Inside the racing game genre, there are some different sub-genres. Usually these are ranked based on their level of ‘simulation’. It starts off with ‘arcade’ racing games like the old Need For Speed series and the current Forza Horizon titles. The goal of these games is to only focus on fun gameplay. Jump high with your car, drive through explosions, crash with 200 km/h but still continue… games that are fun to play, and have the ability to be played laid back on the couch.
The next step is ‘sim-cade’, a mix between arcade and simulation games. The most populair games in this genre are Gran Turismo and the Codemasters F1 games that come out every year. These racing games try to be close to the reality, with realistic laptimes and graphics, but they must also be played by the ‘masses’. This means everyone can play them, and you don’t really need a steering wheel to be competitive. They have a high level of accesibility and can be played in your living room with a controller.
And then there is simulation racing. Some say you cannot call these titles ‘games’ anymore. They focus on simulating the real world as much as possibly, and they don’t mind if an inexperienced driver spins every half lap… because that’s probably what they would also do in the real world. Everything is focused on realistic driving physics. Popular titles in this genre are iRacing, rFactor and Assetto Corsa (Competitizione). Almost the complete community plays these titles with a steering wheel and pedals, and that’s where we come in to play.
For sim racing the inputs you give to your steering wheel and pedals are extremely important. Just like in real life, a bit to harsh on the wheel or brakes can unsettle a car, or even spin it. Modern racing wheels also gives the driver ‘Force Feedback’, a motor inside the wheel base that simulates bumps, kerbstones and even grip levels of the wheels. In the higher end of the market you can even get wheel bases that are so powerful, they can seriously hurt your thumbs or wrists in a crash. To use this sort of equipment, you need a rig that doens’t flex or moves. Flex means your inputs to the wheel or pedals are lost, because you aren’t putting your force through the wheel, but you’re bending the frame it is mounted on. And the last thing you want on a 1000,- dollar wheel, is Force Feedback getting lost throught the flex or your rig.