There’s nothing to do.
I can’t find anything physical to do, there’s always a screen in the way. Things have gotten so bad that I’m filling old broken buckets with dirt and attempting to grow things in there. Couldn’t give a shit what, anything will do, as long as I can spend 10-12 hours a day watching the leaves sprout.
It’s not that I’ve stopped enjoying video games.
I work with screens, stand staring at them for 8 hours a day. I ended up spending most of the remaining hours on games and videos, and now my eyes hurt like someone is using them as an ash tray. I have just 1 good eye anyway, and with the pain in the past few weeks I’ve felt as blind as a bat, surprised people haven’t murdered me for spreading Corona.
Then a few days ago a friend asked me if I wanted to review the latest MotoGP20 game, and get it for free in the process.
As you may have understood from the title, I of course did. Why, you may ask, did I put myself through the pain and suffering? Well, I obviously take this website and my job as an entertainer very seriously, demonstrated amply by the sheer number of articles I pump out every month.
The show, as they say, must go on.
I wrote the review on his site, you can read it here if you like. On RZ I actually wanted to explore the actual value of MotoGP20, if any. The simple question I want answered is:
Can playing a game actually improve your riding?
I think the answer is Yes, but it’s not that simple.
The most important way in which I think MotoGP20 is useful, is that it can help you learn a track before you actually ride it. Imagine a glorious future, where you spend some money, time, and effort to do a trackday at Silverstone or Jerez or Chang. You can save yourself a whole lot of track learning time by using the game.
Of course the game can’t tell you how the surface actually feels, with your bike and your tires especially, but it can help you create that map inside your head that slowly allows you to set your markers by instinct. When you show up at the track, you aren’t dumb like Columbus, looking for India in America.
If, on the other extreme, you are a beginner with motorcycles, I have always felt that such games still help immensely. Motorcycles are not very intuitive machines, you have to do some strange things to get them to obey.
Although a game can’t obviously teach you the nuances of counter-steering or how to handle a rear tire slide, the game can let you get a crude feel for the bike, understand its dynamics.
If only there was a button to put your foot down when stopped.
The Lack of Feel
The main problem I see with this approach however, is the controller. I have a Logitech G29 setup for car sim racing, it has a steering, gear stick, and pedals. Someone could genuinely learn how to drive a car on it. But it’s impossible to say the same for motorcycles.
You play MotoGP20 with a controller, I have an Xbox one, but basically anything with 2 or 3 axis/trigger buttons will do. That’s important because the throttle and brake can’t just be on/off functions, which is why the game is unplayable with a keyboard. You have to be gradual with the throttle, and the brake requires far more finesse.
But being able to precisely move your fingers has no connection to how a real motorcycle is ridden.
There is no simulator setup for bikes, at least nothing that’s as easily or cheaply available as for cars. It is quite obvious why, any motorcycle sim setup will, by default, need to be a motion rig, with ability to lean left and right at least, if also not up and down. That can’t be cheap.
So for beginners, MotoGP20 can be nothing more than entertainment. Unless you already know how it feels to ride a motorcycle, you can’t translate that knowledge into controller inputs, and you can’t gain any experience out either.
Is the game good enough for just passing lockdown though? Absolutely, yes.
MotoGP20 is a difficult game, frustratingly so in some ways. To be as close to realism as possible, you will have to turn off the Rewind function, since Rossi has never been known to reverse time after a crash to correct his mistake. But if you turn Rewind off, you can’t make a single mistake.
And that’s difficult to do, especially in braking. This is a problem for Milestone to solve, but there’s almost no feedback from the front brake. One moment you’re leaned over and trail braking, the next moment you’re in the gravel.
Obviously the dumb piece of plastic that is the controller is to partly blame here, but Milestone could’ve done better with their coding.
Because of this, rage-quitting can very quickly become your default way to end a session, and that’s just not very helpful. The entire reason you want to play a game right now is to take your mind off your impending suffering and death. When the game itself becomes a nightmare, something is wrong.
But I’d still say you should try MotoGP20, when it’s on sale. Who knows you may be better at it than I am, and you may be able to make that delicate connection that helps you be immersed into the experience. I have not until now, but I’ll keep trying, as soon as my eyes stop hurting like a motherfucker.