Immersion is a topic which is frequently mentioned here on RaceDepartment. I mention it often myself, and it is often discussed on the forums. Immersion is, as we all know, one of the most – if not the most – important aspects to sim racing. We frequently discuss how different aspects of a specific game or sim can be immersive, but what about your actual environment? One of the most frustrating facts about sim racing is the unavoidable distraction. There may be things we can’t always control - such as dogs barking when someone comes to the door, making you jump and skid off into a wall at 280 kph. Fortunately, the impact isn’t real… but the damage to your mood is. We may not be able to stop this - short of getting rid of the dog and moving to a small island with no inhabitants – but we can do some things to get every last bit of Immersion when the dog isn’t barking, or the children bursting into the room with the latest Lego masterpiece. Pull the curtains and turn off the lights. Darkness around you except the monitor can make a massive difference. It makes it much easier to focus on nothing but the screen, allowing yourself to slip into a sort of tunnel vision where the track before you comes to life and the cockpit fills the room. Use headphones. If you have a massive 7.1 surround sound speaker system and the ability to crank it up, that might be better, but for the bulk of us with basic pc speakers, headphones bring the sounds to life. It certainly makes a difference, however, to have good headphones over poor headphones. Personally, I’ve traded in my speakers for a nice headset. Suddenly, I can identify where sounds are coming from, and hear all the subtleties of the suspension. Well worth the trade, as this also cuts out other noises – such as those made by our canine companions. Turn off the phone. This might be impractical or seem unnecessary at times, but for the races I really want to get into, it’s a necessity. Any flash from the LED or the screen bursting into view when I receive a text message can be an absolute immersion and concentration killer. Get some gloves and shoes. This may seem trivial and unnecessary but it really can make a difference. Grip is increased with gloves, allowing a looser grip on the wheel, and even better it just feels right. When the real drivers wear gloves, why shouldn’t you? Which brings me to the racing shoes. Many people say they prefer to drive in socks. I understand this, but for me, socks kill it. I don’t drive a real car without shoes and so the pedals immediately feel odd in socks. Gloves and shoes may not be for everyone, and by no means do I encourage you to go and spend hundreds on professional racing gear, but if you are looking for another way to squeeze out every bit of immersion possible some slim, soft soled shoes and a pair of mechanic’s gloves will do the trick. Obviously, there is more which can be done through better rigs, seats, multiple monitors, projectors, VR devices and motion simulators, but all of these can be quite costly. So for those of us who don’t have money or space for such things, these simple steps can help. If you don’t already take the steps I have mentioned, give it a try, maybe next time the dog barks you won’t even notice.