Why sim racing is not the best name for our esport

Why Simracing is not the Right Name

Here’s why we should call it “esports racing” to include all racers in any video game and put focus on their skill level.

Photo credit: Kunos Simulazioni / 505 Games

Reading articles by traditional media sometimes feels like a bingo game of horror. Which dreadful term for esports are they going to pull out of the hat today? From eGaming to pro-gaming and cybersports, you get to read a lot of painful things.

The gaming community has agreed on the common term of esports. But when it comes to our esport, racing in video games, discussions start to rise again: Should it be sim racing, virtual racing, or eRacing? We at OverTake chose to use esports racing and I think it should be the common term for competitive racing in video games. To understand why, let’s take a dive into the history of esports.

Why the term “sports” in esports is important

The first video game competitions were held in 1970s and in the 1980s, esports had become a hobby activity for video game enthusiasts. Back then, people met in arcades to have some fun tournaments. The most common competitive games were classics like Tetris, Pac-Man or Space Invaders. In those games, it was all about competing against yourself and getting the highest score of the tournament.

Since then, esports has changed. Today, the most popular games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike require a strategic knowledge way deeper than in traditional sports. Studies show that the level of stress esports athletes face during an important match is equivalent to the stress a footballer feels when they have to take a penalty.

The fun tournaments have become a billion-dollar business with millions of viewers tuning in every week. The entire infrastructure of the scene is built around full-time athletes being members of professional teams, competing in organised leagues and tournaments, fighting for millions of dollars provided by sponsors and advertising revenue. The ecosystem of esports has become equivalent to traditional sports.

Critics still argue that using fine motor skills only cannot be considered a sport. However, the term esports describes more than just the simple actions by the athletes. It describes the professional ecosystem, the perfection with which players and teams play and the strategic depth that underlies the games. Using terms that include the word gaming instead of sports would just ignore all of that. It is thus only right to call competitive video gaming what it is: esports.

“esports racing” includes everybody

When it comes to racing competitions held using video games, the bingo of terms starts again. eRacing, Virtual Racing, eRaces, you get to read a lot of funny wordings when someone from outside the bubble writes about it.

Within the scene, two terms are mostly used to describe our sport. Sim racing and esports racing. The first term clearly is the most popular, looking at the number of searches on Google. However, there is an issue. The sim part is clearly an abbreviation of the word simulation. Sim racing stands for the games that try to replicate real racing as well as possible. For titles like iRacing, Assetto Corsa or rFactor2, the term is fitting.

Why sim racing is not the best name for our esport
More people around the world search for sim racing instead of esports racing. Photo credit: Google.

But there is more in the world of racing video games. From Kart Rider, a flashy arcade racer with a huge following in Korea, to popular titles like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, which bridge the gap between arcade and simulation. Competitiveness, tournaments, and leagues can be found in any racing game.

Nothing speaks against using sim racing if you talk about proper simulations. But if you talk about competitive racing in video games in general, it should be esports racing. Not only for inclusion purposes, but also to raise awareness of the professional ecosystem and the highly competitive level of the athletes.

Do you prefer to say sim racing or esports racing? Tweet us your opinion @overtake_gg or leave us a comment down below!

Maik Jahn
Born and raised close to the Nürburgring.