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Featured Achieving Sim Racing Immersion

Discussion in 'Other Racing Games' started by Ryan Ogurek, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Ryan Ogurek

    Ryan Ogurek

    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.

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  2. Never thought about gloves giving you more grip and therefore you can have a looser grip on the wheel. Is there a particular type of glove you recommend? I think a BMX glove with a thin suede palm would be nice and not overly expensive.
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  3. Ryan Ogurek

    Ryan Ogurek

    I use Mechanix Fastfit gloves. A smooth sueded leather palm is best, no rubber and as few layers and seams as possible. Plus they only cost about $15.
  4. Thomas Hinss

    Thomas Hinss
    Aussie Commentator and Writer Premium

    Cheap as chips really :)
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  5. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium

    Great article except for the socks. lol. It's really dependent on what type of system you have, I'd imagine. If your pedals are the low end variety, the only way to get a real feel and proper incrementation of force is with socks. But I imagine, as you move toward pedals with the feel of a real car, soft shoes with grip would be wonderful.
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  6. Tobias Röhner

    Tobias Röhner
    Germany's greatest Indycar Fan. Premium

    I wouldn't suggest turning off the lights, since staring at a bright screen in the dark is not really good for your eyes. To me, my good health is more important than immersion, lol.
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  7. Nice article, but that FOV absolutely kills any inmersion you are trying to achieve.
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  8. Richard Hessels

    Richard Hessels

    If your setup uses normal strength brake pedals that don't need more than +/- 30kg to push fully.
    When more i would use real shoes with a thin sole.

    I discovered that plain leather Spanish Slippers are a really nice drive, they are grippy, very flexible and quite chap (around € 10,-), you also save your socks.
    Make sure they fit well (almost tight), you need to wear them in.
    Look for real leather ones, many cheaper ones are made of fabric that looks like leather, they don't have the grip and wear out much faster.
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  9. Which FOV?
  10. Barefoot has more feel than socks for me.
  11. The one showed on the very first pic from the article.
  12. Gloves? Seriously? Helmet next with balaclava underneath? :) ;)

    Yes racing drivers wear gloves but only as protective clothing against fire, as per drivers regulations. My wife and teenage sons would laugh at me if I wore racing gloves in the house. And I wear socks too, fine with t500 pedals, and a normal jeans and a sweatshirt. I would drive in socks in my real car if it didn't look daft when I stepped out the car too.


    Yes immersion is important though, and I would like nothing better than my own driving room with full simulator, but I have to be realistic as I share a normal small house with the rest of my family.
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  13. Frank

    Administrator Staff Premium

    I know quite a few people who drive their real car with shoes off, which I will do too when I have mine :-D
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  14. jimortality


    Interesting, I wear my carpet slippers to race in and I agree that turning off the main lights would be a strain on your eyes. I live alone so don't have issues of what I look like should I choose to wear gloves or helmets but you say your families would think you look silly? just wait If you get the Occulus Rift now that looks silly!!!!
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  15. IRobot


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  16. Rami

    #20 FinnTeam Premium

    Hi you all. I have been to this sim racing so little time, so haven´t really given thought to gloves yet. But now that you mentioned them, think I will. Allso on last RD race I was thinking while driving about the shoes. I have a full set of driving gear because have driven few real races too, so all I have to do is get them out of the closet :) Those race shoes are so thin that they give you very good feel on the pedals, which is important in real car too.

    And what comes to gloves in real cars... I once was on a training day and drove about three hours of testing without gloves (forgot them home), my hands were on blisters after that. So the gloves are mandatory for races, but I really used them in training too, because the car fights back a bit and it really wears your skin on your hands when driving for longer periods. AND it gives you more feel to the wheel just mainly because of better grip. So why wouldn´t it in virtual racing too. With this said, gonna test both when I have time to practise again...
    RD, keep up the great work!
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  17. Everything comes down to what feels and looks immersive to you.
    But it's nice to know what the options are and what they do.

    My tip for a more immersive feeling: A buttkicker mounted on your seat.
    It's the cheapest "motion" device and it's easy to install. :cool:
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  18. Not sure about the issues with socks as if I wear any type of footwear I feel in less control of the pedals (not a good sign for real life driving haha) but in regards to gloves, I wear them mainly because the G27 wheel is coated in leather and my hands get sweaty otherwise. Of course wearing gloves does help with gripping the steering wheel as well I guess.
  19. I'm not really sure if driving in dark room is good for your eyes...
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  20. Right with ya with the head phones, Though when one of my kids walks up and starts tapping me on the shoulder to get my attention the spell is broken.

    I've got a secondary set up in my home theater (projector) where I can crank the volume up to deafening levels, This is also good, Until the wife busts it making even more noise about the noise.

    Gloves?, not for me, When everything falls into place I don't even register my grip on the wheel, and my feet are naked...