Sim Racing Media Niche – Autoethnographic Research Report

Sim Racing Background

In my first blog for this semester, I introduced my scheme for my media niche which I would be investigating, this being Sim Racing. With COVID-19 Policies coming into effect during 2020, Sim Racing has “thrived as the cancellation of real motorsport events prompted a growth in the following of virtual events (Noble, 2021), in which game titles like iRacing experienced “overall hours watched increase by 106%”. (Krustofski, 2020) Along with Sim Racing growing in terms of a spectator sport it also saw a major rise in active users with the Codemasters F1 2019 experiencing a surge of “202.23% in active player count” (Krustofski, 2020)

Like many others, I have always been a man of motorsports but overtime has slowly moved away but with the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’ revitalised the spark bring a new generation to motorsport as F1 viewership grew to “almost 1 million in 2021” (Pinkerton, 2021) when the second season of the show launched. With Lockdown restricting so much of our lives, I like many others retreated to video games to spend our time and with that, I was introduced to Sim Racing, due to how fond I had gotten with the genre, I started engaging with the Sim Racing media niche of content creators, which I hoped to explore through this semester

My Sim Racing Media Niche

The Sim Racing media niche has spread across many different platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok as content creators alike explore new means of sharing content online. When looking at Sim Racing, it was important to narrow down my field site from one “bounded space…to something that more closely tracks the social phenomenon under study” (Burrell, 2009) in which I decided to narrow down my field site to the Veloce Esports organisation.

Veloce Esports Field Site

Veloce Esports is a content creating & Esports organisation that is well versed in Sim Racing, Veloce has partnerships with Lando Norris’ Quadrant, Yas Heat, Mercedes F1, Mclaren, and Alfa Romeo while having a large cast of content creators under its banner. Through this web of collaboration, Veloce has established itself as a powerhouse within the Sim Racing Media Niche which is why I target them as a means for understanding how the media niche operates.

Veloce Homepage – Courtesy of: https://www.veloce.gg/

Sociology Framework and Research Intentions

My Analytical Framework is built on the concept of Sociology as I study “the relationships among individuals and institutions.”(Rousseau, 2014) in the Sim Racing media niche. The “community itself is one of the main reasons sim racing has exploded in popularity” (Burfield, 2018) which solidified the importance of developing an analytical framework that played into the aspect of sociology to help me analyse my experience within the media niche. The main focus of my DA was to gain an understanding of how this media niche operates and provide an insight to a general audience may they be looking to grow their own content or research this media niche.

Epiphanies

During my autoethnographic research, I was exposed to what is known as epiphanies which are “remembered moments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life” (Ellis et al. 2010) which has been important for identifying the crucial learning moments through my research into the media niche.

3 Crucial Learning Moments:

  • The Importance of framing your persona around what type of content you want to present.
  • The use of Collaboration in small niche communities is important to encourage growth with the presence of the attention economy.
  • Establishing a community around your content or game genre is vital to building a long-standing relationship with an audience outside of the content or game title.

Reflecting on Epiphanies

In my 6th and 7th blog posts for this semester, I went into great detail on how these epiphanies shaped the means of how I approached my autoethnographic research throughout the detailed life cycle. Below I will provide a brief overview of my self-reflection of these epiphanies.

Persona:

Through my experience watching other content creators’ media, I found that developing a persona that works in harmony with the type of content you create, the content, in turn, felt more enjoyable and genuine representation of the creator. With a Persona being “what people say and think about you. It encapsulates your talents as well as who you are, and it’s how you can differentiate yourself from others” (Botticello, 2021) going forward with my own engagement and content creation it was important for me to create content that worked with the persona I have been developing as a University student which helps me show future employers that I have “engaged in the industry” while being able to “showcase my talents to potential employers”. (Doyle, 2020)

Collaboration:

Within niche communities “Smaller YouTube channels can band together to become stronger than the sums of their parts.” (Grin, 2021) which is prevalent within Sim Racing as a result Veloce has grown and brought many content creators under the Veloce branding while working with other organisations like Quadrant, Mercedes, McLaren, Yas Heats to build a network of creators who can collaborate and share viewerships.

Community:

The idea of community was one of the earliest Epiphanes and due to its importance to the success of Sim Racing’s media niche. It manifested itself into its own pillar in my analytical framework alongside Content Creation and Sim Racing Games. With Lockdown in full effect “People are craving community now more than ever” (Karpis, 2019) and with the rise of platforms like Reddit and Discord we have seen that “Fans can bond with one another, which ultimately solidifies their bond with the influencer as the creator of that community.” (Lorenz, 2019) This solidified the importance of engaging with the many different communities surrounding Sim Racing games during my autoethnographic research period.

Digital Artefact and Online Persona

The Support of Autoethographic Research

Critical Reflection on experience as an audience member.

Autoethnography is “research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, et. al, 2010), and this process has exposed me to many epiphanies while being an audience member of this media niche. Through my Sociology analytical framework, it has allowed me to view my experience from multiple different points of interest which directly I could directly integrate into how I complete my Autoethnography and DA content creation.

Use in Content Creation:

Epiphanies in consequence of Autoethnography helped shape how I approached content creation as they acted as “transformative experiences” (Ellis, et. al, 2010) which allowed me to make better judgments about how I presented my content in terms of my blog series and YouTube videos. The usefulness of Autoethnography has been crucial in allowing me to create content that fits my persona while also targetting the audience I want to reach going forward.

Final Comments

Through my experience of completing autoethnographic research into the Sim Racing, media niche has exposed me to so many learning moments that have shaped the means of how I conduct research going forward and how I create content shaped around a manufactured online persona. I hope you have enjoyed following me on this journey as much as I have and I look forward to seeing where University will take me next year and I really wish you continue to follow me going forward!

Reference List:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. & Bochner, A.P. 2010, Autoethnography: An Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108

Noble, J (2021) Why Sim Racing’s boom looks to continue in 2021 [online] https://www.motorsport.com/gaming/news/sim-racing-esports-boom-2021/5081540/ [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Krustofski, N (2020) ESPORTS RACING YEAR 2020 IN FACTS AND FIGURES [online] https://www.overtake.gg/news/2903-2020-review-on-the-sim-racing-and-racing-games-boom [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Pinkerton, B (2021) One Good Thing: I didn’t watch any sports. Then I watched Netflix’s Drive to Survive. [online] https://www.vox.com/22652554/drive-to-survive-f1-racing-netflix [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Burrell, Jenna (2009) ‘The Field Site as a Network: A Strategy for Locating Ethnographic Research’, Field Methods,  21:2, 181–199 [moodle] https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2937142/mod_resource/content/1/The%20Field%20Site%20As%20Network.pdf [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Rousseau, N (2014) Society Explained: An Introduction to Sociology [online] http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uow/detail.action?docID=1660821 [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Burfield, W (2018) WHY IS SIM RACING SO POPULAR? [online] https://drivetribe.com/p/why-is-sim-racing-so-popular-QACIM-yYQiGOvW_rTNvVOQ?iid=EOfaFdN9SsmZU0hE3PvSPg [Accessed 1/11/2021]

Botticello, C (2021) The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Personal Brand in 2021 [online] https://medium.com/digital-marketing-lab/the-ultimate-guide-to-creating-a-personal-brand-in-2021-dfee8fb0666a [Accessed 3/11/2021]

Doyle, A (2020) How to Create a Professional Brand [online] https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-create-a-professional-brand-2059761 [Accessed 3/11/2021]

Grin.com (2021) what is a YouTube Collab [online] https://grow.grin.co/youtube-collab/ [Accessed 3/11/2021]

Karpis, P (2018) Why Building Community Is Critical To Your Brand’s Success [online] https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulinaguditch/2018/11/29/why-building-community-is-critical-to-your-brands-success/?sh=1c380be73458 [Accessed 3/11/2021]

Lorenz, T (2019) How an App for Gamers Went Mainstream [online] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/03/how-discord-went-mainstream-influencers/584671/ [Accessed 3/11/2021]

Hui, A (2021) Creative and Collaborative Learning Through Immersion [online] https://books.google.com.au/books?id=BfQ8EAAAQBAJ&lpg=PA214&dq=what%20is%20the%20experience%20like%20of%20being%20apart%20of%20the%20sim%20racing%20community&pg=PA214#v=onepage&q&f=false [Acessed 5/11/2021]

100 Thieves (2020) 100 Thieves Geography Pattern [online] https://www.reddit.com/r/100thieves/comments/hw5n42/does_anyone_have_this_camogeography_design_with/


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