Like any organization, the same rules apply when creating a racing club. The general focus is to bring together like-minded competitors under one roof. This usually starts with a particular theme the club founder wants to pursue, –a kind of vision of the temperament, character, and goals of the club.
The first simulation racing clubs were formed when Xbox Live hit the tarmac with Forza1. It was an integrated club feature that melded the on-line experience together with Forza1, in a seamless full featured way. As a result people could easily and creatively organize and track club activity, lap records, and club growth in the game, while playing the game on-line. It was the single most powerfully attractive feature of Forza1, responsible for the creation of many of today’s well known clubs like, TRC (TimeRacingClub), F4H (Fight4Her) VVV (Vedi Veni Veci), EXOR, PpR, WWR, EMW, GLR, EZT, TDR, V12, AAR, and many more. This attraction established club dynasties, and retained driver participation in an unprecedented way. Arguably it was this single feature more than any other that allowed Forza to become the game it is today.
You’ll notice a club member by his three letter prefix in front of his gamer tag. Those who belong to clubs tend to be more serious and higher skilled drivers, but not every club member will always have the club prefix.
Being a part of a club is the surest way to become faster. The power of the association lies in its collective member numbers acting as a force multiplier towards faster lap times. With more members comes more knowledge is the point, something that an individual driver acting alone cannot easily overcome.
Unfortunately, this wildly popular seamless design, and ingenious tool for creating lasting clubs, was inexplicably discarded with the release of Forza2 on the Xbox360. Because it was not immediately disclosed as to why the club feature was deleted, when an explanation finally did surface from, “Turn 10”, the devoted were unimpressed and unconvinced. It was alleged that the club feature was impossible to implement on the 360, because it was simply old outdated architecture from the original Xbox Live system. Conspiracy theories suggested an additional reason, that keeping the integrated club feature would only increase the unwanted power and undue influence of popular racing clubs, –a direction the game makers (“Turn 10”) did not want to go in.
Whatever the case may have been, the loss of this feature was a major blow for all Forza clubs, and took away one of the most popular gaming features ever invented for simulation racing. Apparently it could be argued, the club feature was a victim of its own huge popularity, –a popularity so great as to be borderline intimidating on several fronts.
Undeterred, but admittedly weakened by this radical change away from club hegemony, many of the less powerful Forza clubs fell by the wayside, while only a few of the strongest more stable clubs would soldier on via dedicated websites.
Today some of the legendary clubs have returned but only as a mere shadow of their former glory. Those that managed to survive are not the high octane powerhouses they once were. Forza clubs today are smaller, less dominant, less influential, less well-known, more diverse and fractured, and generally less organized. As a result, associations like www.IFCAracing.com house a variety of clubs under one competition banner, not unlike NASCAR does for their racing teams.
As the theory goes, too much domination and popular influence from one group heads down a path that leads towards exclusion, and away from broad inclusion, something some game makers wish to avoid at all costs. A prevailing but contrary or competing theory is that, passionate popularity attracts fanatical fans that promote passionate popularity. Such fans enthusiastically devote themselves to a game in such a way as to make the game their own. This kind of extreme fan support and addiction is the engine that can fuel a gaming dynasty.
Looking at Gran Turismo for example; their fan base is rabid to say the least, even though “Polyphony” has yet to produce a sequel to GT4 in four years. Yet, the fans are as strong as ever. Broad mass appeal, inclusion, and diversity, are apparently irrelevant terms to “Polyphony,” they only seem to be interested in creating the best driving simulation racing experience, everything else be damned.
Rumor has it that GT5 will in fact have an integrated club feature suspiciously similar to what was in Forza1. If this is true, expect a sweeping resurgence and return to a time when the car club scene dominated simulation racing; a time when unfettered competition was left unchecked, and off the charts, with no limit in sight. Expect a competitive intensity the likes of which you have never seen before. If it does happen, better get your flame retardant butt in a good car club faster than you can say, Mario Andretti, or be left behind.