The world of sim racing is large, complex and diverse. Take genres, for example. Open wheel vs tin top. Tarmac vs dirt vs mixed surfaces. Ovals vs road vs point-to-point. Permanent circuits vs public roads vs semi-permanent circuits. Historic vs modern vs decade. Street/road cars vs race cars. FWD vs RWD vs AWD. Sprint vs endurance. Fictional vs IRL. And the list goes on…
Alternatives for participation are no less numerous. Championship leagues vs developmental leagues vs pick-up racing vs scheduled single races (a la Race2Play) vs offline racing vs hot lapping / data analysis vs iRacing vs leaderboards vs track day simulation vs just cruising.
The sim racing community is just as diverse with geography, time zones, preferences, personalities, philosophies, competitive vs gentleman racers, age / maturity, fanboys, trolls, video jockeys, etc.
Endless HW configurations and dozens of SW choices and tools add to the mix.
It should be no surprise that all of this, along with the inherently self-directed nature of sim racing, can all be quite overwhelming to new or potential sim racers. And this is all before even getting any of this hardware and software to work, let alone learn how to drive!
So the purpose of this article is to help, at least a little, with navigating what can feel very much like a maze. But at least knowing what’s out there and even just some questions to ask to get you started or pointed in the right direction should be helpful.
One of the first things you can do before even committing to sim racing or purchasing any hardware or software is to introduce yourself in a few software developers’ forums and start to ask questions, even if your question is that you don’t know what questions to ask.
The responses you get will not only be potentially helpful, but may also give you a sense for how supportive the community is and/or an idea of the community’s personality (at least the vocal minority’s ;))
I recommend starting with Reiza Studios based on the maturity/helpfulness of the community and company as well as the ease-of-use of the sim, should you decide to take the plunge.
Also, I am able to thoroughly enjoy all of my sims with a Logitech G27, a single screen and a GTX760. I also know plenty of content and very fast sim racers who have the same or less HW. YMMV, but I thought I’d share just in case because you will most likely be deluged with nonsense about how you need to spend very large sums of money on sim racing HW which is simply not true and is advice that often comes from video jockey’s who are sponsored by HW companies or unskilled sim racers looking for something they will never get without learning how to drive.
Another piece of advice is that if you are not expecting skill development to be part of your sim racing hobby, then my advice to you is to stop here and stick with racing games because you will not be getting much more out of a sim without developing your skills.
Lastly, here is a link to my sim racing process in case it gives you ideas.