Stop claiming you beat IRL with a sim, because you didn't

If you're feeling a bit bored and decide that comparing your best sim racing lap time or performance to something in real life (IRL) is a worthwhile exercise, please don't.

Seriously, do not bother posting or streaming the attempt to Twitch, YouTube or anywhere else, because while the sim or game may have led you to believe that you beat a particular feat from the physical world, you really didn't, OK. You just didn't.

I say that as a sim racer myself and as I write this I happen to hold the top spot in Automobilista's Time Trial Overall Leaderboard Ranking (see virtualxperience.net/ranking/global/1 then look for SAM12H to see where I am now), and so I get the need to share what seems, on the surface, to be a really great achievement in your sim rig, I really do, because in a way I just did it then, didn't I.

But there are a few key differences. First, that ranking is only compared to other users of the sim who have also had a crack at its time trial mode. It's not comparing anything to the physical world even though it is trying to represent it as best it can (and the principles certainly do apply with regards to physics and setup changes, just not the results).

Secondly, I spent the time during 2021's lockdown specifically pursuing that goal and fully exploited its points system to rank ahead of players who, I'm sure, are actually better than me at driving and engineering a suitable setup most of the time.

Compare your sim performances to other players, not to real life lap times or races.

Compare your sim performances to other players, not to real life lap times or races.

Thirdly, I haven't made a video about it. Anyone outside the video gaming hobby is unlikely to appreciate the effort because, all said and done, it's still just a game.

As for how the lap times compare to anything IRL, even hypothetical IRL, I'm quite happy to admit that they don't.

The leaderboards indicate that my favourite car is the Formula Classic (their rough interpretation of a turbo F1 car of the '80s), and I have several top times, usually on tracks with really tight and twisty bits to negotiate.

But I also know full well that I could not do that IRL. Not even close. Not even with a lot of practice. The number of crashes necessary to find the limit for a given amount of tyre wear is absurd, and even if there were unlimited cars to throw into walls there's no way I'd want to because crashes aren't fun even at low and easily-survivable speeds.

Other things you assume when you do this is that the track and the car are true-to-life representations, which in most cases they're not, or at best still not quite.

Even in the industry benchmark of iRacing (at least when it comes to the accuracy and detail of the physical data and calculations for cars and tracks, although perhaps not the actual driving sensation), the IRL drivers with some sim experience are faster than themselves. Take a look at the V8 Supercars' 2020 lockdown sim races and you'll see that those who got good in their sim rigs were about a second a lap quicker at somewhere like Mt Panorama in iRacing than they were IRL.

What I usually see instead though are wildly-inaccurate cars or tracks (or both) in a far less physically accurate sim (even if the sensation feels real and your driving style translates over from IRL) claiming they beat something that happened IRL. And it's frustrating to see that, at least when it's a popular YouTuber, people just lap it up like it's a valid comparison when it definitely isn't.

On the subject of YT, did anyone else notice how they seemed to screw over all the small contributors in 2018? Their business model, like many free video sharing services if we're honest, has managed to not only outsource copyright violation but also monetise it. In 2018, their policy changed so that the threshold for taking a tiny share of the ad revenue went up to a point where beginners or casual uploaders making just a few dollars on the side now get nothing.

Their excuse was protecting their advertisers, but it looked like, at best, a contrived knee-jerk reaction to a popular YouTuber not having the sense to not post a video where he and his friends came across a deceased person on a tourist walk.

However, in 2021 they changed the policy again to allow themselves to put ads even on videos that had not, or couldn't have, been monetised, so where is the advertiser protection there? Those two policy changes seem completely contradictory to me.

This story Stop claiming you beat IRL with a sim, because you didn't first appeared on The Canberra Times.