Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finding My Voice on iRacing

I've been a member on iRacing now for almost three years now. The racing has always been close, exciting, and sometimes frustrating. How close can the racing be? Here's a photo of a finish I had with Travis Powell for the win:

So yes, it's been a fun run, but it wasn't until recently that I utilized one of the features of iRacing and that is the voice chat.

For the longest time I raced in silence; I could hear everyone else but I refused to put on the headset. This was much like when I started playing on Xbox Live in that I was terrified of speaking as who am I to talk? Who am I to say anything? And, if I did talk, would I be yelled at?

I always found it strange that I could communicate so freely over the Xbox, but this new game and new system changed everything. Perhaps this was because I wasn't my gamertag but rather, quite simply, Aaron Likens. Perhaps it was the system in that one must hit a button to key up the microphone and only one person can speak at a time so, perhaps, this intimidated me because I have never been good at timing in conversations. Whatever the case might have been I never spoke. That is, until last season.

iRacing introduced a "fixed set-up" division of the IndyCar and I, for better or worse, became addicted to it. Where as before I was usually running fourth, fifth, or sixth now I was competing at the front. In these races, however, a lot of time is spent under the yellow flag and there are usually conversations during these periods. I would hear the conversation going on and usually I would be compelled to respond, but the only way I could was with my keyboard but typing and driving is something that can go real bad real quickly.

The typing game persisted for about a half week and then I finally gave in and put the headset in. It was a little intimidating at first, now having a voice instead of toneless words, but slowly it became easier and easier to speak.

I'm amazed it took me this long to finally find my voice and I'm surprised that all my years of racing on the Xbox didn't allow me to instantly find my voice on iRacing. I still struggle at times, even more so when there are multiple people engaged in a conversation because, still, my timing is always off. I always feel as if I'm stepping on people's toes as if conversations were a dance and I don't know about you, but I wouldn't like having my toes smashed. However, it's now been about eight weeks since I started speaking and I am much more comfortable now then I was and each race I feel more and more at ease.

Here's what I find odd about this; when I started on Xbox Live I had just been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome not more than four month prior. I knew I was a horrible speaker and my words were always forced or rushed. Now, almost eight years later, I'm a speaker for my job and yet going into a new environment, even though I had spoke over Xbox for many many years, I was unable to speak.

To close I do have to say one thing that bothers me on iRacing. Sometimes, when a person gets wrecked, they expect an apology. This is fine, but often times someone will either say or text, "What, got no mic to apologize? How convenient." Perhaps they do but perhaps they're like me. And this example can be used outside of iRacing, which is why I'm writing this today, but perhaps they have the mic but are unable to speak. Perhaps they are listening but the fear of speaking is too great. With silence you can never tell, but I know I was in that place and trust me, I wish I would have spoken up years ago as perhaps I'd have made new friends as well as speaking after a race enhances the comradery, even more so after a thrilling race, but I was unable to. After being on both sides of the wall I will never get mad if someone wrecks me and doesn't apologize orally because, in life, we can never tell what is truly going on and on the offshoot chance that person on the other end is on the spectrum I know if I get angry they will become less and less likely to find their own voice. I know that's true because I was there.


  1. What? They DEMAND an apology for an accident in a game...? I know it's annoying when something like that happens and it's nice if someone apoligises, but seriously... It's a game. Get over yourself. I haven't got an Xbox 360 of my own (which is a shame, because I'd like to game with you sometime), but I've played at my ex's house (yes, we broke up 2 days ago T_T) a lot of Halo Reach.
    Trust me, there are some real bastards out there. Some make mistakes and want you to apoligise for walking in their way while you were supposed to be there. Or they kill you, you kill them back and they get angry.
    Supid stuff like that.

    Aaron, if someone gets angry at you, it doesn't always mean they're right. It doesn't mean they are justified. Some people seriously just need to be ignored. (wanted to use stronger terms here, but decided not to, since I wouldn't want to defile your blog)

  2. @Issha

    Many people take iRacing seriously because it costs far more than your average Call of Duty or Halo game, and its members are expected to be good sports toward each other. Races take upwards of an hour, you can't press the A button to skip the "boring parts," and there's no reset button. Being involved in any crash is frustrating, and in the community its a common courtesy to apologize if you caused the crash.

    iRacing is more of a virtual motorsport than a video game. If the most of your game experience is with Halo Reach, you have no idea what iRacing is like.