A Look into the Sim Racing Esports Cheating Pandemic
Cheating. It’s not a new topic. Where there is competition, hard work and determination, there will always be people and methods to take shortcuts, undermining what truly goes into competition and making esports special.
The Sim Racing community is currently embroiled in a large debate over the usage of cheats, mods, add-ons and secondary tools to gain a competitive advantage.
Sim Racing cheating is prevalent and widespread
While this is a universal issue, this seems to be a particularly prevalent problem with Sim Racing recently and in particular Assetto Corsa Competizione and F1 22. From high-profile leagues to public lobby chaos, the community at large is calling for more stringent policing before it spreads to other games, though a recent tweet from @WIL_Hydra confirms the worst:
“I never thought I’d make a tweet like this for ACC but here we are. If you ever wondered what a Cheater looks like in ACC here is Exhibit A: Kirill Sadyrov The top video is me and the bottom video is Kirill. He has admitted to cheating to us with a defence of “99.9% of ACC pros do the same”. Anyway I’ll let the lap and lack of track usage do the talking now.”
With the game seemingly lacking an effective anti-cheat system, (a fundamental tool built into the game that checks for ‘footprints’ used by cheating software to block it tampering with the game); more and more cheating cases have been cropping up, even as low as PSGL F10, one of the lowest leagues in the group.
Recent development comes in the form of Alvaro Carreton, known for competing at esports-level for Williams Racing, who was spotted with ‘F1ModderBypass’ and other modding software present on his system during a stream.
Carreton released a statement following the revelation he had modifications to his game installed, citing he was ‘investigating suspicious activity within the community’ and ‘reporting back to Codemasters/EA’ regarding his findings, but given the accidental way it was revealed and underhanded dodging of the topic up until the statement’s release doesn’t do any favors.
“After what was seen on my stream, I must clarity that I do not use any mods or exploits to compete. In recent months, I have been part of an investigation into suspicious activity within the community. Myself and others have been testing what is possible and how it can be identified. We have shared our findings with Codemasters/EA and F1 to support their efforts to eliminate any cheating. I have never and will never use any cheats to compete. My goal is to help create a clean and fair game for everyone.”
It remains to be seen if this can be officially confirmed by the game’s developers or publisher. Outside of divided commentary from the esports community, no official sources have corroborated this claim.
Racer and Youtuber Jimmy Broadbent put together a great new video discussing these allegations:
Slippery slope? Where is the line drawn?
With all of the discussions of cheating running rampant across the sim racing communities, this brings with it a valid and concerning point. At what stage is it ‘too far’ to call someone a cheater?
The issue of cheating being so rife is that it is now extremely hard to separate what is a cheat, and what is genuine skill in play.
Found a generational talent in your racing league that smokes the competition? How do you know they’re not cheating?
This gradual erosion of trust has resulted in even the top talent in official esports scenes being accused of cheating. Although largely without evidence, every race particularly in the F1 circles is being flooded with toxicity and derogatory names. Racing leagues like PSGL, WOR and more having to step in with statements and increased moderation.
Luckily, some of the top talent in the community have the skill and keenly trained eye to deconstruct drivers’ performance and judge whether most allegations are actually cheaters or not, aided by tools such as lap analysis and telemetry data.
Similar to Donadigo and the Competitive Patch in the Trackmania scene; It’s a passionate community and hard work that keeps the integrity of its esports scene going. Youtuber Wurtual did a great recap of how much effort it took to catch cheaters year’s after the fact:
Time can only tell how sim racing will bounce back from what looks like a cheating crisis currently. With Rennsport’s ESL R1 getting largely positive reception and the game looking promising, with other games hearing the voice of the community and heeding their requests for stronger anti-cheat.
In a way, games could take a leaf out of the books of CS:GO and Valorant. Either through stronger kernel-level anti-cheat, or a player-driven Overwatch system that puts the keys to integrity in the hands of the community.
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