DiRT Rally Rallying Made Me More Focused

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How simracing can improve the quality of your life.

It is plain to see that modern society nowadays values time over pretty much anything else. In a world where everything goes faster and faster, and in 10 years we see occur radical transformations that in the recent past could take up even a century to happen, it is no secret that time itself has become a valuable currency.

Whereas before, humans used to live by nature, following its course dictated by seasons, and daily routines were conditioned by the sunrise and the sunset, today it is not like so anymore. We schedule everything according to very strict windows of time, on a 24/7 basis. Whenever we get even half a day off from all of our appointments, business and chores, we feel liberated.

A collateral effect to all this, is the importance given to simplicity rather than complexity in our society. To fit in such a frantic way of living, we end up in need of simpler things, often unconsciously associated with being ‘more natural’ per se (isn’t it true that Nature is capable of incredibly complex marvels though?), rather than pursuing sophistication. It is a normal psychological response, by counter-effecting an evil we feel is threatening us with something we see at its opposite.

The problem with giving more space to simplicity over complexity however is that we might end up over-simplifying things. We tend not to read anymore, and if we read, we want light readings. Something very short, on point, explained in a very simplistic manner, even if it is about incredibly complex sciences. We prefer pictures to text, and even movies and videogames now tend to abandon more articulated productions in favour of more generalist creations, easily sellable to wider audiences but lacking proper character as such.

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I am not pointing my finger, because if I would, I’d find myself too at the other side of it. I am like everyone else. Current society affects me the same way it does with all of us. It is what a friend of mine called “a watered down living”.

Now, there are many ways to fight this. From taking the habit to read every day, to set yourself long term goals and working every day to achieve them, the possibilities are endless and only you know what might fit in your situation better. What I found out, to my great surprise, is that in any case simracing can help you a great deal handle this problem.

I noticed not so long ago that my attention threshold was getting significantly shorter. It started with the incapability of sticking to a specific schedule, and ended up with me being easily bored out of things, to even losing focus while listening and taking part in a conversation. Nothing dramatic obviously, but it bothered me very much.

While looking at different solutions to restore the ideal span of my attention threshold, I curiously found out something that amazed me. In that same period, I started in fact playing Dirt Rally in my free time. What happened is that, because I am a hard-core difficulty junkie and so I set every hint on screen as disabled, I had to listen carefully at what my co-driver was saying while reading the pace notes set.

At the beginning, with shorter stages and slower cars, it was not that hard at all. However, the faster the cars got, and the longer the stages became, the more I had to keep my focus up to avoid crashing everywhere. I thought nothing of it, until I found out, while going out with friends or taking part in some meetings, that I was being much more consistent in my listening. I was much more mindful, and I was able to take part in a more participative way to conversations. Nothing really changed at that time in my life apart from starting playing Dirt Rally and leaning more towards the rally class in the simracing genre, so I immediately linked the two ends together. I was ‘shocked’ at first, but then it felt natural given that I was in fact getting used to listen more attentively, thanks to my co-driver.

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Driving and listening carefully at the same time, also had the bonus of slightly improving my multi-tasking. Even though, truth be told, barely, as I am pretty much a good old “single-core” processor, as a friend of mine funnily nicknamed me a while ago.

In any case, I think that what has happened to me proves mainly two things: first, in a philosophical, and poetical maybe, way, that solutions to your problems often come from where you least expect them to; second, that simracing is much more than just sitting behind a monitor holding a plastic wheel in your hands (or a gamepad, in my case!). It is not a mere escape from real world into a virtual reality accommodating your wannabe professional driver aspirations.

It can be a gym to your mind. It can train you, provided you give it the right motivation. It can teach you not only to become a more proficient driver, and that is plain to see for everyone, but also a more focused, determinate person. Simracing can be a tool, you just have to see it and put it to the right use.

Shouldn’t it work, this could be all one more good excuse to your sweet half to get her/him let you be while sitting in your sim-rig!

Original Pictures provided by Content Creator, user @ECGadget

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 Has simracing helped you too in any way in the past? Share your experience down in the comments below!
I can relate so much. When I was learning english, my exams were laid out in five parts: Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Speaking and Listening. I wasn't good at the Listening part, so what I did was set the co-driver in Colin McRae Rally 2.0 to English (as a bonus, Nicky Grist himself was the voice!). It rapidly improved my listening skills and my ability to extract the info I need in a quick fashion.

Conversely (and ironically), simracing was counter-productive when I learned to drive, but that was mainly due to my setup being just a DFGT with two pedals and our family car being a manual Hyundai. I messed up the pedals a lot, but I have great reflexes, for which I definitely have simracing to thank for.

Not to mention I also have RD to thank for the techniques! Hoping to solve some issues with my card to renew premium soon.

Wolf WolfZ

Wolf WolfZ
Great example there , well written article imho,

What you have explained there sounds very similar to Buddhist single pointed meditation, where you sit and focus your mind on a single object such as a candle or the in & out movement of your breathe, which with consistent practice strengthens the mind to clearly focus.

At first your thoughts are all over the place and your mind is everywhere but on the object of your meditation but with practice your mind becomes so clear and focused without effort , all your daily challenges become much easier to solve and as you say" in the office meetings" or in general conversation you are much more mindful , focused and clearer of everything, You become more of an active observer.
Thank you for your Article it inspires me to do more sim racing lol
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Two lessons here. 1. Anchor yourself by the way of focus so you don't drift all over the place. 2. Focus by the way of simracing. :D

Good writeup. Made sense to me as I use simracing not only for the fun of it but also as one of several ways to 'still the waters' so to speak so the better ideas can be heard within.

I nominate Leon for next Buddha. :thumbsup:
Well this is true for any form of (competitive) sport. But I think the point is, is that simracing IS a sport. It might not be as physically intensive as football or basketball, but with a strong wheel and stiff pedals you sure can get some exercise out of it.
And the combination of intense focus and physical nature of driving with a wheel and pedals does work therapeutic. Although it might not be as relaxing as snipping bonsai trees, excitement and good stress is just as necessary to keep you balanced.
Yeah that's neat. The only thing more impressive is doing it with a keyboard...apparently it's a thing in this day and age. I mean I guess why not? ;) I'd like to see a video of someone doing the ol keyboard on a rally game, and actually doing well


Professional Nutcase
And within this article is every reason why I sim-race, be it sportscars, openwheel or indeed rallying. Very few understand how something with the effect that is described is necessary, not just fun. I'm just glad I like motorsport otherwise I've no idea where I'd find this "meditation" as such.
To be honest...what a great commentary. So much words that fit absolutely in everybodys daily business I guess. Good to have something serious beside all the useless words regarding GTR3.
It was a pleasure to read your article and I would agree if it comes to the benifits of real simracing.
Best regards and a chilled evening ;-)
Very good column, thank you. I drive not Rally, but a lot of positive effects are the same in GT, Prototypes and others. Motoric abilities, concentration, reflexes, technical and physical knowledge, all that helps me to train my old brain. By the way, articles like yours are good for my english language skills.
In general sim racing games helped me a lot, however it is definetely worth to mention, that rally played a huge part in it. Especially DiRT Rally + Keyboard + Lancia Stratos HF (+meerkat80's Alitalia livery, thank you so much for this masterpiece :thumbsup:).
It all started as a small child when I checked the car magazines that my father bought in every month, they all came with a big poster right at the middle of the magazine.
One day at the poster there was a foresty rally track, visitors and photographers on both side of the gravel road and a sleek, stealthy looking machine in italian colors in the middle, with those huge yellow wheels drifting and pushing through the stage.

The whole picture instantly burned into my memory and many years later, I was sitting right infront of the fresly bought DiRT Rally's pre-stage screen and waiting for the counter to reach zero and fly through the stage with my Stratos.
Tons of carnage, failures, low-speed trench / ditch "visiting", sometimes overturns, crashing into trees / rocks / parking cars / guard rails / barriers followed on various points of a single stage and the car acted like an unforgiving, untamed beast (actually after the Stratos it was easier to handle Group B cars in this game).
Even on the tracks where I was able to pull out a win, there very many moments where I nearly got murdered by the car, the track or both and I loved it. It was such a challenge to get things right, I really needed to focus on the stage, there was simply no room for error.
I also started to listen to my co-driver more carefully, however sometimes I also took some notes (on Finland stages his confident "Jump maybe" was always equal with "You will fly into the orbit within a moment, but before you do so TREE INCOMING!"), so yeah, it is still a great game and I always return to it to try to complete a stage faster.
Thank you for the article, it was great.:thumbsup: