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Virtually Real: Can Racing Sims help us when we get behind the wheel?

Virtually Real: Can Racing Sims help us when we get behind the wheel?
By Efrain Olivares


Part of the perks of being on the staff of MotoIQ.com is that we get to go to all of the cool media events and get some free food and drinks. So we found ourselves at the launch party for Forza 4, the newest version of the Forza series for XBox, which was a big party held at LA Live.

Virtually Real: Can Racing Sims help us when we get behind the wheel?
Looks like we should have went to the Forza party and left Efrain at home!


While we enjoyed our gourmet mac and cheese and drank our Red Bull Vodkas, a few of us got on the topic of how helpful a racing game like Forza 4 could be to hone your skills for going racing. While nothing beats actual seat time, what could a realistic game teach you about racing?

Virtually Real: Can Racing Sims help us when we get behind the wheel?
Efrain says Tommy Kendall graduated from UCLA.  I wonder if he went to Cal State Long Beach as well because I remember reading about him in the CSULB student paper when I was there. -mk  Tommy was the host of the event.


The host for the launch of Forza 4 was Tommy Kendall. For those of you that need a history lesson, Tommy Kendall was one of the greatest American racing talents throughout the late 80s and early 90s. A Southern California local, Kendall – a UCLA graduate – was earning his degree at the same time as he was competing in SCCA, IMSA GTU, and IMSA GTP competition. In fact, he was famously given his degree in a mock ceremony at the start/finish line before the 1991 Mardis Gras Grand Prix in New Orleans.

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Comments
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:40 PM
Virtually stunning pictures on page 3 :) I have to agree with Kendall's analysis. There's only so far that a game will take you because their is no "feel" to what your driving. If their were a group of Motoiq guys gaming it up with Forza I'd finally shell out the bones and join in, BUT it still wouldn't beat getting together for a track day or some Kojima driving instruction!

PS I'm fascinated on how the game works with the Kinect? Is there a wheel you hold or something?
M-P
M-Plink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 4:28 AM
"So the ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of a race – be it tire degradation, fuel burnoff, changes in grip – is a skill you won’t be able to hone in a game."

Try some iRacing and he will soon learn that tire degradation, fuel burnoff, and change in grip are very prominent. I have tried a lot of "driving simulators" and iRacing is so far to me the most realistic...Forza has never been anywhere near the top of that list.

However, simulations do not replace actual track time....the lack of g-forces will always be the downfall of sim-racing.
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 6:14 AM
There are a few racers that use video games to learn the line and landmarks before they hit a new track for the first time. I remember an F1 driver (Bourdais maybe? I've forgotten) who spent a few hours playing the Formula 1 video game to get used to the new tracks before he set a wheel on them the first time. Games are only good for so much. The one place they make you better is at R/C racing since there's a big disconnect between driver and car. I had a friend beat me on the R/C track his first time out because he's a video game nerd. On the road going home he got his tail handed to him.
Marillionado
Marillionadolink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 8:12 AM
“No racing game can prepare you for the team owners that will lie to you!”

LOL!
Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogerslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 8:55 AM
"So the ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of a race – be it tire degradation, fuel burnoff, changes in grip – is a skill you won’t be able to hone in a game."
"The main difference between driving a car on a track and driving a car on a racing simulator, even if you are in a full simulator with a seat, force feedback steering wheel, large monitor, pedals, or the Kinnect system on the new Forza 4 game is that you will only be able to use your vision to react to the car – you won’t feel anything."
Both of these points are correct. I think it provides a great learning platform for drivers and tuners alike. I've spent time driving on Forza Motorsport 3, and I think that, though you can not feel their effects, these simulators can still teach volumes about perceiving over and understeer. Between Mr. Kojima and other research, I have learned about manipulating over and understeer, turn in, and grip with vehicle tuning. Go simulators!!!
Shin
Shinlink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:03 AM
@ Der Bruce, the Kinect use in this game is kind of silly...
You turn your head and the driver will turn his head in the same way (but if you turn your head you won't be able to see the screen).
Kinect is a motion sensor/cam type "thingy", it responds to your movements.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:27 AM
@ M-P: Yes, the physics engines of a lot of these games will give differences in the way the car handles, but it's not going to make the steering wheel feel heavier/lighter, show you how the tires get that "greasy" feeling where they don't give you that same coarseness through the wheel at the limit, and hitting those bumps in Turn 8 @ Willow Springs will show you how the car gets unsettled, but you won't feel the front and rear end of the car independently lose grip as you enter braking for T9.

Before the car actually commits to a set, be it understeer, oversteer, whatever, it tells you a lot of things about what it's going to do that a simulator just can't capture.
Mulry
Mulrylink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:33 AM
I used iRacing off and on for a couple of months before going out to Infineon for my first LeMons race there. While it certainly doesn't provide the butt dyno stuff, it was invaluable for learning the track itself and the racing lines and where the track is tricky. During the LeMons race itself, I ended up drifting into a 4-off at turn 3a right at track-out, but having done that several times on iRacing in that exact spot, I was able to anticipate the situation and drive through it without any loss of control. Didn't even pull a black flag for it. As a novice driver (10 LeMons races and a couple HPDE's but that's it), I suspect I would have otherwise spun had I not practiced that same maneuver several times online. In short, I found that iRacing was an invaluable aid to getting comfortable with that track and knowing what would work where.
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 10:25 AM
Then there's the total opposite effect...Guitar Hero making millions of people think they can actually play a real guitar...no...you in fact can't.
Garrett
Garrettlink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:20 AM
iRacing has made a huge impact on my driving. IMO none of the other games/sims compare to it, though GT5 is decent and pretty fun.
Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogerslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 1:20 PM
@8695Beaters This kind of comment is frustrating sir. As a devils advocate...sure....;P I can play guitar pretty well. Like I said...real parameters are of course different, however, the conceptual gain from simulation process is priceless. No "simulation" will make you a pro at what it is simulating though it is a wonderful learning tool. I do see your point though.....but I have been drift tuning on Forza for years so I am now a "pro" tuner....tehehehehehehehehe
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:02 PM
I can play guitar too and I learned by teaching myself. And I also mentioned above that playing racing games does teach a little bit here and there, but by no means are you an expert by sitting in front of a TV. Unfortunately there are a lot of people my age (~20 or younger), who think that getting the lap record in Forza means they are Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and the Stig combined. They also think that beating "One" in hard mode means they are driggin Steve Vai and both those kinds of people irk the hell outta me.
SkullWorks
SkullWorkslink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:02 PM
lol at M-P if forza isn't near the top of your sim list you have a very short list...there aren't many choices out there, and if you don't understand car setup it can be less than gratifying,

the forza series is so far easily the best "off the shelf" racing Sim,

iRacing rocks as long as you have the setup to take advantage of it,

forza only requires an x-box 360
Garrett
Garrettlink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 3:16 PM
A little more devils advocate: In my experience the people who are fast in real life are equally fast in racing games. I'm talking real drivers who are competitive in their respective series. Doesn't matter if its with a wheel in iRacing or with a controller in Forza 3, they seem to have the ability to find those tenths or even seconds that most of us struggle for. So somewhere in the mix there is some correlation between virtual and reality.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 3:43 PM
Beaters - Hilarious analogy with the Guitar Hero comment :)

These games are fun and can be helpful to memorize a certain track, have a better appreciation for tire wear, fuel useage, etc. BUT there is still no "feel", no matter how you slice it.

Garrett - I'll play angels advocate, have you ever played a pick-up game against an ex college player? Competitive people, especially professionals, don't really know how to turn the competitive button off.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 7:52 PM
I am an ok race car driver but I suck at games and sims. I can't judge anything correctly and end up going too fast.
M-P
M-Plink
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 7:55 PM
SkullWorks - I have been playing racing sims for a long time and while I haven't played every game ever made, I've played a lot of them for PC, Playstation, and XBox and there have been more than you might think.

I won't argue that Forza is a bad game because I have had a lot of fun with it. I also won't argue the fact that it is more easily accessible than a PC sim. The main point lies in the fact that there are better sims out there. Maybe Forza 4 will reduce the gap, but Forza 3 is pretty far behind in realism when it comes to vehicle physics.
Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogerslink
Thursday, June 30, 2011 7:11 AM
Turn 10, creator of the Forza series, has stated in interviews that they have been working closely with Pirelli to more correctly model tires. We'll see how they do right?
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:28 PM
Who says you can feel the Gs with racing sims?

http://wimp.com/robotsimulator/
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:28 PM
*can't

Grrr
Jasonrg77
Jasonrg77link
Friday, July 01, 2011 6:09 PM
Driving sims don't make you faster in real life, but they did train me to look WAY farther down the road. iRacing comes from the same folk that made Grand Prix Legends. I have that one, and it is in no way easy or simple. I waited until I had a Real PC to try it, only to realize that my game wheel move on my desk, and pedals slide on the floor. I'd have to make a dedicated setup just to enjoy it.
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