As a sim racer, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers of ranking systems. But I’m here to tell you to stop worrying about ratings on ranking systems and instead enjoy the sim racing. A bit of advice from me to you.
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Safety Rating. ELO. iRating. Incident Points. There are so many facts, figures, numbers and data points in sim racing tied just to how you perform in a race. Whilst these are often what we look for most in new racing simulators, they can distract from one’s enjoyment of the racing.
You can’t tell me that you’ve never under driven, got het up or over-pushed just because of a low safety rating, rising incident points or a high strength of field. When it comes to the many ranking systems that exist in sim racing, very rarely do I have an entirely fun time racing. I’m sure this is also true for may a sim racer out there. Well, perhaps it’s time we put these numbers to the back of our minds and enjoy sim racing again.
Ranking Systems are Great
In no way am I saying that ranking systems like iRacing and Low Fuel Motorsport are bad for this hobby we all enjoy. iRacing has long been the go-to simulator for clean online racing and that is thanks to its ranking system. Low Fuel Motorsport brings the same quality of online competition to a wider range of titles. Sometimes it even gives them new life, like is the case for rFactor 2.
With each race session tracked to the smallest detail, drivers are ranked in amazingly accurate ways. This allows racers to enter races alongside others of the same performance level, giving everyone a fun time. I’d always pick to race against someone my own speed rather than try to catch up to a simracing professional.
As for the many approaches to Safety Rating, in most cases, it seems to weed out the dirtiest of drivers in a very good way. Whilst accidents do happen, drivers that tend to cause the most end up being stuck in the lower classes. Those with an ability to race without coming together manage to rise through the ranks and make their way to the cleaner races.
Both methods for categorising racers work very well and allow fans to enjoy sim racing to the fullest. But with the positives comes one sizeable negative.
The one Downside
The main downside to ranking systems and the numbers associated to them is that sim racers pay too much attention to them. I certainly fit into this category.
Early on in a race, I may get an off-track incident point. This will break my focus on the racing and I’ll get another, and maybe a third. By the time this happens, I can no longer concentrate on what I’m doing. A missed braking point later and that’s a fourth. At this point, I’ve totally lost it and have no control of my race craft. Then, a crash with a fellow racer and I’m frustrated. It’s time to retire from the race before doing more damage, only to see I’ve lost a chunk of safety rating and dropped a century’s worth of iRating. At this point, I’m so tired of the cycle that I switch off and don’t touch online racing for another week, taking refuge in single player modes.
I’m sure many will identify with experiences similar to this one and it all stems from a single incident point.
A similar case can be made for ranking points such as iRating or ELO on LFM. Gamer Muscle recently went through a month-long struggle to 5k iRating. Obsession of this level is not only unhealthy, but as you can see from his video recounting the experience, a poor result puts him in a terribly low mood.
How to Enjoy Sim Racing More
Now that we know what we’re doing wrong, how can we fix the problem and enjoy sim racing again? Well, the answer certainly isn’t to take away ranking systems. As I mentioned, even I agree that they make for the best online racing outside of leagues.
That doesn’t mean racers should always have an eye on their rating. ELO or iRating shouldn’t be of concern to anyone. Whether you’re a beginner with a lowly number or a professional breaking ELO rating records, we are all sim racers here to have fun. Too often these days do we avoid racing on the off chance we have a bad race and lose rating. I for one do this all the time. And it has to stop.
As for safety rating, you always have to be safe and respectful. Whilst you shouldn’t burst into tears every time you get an incident point, it’s still bad to consistently reaching near-disqualification levels. A bump and a scrape will never hurt anyone. But a lapful of spins and crashes will soon see you make enemies.
The best thing to do is to forget the numbers associated with ranking systems. Once you can do that, you’re sure to enjoy sim racing a whole lot more.
Do you agree or should we actually focus on numbers more? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!