This is the area where our hobby diverges from game titles as pure entertainment. At the movie theater, I may go see movies covering a wide variety of movie genres and subject matter. The same holds true for most game titles, such as The Sims, Empire IV, Half Life 2, F.E.A.R, KOTOR II, Doom 3 or Black & White — they’re entertainment. But sims are frequently a bit more than that, because while they are very entertaining to us they also “scratch our itch” to do some challenging task that interests us, or that we could have done in real life.
I know that’s how it is for me with motorsports. When I entered the PC world in 1998, I was immediately attracted to modern jet sims because “I could relate.” My learning curve was lower because I already had the basic training on the subject. But quickly I got that “been here, done that” feeling because I do flying for a living. I noticed that my tastes were shifting into two distinct paths: historical flight sims and motorsports sims. Not coincidentally, these are my two primary interests outside of aviation, and two things I can’t readily do, because a) I don’t have a time machine to go back and fight in WW II or Korea, and b) I am not a millionaire groomed to be professional race car driver. But I can get a taste of both of those things through the wonder of the modern PC.
But I have no interest in naval sims, for example. I never dreamed of driving a ship when I was a kid, and my time in the Navy re-enforced my distaste for that line of work. So it should be no surprise that I don’t follow those titles, and don’t buy them. But that doesn’t make me guilty of fragmenting the community.
I think the ‘no opinion’ lines shows us that folks have specific tastes in the sim community, because they have a very specific ‘itch’ that needs to be scratched. And because of that, we have seen very limited sales within our community. Other game genres don’t have this problem, because as pure entertainment they can reach a wider audience. Imagine how movie sales would be if some folks only were interested in seeing comedies about veterinarians, or dramas about bankers, or mysteries about IT professionals.
How I Read the “No Opinion” Tea Leaves
1. The members of this site are primarily devoted aviation sim fans.
2. We occasionally dabble in more mainstream forms of electronic entertainment, because it’s entertaining, fun and escapist.
3. Most of us aren’t “mod maniacs”. We may have a few favorite mods, but in general we play a relatively ‘stock’ version of our titles.
4. We have a great deal of loyalty to titles that we already enjoy, and in large part find that titles we enjoy are very ‘deep’ titles that have a high degree of replayability (IL-2, F4 and GPL come to mind).
5. We cross-niche within the sim genre to a varying degree. For the majority of our members, all simulation subjects are not equally interesting.
Of course, SimHQ serves as the “one stop shop” for simmers of all flavors, covering a wide range and variety of simulation subject matter, and we think that many of the members of this site are likewise willing and interested to try some other aspect of the sim genre, which only serves to expand the community. But the fact remains that most simmers don’t have equal enthusiasm for all simulation subject matter or genres.
6. Because our games are hardware-intensive, we are very savvy about PC technology.
7. The members of this site in general enjoy complex task titles (modern jet avionics, ship handling) over pure hand / eye action (motorsports, shooters).
Well, that’s it for SimHQ’s “Best of 2005” Awards. When thinking about the poll and the results, don’t forget to take the time to look back on all the entertainment value you got from this years titles, and especially the superb freeware mods. Thank you all for participating, and we look forward to your gaming inputs and comments in the coming year. The staff enjoyed comparing notes with the members and looking at the trend data that can be extracted from the results — we hope you enjoyed it, too.
And to the devoted developers and dedicated mod teams out there: Your efforts are often (at best) thankless, and so we here at SimHQ would just like to say THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK, THE ENTERTAINMENT YOU’VE PROVIDED US OVER THE YEAR, AND FOR HELPING TO KEEP OUR REWARDING HOBBY ALIVE.
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The SimHQ “Best of 2005” Reader’s Poll is here.