Video Games Used as Simulators by Professionals: iRacing

Posted: February 26, 2012 in INFR 2330
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As games are being developed further and further to become more realistic than its competitors or previous versions, more professionals are adapting games as tools to help them improve their skills.

Games are not necessarily only created and designed for leisure and entertainment. Recently, more and more games are being brought out to be used as simulation to hone the skills of professionals. A good example are medical simulators for surgeons, flight simulators for pilots and so many more. Though these have been around for a long time, they have often looked crude, or lacked the full immersion and realism that simulators should have.

Nowadays though with all the new technology and hardware, very realistic simulators can be made. A simulator that takes advantage of all this, that is used today and will be discussed in my blog post is iRacing.

More and more driver’s have been using this simulator to improve and hone their driving/racing skills. Some are just casual players looking for realistic driving games to play, or some players are big name racers practicing without going to the track and facing the real dangers while trying new skills.

Simulators are becoming more and more popular with professionals as they are convenient ways to practice without experiencing as much danger, but gaining the same skills from going out. In a way this is helping professionals cut costs of using real machines versus a simulator.

What is iRacing?

It is an on-line racing simulator designed to be as realistic as possible. Using real physics of cars in its game, unlike more arcade games such as Forza or console racing games, it tries to be as accurate as possible. Though this game, which the company calls a service, requires a monthly subscription fee.

The video game uses exact replicas of cars that can be raced in the game along with replica tracks from around the world. The game also has officially sanctioned events such as real races for prizes.

How does it look?

Though the graphics aren’t the best of the best, they aim for realism with proper proportions and cockpit views for players that want to get as close to the experience as possible.

Cockpit screenshot from iRacing

The game does offer automatic updates, so you can expect the game to get more and more realistic than what it is already as it is developed further.

Track Record, who uses it and has it actually helped?

A great example for a professional using iRacing as a training tool is Tommy Milner. Racer Tommy Milner claimed that playing these simulators helped dramatically reduce the learning curve of new tracks. He applied his training through the simulator iRacing to win the 24 hours of LeMans; a huge race that is a triumph for any driver to win.

 For a couple thousand dollars (this includes the price for the giant TV!) he built a rig at his own home to practice without having to spend the resources to get into an expensive racecar and hit unfamiliar tracks.

Milner in his home racing rig running iRacing

“I spend probably 2 hours on the sim a week when im not racing and 2 hours a day a few days leading up to a race,” Milner told Jalopnik.com It helps racers refresh their minds on tracks they haven’t raced on for a significant amount of time.

This is not the only success story of using iRacing in a professional setting. More good examples are Racer Trevor Bayne using iRacing to help him win the Daytona 500, or even an average guy, named Greger Huttu, who has never driven a racecar playing and winning races on iRacing, then put on a track to see if he can actually race like he races online. Recently, even Travis Pastrana is using iRacing to train for NASCAR.

Conclusion

 With hardware advancing further along with software, simulators are being made more and more realistic everyday. These developments are helping professionals and even regular people gain the skills they would never attempt to achieve in real life (due to several complications).

We can hope that simulator technology improves to the point we can only practice on simulators and apply our skills directly to real life right after. Games are becoming useful for real world applications and being designed as training aids. Keep up the good work world!

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