interested in something then it can elevate your confidence levels beyond what they are in every day life (people with social anxiety know what I’m talking about here). This certainly rings true for me, as in even the most basic social scenarios in daily life, my nervousness and uneasiness levels are quite high.

Being able to escape to sim racing and commentary is something I have found hugely beneficial for my personal development. It has given me confidence in myself which I’ve most certainly needed, allowing me to do something I really enjoy which can be watched by others too. Doing this commentary work can also lead to work in the real world if you know how to show you to those that need to see it. Though there are only a few sim racing commentators who have made the leap into real world commentary (Liam Jenkins being the main one that comes to mind), it is still possible to get into real world commentary from the sim racing world.

It is something I really do very much enjoy doing, despite how draining it can be given the times which I have to be awake to do it. It’s something that I think helps me outside of the sim racing world too, as having to commentate live isn’t an easy thing to do, requiring very much the same skill-set which has to utilized by real world commentators.

Below is a short video I’ve made to hopefully go some way to showing and explaining why it is I do this sim racing and commentary work, finding it such a rewarding thing to do in the process.

If after reading and watching the above ramble about sim racing you are interested in finding out more or even joining a league, here are a couple of links to a few of the leagues I’m involved with.