Friday, 29 July 2011

Noise Restriction Nonsense

This is a post I published early last year on RaceDepartment, a motorsport and racing game community site. It is reposted here, edited slightly because of my less cloudy and more discerning mind nowadays, for your enjoyment. Despite its age, the issue it talks about is still very much one that needs to be discussed.

Britain – a country with a rich and diverse motor racing history, with many F1 world champions, some awesome tracks and some of the most avid fans – not to mention the home of car and engine manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Cosworth and others.
And yet, it seems that some members of the public are intent on stifling this favourite sport of mine. Apparently, they don't like the noise that the race cars produce, and have lobbied for noise nuisance orders to be issued so that they can sit and read their newspapers in peace. Sadly, most of their attempts have been successful. Two famous british racetracks – Castle Combe and Snetterton – have had to limit the number of days/weekends of racing per year due to noise nuisance orders being issued by their local councils at the request of residents. And in 2009, that greatest of circuits, Spa-Francorchamps, was threatened by local residents... complaining about the noise.
In Castle Combe's case, this was particularly crippling; the British Touring Car, British Formula 3 and British GT Championships have not been allowed to return to the circuit since 2005 - the cars, apparently, were too loud. And for Snetterton, its owners had to reach a compromise with the local council: limiting the number of unsilenced cars on the track at any one time, and limiting the amount of time the vehicles are allowed to run.

This annoys me to the highest level. I cannot even begin to comprehend the sheer nonsense of this situation. Yes, some people find the sound of an unsilenced car annoying – though it is an aural symphony to fans like me, I can understand their point of view. What I don't understand is why these people insist on spoiling the enjoyment of millions for the "peace" of a mere few.

If the residents in question are that serious about eliminating the sound of race cars, they should probably go somewhere where there aren't any cars racing. Simply moving away is the most bleeding obvious solution, but nevertheless there are a few deeper questions that need to be asked of these ignorant residents.

Just how many of the complainers have lived in the area for a long time, ie. more than a few years, and are therefore accustomed to the sound of cars coming from afar? Not many, I can assume.
Continuing on from the first point, how old are these annoyed residents? Castle Combe and Snetterton opened for racing in the 1940s and 1950s respectively, and Spa has been holding races since 1921. I don't think many of the residents would have been born before these tracks were opened; therefore, the track in question has been around and making noise longer than they have!
How many of the angry residents did their research before buying their house? How many took a look at their area's local attractions and thought “Oh, there's a racetrack near this house I'm going to buy... maybe I should think about getting a house somewhere else,”? Honestly...

Furthermore, these people seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that race tracks are a major tourist and traveller's attraction. Motor racing costs money, but it also brings money in as well. The BTCC and related championships have always been popular, and are a major drawcard to a local area. Are these residents not noticing that Snetterton and Castle Combe bring a lot of visitors in, with quite a few quid in their pockets? A circuit is quite a useful tool for boosting the economy of a town or city, and the select few intent on destroying what means so much to so many people are either ignoring it or unwilling to acknowledge it... or maybe they're too brainless to realise it.

Anyway, it's getting late as I type and my brain's starting to get a little sluggish, but I feel slightly at ease now that I have vented my frustrations about these ingoramuses who populate little English villages near famous race circuits. The men and women whining about the buzzing and rumbling of motorsports can have their quiet afternoons, reading their Sunday paper. But in the process, they are killing jobs, and the entertainment, monetary and historic value of a place close to the hearts of many, many fans.

And they have no-one to blame but themselves.

Friday, 15 July 2011

My game is better than your game, Hurr Durr.

You know what really pisses me off? Fanboyism. The aggravating habit of unwavering loyalty to your favourite movie, sport, clothing brand, etcetera. You can find fanboys, with the odd fangirl (or is it the other way around?) in almost any area of life that caters to consumers, and leisure time is no exception. In today's active and sometimes confusing world of the Internet and online gaming, people have come to expect more and more from their video games and gaming experiences as technology has advanced. We now have video game producers hiring professional voice actors, utilising motion capture and developing graphics technology that makes your jaw drop, among other things.

One genre in which the above and more is exceedingly evident nowadays is First Person Shooters. Before I continue, let it be known that I am not a regular player of FPSs. I am a sim racer at the core, and I get more out of hustling a virtual race car around a virtual race track than I would with anything else concerning gaming. Aside from the atmospheric single-player adventures such as the brilliant Halo and Half-Life series, and quick deathmatches with friends at a LAN party, I really don't care much for games in which you hold a virtual gun and spray bullets everywhere. This does not mean that I don't respect the popularity of this type of game - the ilk of Call of Duty and Battlefield are among the biggest-selling games of all time, and have by far the biggest following (bar MMOs such as World of Warcraft).

Unfortunately, the huge following of FPSs means that there is bound to be a higher percentage of stupid people that happen to be more vocal than the intelligent ones. These are what we refer to as “Fanboys”; those who swear alliegance to their chosen game, and who verbally crush those who dare to oppose it. One only needs to look at the official Facebook page for the upcoming Battlefield 3 to see a prime example of what I am talking about. Heck, I don't even need to scroll down very far to see some truly sad individuals. One person (who shall remain nameless) has written a post compelling his fellow BF fans to “[...] Spread the word of Battlefield 3 and all of Battlefield's games!!!” He continues by saying, “Together we can all take down Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Black Ops!!!!!” and finishes by saying “Long Live Battlefield!!!”

I mean, really?

You could be forgiven for thinking that I'm getting worked up over nothing here, but doesn't this annoy you in the slightest? I am aware of the fact that Call of Duty fans are just as bad, but therein lies the problem. It's not just online servers, it's the Internet itself that is the battlefield. Everywhere I go, I see people spraying vitriol at each other over which game is better or worse. I see enough of it in the sim racing community I am a part of (despite it being my hobby which I love dearly, I believe there is no community more ridden with elitism and snobbery than that of sim racing) – there is no escape from the wars of words that plague discussion forums, YouTube comment threads and Facebook groups.

And now it's leeching out into real life as well. The reason I was inspired to write this column is because a certain person I know very well has recently taken to charging into my room and venting to me about how CoD sucks and how CoD players also suck – not to mention the obligatory utterance that Battlefield is better. Whenever I have tried to apply logic and balance to the situation, using the tried and trusted “each to their own” philosophy, I have suddenly become the bad guy by suggesting that one is not superior to the other.
I suppose, as human beings, we just can't handle the fact that others have different tastes to us. “It's my way or the highway,” as they say. It's also a very real, and sad, fact that the most biased, negative and vitriolic of us are often the most vocal. As such, I don't feel a solution is at hand, or if such a solution will ever come about, so unique is the problem here. Still doesn't change my opinion – I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick and tired of this my-game-versus-your-game crap.

Then again, the Internet is where tolerance and common sense go to die. Is there no hope for people like me, who just want to enjoy whatever they do in peace?

Well, here I am.

So, Rhys has decided to start a blog. I have a lot of things in my life that just plain annoy me, in pretty much every area of life, and I need a place to vent. That's where the internet comes in. I'll be updating this pretty much every Friday, give or take a day or two, with something that really irks me.

Enjoy, or don't enjoy - your choice, it doesn't matter in the slightest to me.... but feel free to read on or comment if you wish.