Recently it was made known that a certain dear member of the Forza community sadly passed away the other day. Said to be a fine painter, and known as an avid racer, “TMZ Ramoza” from Mexico will be missed by many. The specific tragic details of how he left this world (and I don’t know them) won’t be nearly as important as his stay here was, and the impression he had.
It recently occurred to me that the term “community” is finally no longer frivolous when applied to the virtual world. The virtual XBL/Forza community, like so many other real communities, is a vibrant multitude of interesting real people you’d like to always have a round you. They are your friends, your rivals, –a loose brotherhood, not unlike any group of people with a shared interest. Our shared interest happens to be that of the automobile. So in-common is the love for the automobile that as a sport it is more global than soccer or even cricket.
Motorsports tends to transcend less dangerous sports on every level, but especially on the life and death level. In racing, it is the stark reality of real risk and danger that does make everything else, “just a game.” It is also one of the fairest, and has one of the most level playing fields of any human sport outside of chess and horse racing, allowing smaller poor countries to compete and beat rich large countries. And still, let’s be honest, like in any sport, cheating is always a topic of interest on the tips of everyone’s tongues in the paddock or pits. If NASCAR were the Olympics, they’d probably have to shut the whole damn thing down. But it is because of these elements that motorsports is so unrivaled in appeal and universally pursued by millions.
The morality play of motorsports is what we essentially crave. It is a sport about drama, ethics, competition, and performance. It is a play about powerful machines and powerful people. Like a modern Greek tragedy it has its heroes and villains, but what would one be without the other anyway. We love it all, the good, the bad, and the sad. We love seeing the almighty American’s for example, being out performed by non-American F1 technology, tracks, and drivers. And American’s love to see F1 foreigners struggle to win a single race in an 850hp NASCAR that only has to turn left. Everyone has an opinion in this sport, and no one will take a back seat to express it. And so it goes with the virtual world of the simulation racing enthusiasts too. Aside from bodily harm, all the same elements are present in simulation racing for better or for worse, but it is what we asked for, so we can’t protest too much.
An unintended consequence of our connectivity as a community is real life impressions. As much as we say video games are a fictional escape from reality, reality occasionally barges in like some rude party crasher drunk off his ass. Whether it’s a lossed job, divorce, poor health, or even death, eventually reality pokes his unwanted nose into our virtual world sooner or later affecting us all.
No longer mocked or laughed at by everyone, including real racers, sim-racers are serious real people too it turns out. And when we lose one of our own, we all feel it, whether we raced with him or not. It is this kind of community impact that gives us all pause, clearly telling us we have been affected by our experience here whether we admit it or not. I never knew Luis Ramos (“TMZ Ramoza”) but his part in the XBL/Forza community play did not go unnoticed.
Just try to remember, this is not the only world you will visit, and what you virtually do here is not altogether insignificant or frivolous in the greater reality of life. Always know you are making an impact in your simulation racing community, and the hobby is the better for it.