“Why do you use T-Cam?! It’s not realistic!” is one of many things that racing game players have heard at least once from gatekeeping elitists. Let’s talk about it.
Image credit: BMW
Sim racing is short for simulated racing or racing simulation, it is pretty self explanatory. Many people get into sim racing because they don’t have the money to do it for real.
As a result, there are many sim racers who get caught up in what’s authentic to real life. They live by the rule of “is that realistic?”, which would be fine if they keep that hard and fast rule just for themselves. But some don’t. It seems there’s an overwhelming urge by certain people to dictate how others play a video game.
Selecting a Perspective
When it comes to choosing a view, of course the most realistic one is cockpit camera. Nobody can physically place their head on the bonnet, or the T-cam, or even in some cases directly behind the car in chase cam. Even if it was physically possible, their noggin will be a huge aerodynamic hinderance.
With all that being said, there is one unrealistic element when it comes to cockpit cam. Unless players have an ultra-wide curved screen or multi-monitor setup, the in-car camera can be extremely limited since it’s a 2D image. This is why many drivers opt for T-cam since it provides a better view on a flat image.
This however has spawned a lot of criticism from elitist sim racers claiming “it’s not realistic”.
F1 drivers like Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and George Russell opt for T-cam, as is shown in the video above. This compilation of drivers using T-cam was made by Ethan Dean, who is an editor for Jarno Opmeer and James Baldwin.
If F1 Grand Prix drivers use T-cam, why is there even any sort of discourse claiming anyone who doesn’t use cockpit cam isn’t a true racer? The ones who actually are racers in the real world aren’t clamoring for immersion.
All those clips came from the F1 games, which receive plenty of criticism for not being realistic. This is something we will get back to, of course. But on other titles with a T-cam option that are more simulation-based, drivers have used T-cam if they feel more comfortable and can go faster as a result.
The following clip shows Jarno Opmeer practicing for the V10 R-League finals, which took place on Assetto Corsa, a simulation title. If anyone is of a “I get angry when I see someone using T-cam on a simulator” disposition, they may want to refrain from watching this horrifying clip.
Not only is Jarno Opmeer a two-time F1 Esports champion and part of the team that won Mercedes the V10 R-League, but as established in that previous clip, he did compete in junior formulae. He was second to F2 race winner Richard Verschoor in Northern European F4 and then went on to compete in Formula Renault EuroCup where the majority of current F1 drivers have earned their stripes.
If there’s anyone qualified to talk about the matter, it’s Jarno Opmeer. If a driver can gain an advantage doing something that isn’t grounded in reality, they will take it in order to be as quick as possible. Competitive esports racers will not care about immersion if it means they can go faster.
Whether it’s disabling force feedback effects running over a rumble strip in order to open up the corner as much as possible, or pressing escape rather than doing an in-lap, is that not what racing is about? Getting the best result possible? If immersion needs to be broken in order to achieve that, is it not worth doing? Of course, it can go too far if it’s explicitly against the rules. For such a case, see the grass-dipping incident on iRacing during the Spa 24 hours.
Another element of playing racing games is selecting assists. It’s nothing to be ashamed of if some help is needed in order to enjoy driving, and not everybody is an F1 Esports driver who can drive quite easily without traction control, racing line and so on.
The argument can be made that driving aids shouldn’t help players go quicker, but rather they should merely help them stay on the track. We have seen countless times in racing games that enabling driving aids like traction control, ABS and especially braking and steering assist does hamper lap-time.
Racing line can serve as more a braking reference, which isn’t entirely unfair. In fact, as established in this clip from MaximeMXM, even Lando Norris uses it.
Ultimately, people shouldn’t be dissuaded from using driving assists if they aren’t able to drive the car without spinning it every other corner. Video games are meant to be enjoyed, and if that requires a bit of help, never let an elitist convince you that it’s not the right way to do it.
Speaking of video games..
It’s a Simulator
Finally, what sim racing elitists do is police whether certain titles can be called sims or games. Fans of iRacing or other more simulated-based titles will scoff at the prospect of anyone daring to refer to iRacing as a game because it’s “way more realistic” than F1 22 or Gran Turismo 7.
One big irony about iRacing is that it’s often cited as the least realistic market simulator according to many professional real-world drivers. But that’s neither here nor there, the issue at hand is calling them ‘video games’.
According to Google, a video game is defined as “a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a monitor or other display.” So what is iRacing if it’s not a video game? Well iRacing aren’t afraid to refer to themselves as a game.
If sim racers don’t want to play the F1 or Gran Turismo games because the handling models aren’t as “realistic” as iRacing or other simulation titles then that’s their choice. Nobody is under any obligation to play a game they don’t want to.
But to claim that the more accessible and widespread console titles are lesser products because they aren’t as grounded in reality, is not a good look. It’s hardly Mario Kart, they still drive like normal cars. There’s solid proof of the so-called unrealistic F1 game’s legitimacy as a platform to demonstrate driving ability in the form of current F1 Esports championship leader Lucas Blakeley.
Our February 2022 Hero of the Month beat 4-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel in one of the heats during the Race of Champions. This was in spite of his only prior real-world driving experience being 20 minutes of driving a BMW around Silverstone. What’s more, while he has played simulated titles, the Scotsman is mostly focused on the F1 game.
As for iRacing, yes it’s a video game. Just because they’re more realistic doesn’t make iRacing, rFactor 2 or ACC any less of a video game.
Whether it’s breaking immersion to gain as much of an advantage as possible, enabling driver aids to enjoy the game, or driving a game that isn’t “as realistic”, in the end all that matters is enjoying a gaming experience. Play the game the way you want, as long as it’s not directly ruining other’s experiences, it’s not unsporting or against the rules, have fun racing.
What else should sim racing elitists not do? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!