Sustainable Nerd - Sustainability and Sim-racing
Being a sustainability science student and someone who likes sim-racing (racing with a simulator with pedals and a steering wheel in a computer game), I got interested in the combination of the two. In this blog, I will take a look at the sustainability and unsustainability of racing in a virtual car.
For some context, I have been racing in computer games for about 6 years now. The first few years were purely leisure-focused. I did some drifting and some more casual career-type games. However, I have been doing some more serious competition-oriented racing in the last few years. The last large thing I have done is a 12-hour team endurance race with 2 good friends. We practised a lot and it went quite well. But most importantly, we had blast.
Now enough about me, let’s talk sustainability ;). When comparing sim-racing to real-life racing, sim-racing is far more sustainable and accessible to everyone. Real-life racing is mostly done in cars powered by powerful internal combustions engines. These engines use a lot of fuel and emit loads of greenhouse gasses. A lot of tires made from rubber are used up very quickly. Rubber is made from oil, just like fuel which is pumped up dealing damage to the climate. Sim-racing on the other hand doesn’t have any of this and is definitely much better for the environment. It also has heaps of other benefits: It is cheaper, you can do it whenever you want, it doesn’t require real circuits that take a lot of space, it has no sound pollution and it can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Nevertheless, sim-racing has its own drawbacks. First of all, most games used to simulate racing are not easy to run and need a powerful computer to run. Such a computer does use a significant amount of electricity. Also, to make the game as immersive as possible, powerful steering wheels are used to tell you what the car is doing through the wheel. Add a VR headset or 3 monitors and your power bill will surely increase.
And then you have the con that sim-racing, even with the best most expensive hardware, will never be as amazing as driving a real car on a track. It is truly stunning how emersed you can feel while driving a virtual car around a track, yet it will just not be as realistic as real life.
Too close off, I will keep driving a fake car around a fake track in the future anyway (with the little time I have to spare next to uni, work, sports, partying, and doing other fun stuff), just because I enjoy it a lot. I could highly recommend it to anyone who might have gotten a little interested after reading this. You can always send me a message so you can try out my simulator :) (Do mind it is not in Utrecht but Ede, but maybe this will change if I can find a room).
Have a fruitful week and goodbye