I’ve maintained for some time that a flight sim fan is a different kind of gaming fan than your average gamer. Gamers are a diverse group and so it would be unwise to generalize too much. That said, I think its important to recognize that our flight sim community has a few special features that you may not find too many other places.
This is one that I really love and one that I’ve seen in more than a few places. Getting into flight simming, especially the kinds of games that I normally talk about such as DCS, IL-2, Faclon, and others require expensive computers and input devices (like joysticks) and they feature software that can also be fairly pricey.
Buying all of the DCS modules at full price for example is a pricey proposition. Likewise with Rise of Flight or IL-2.
For those with very limited budgets it can be difficult to keep up, to buy the planes you want or access to the scenario you really want to be a part of. In some cases it isn’t the price but the access with sometimes slow or unreliable internet being a barrier. This is where a generous community comes in.
I’ve seen community members offer to package large patch files from IL-2 1946 onto a DVD and send it half a country away. I’ve seen Rise of Flight, IL-2, and DCS community members gift access keys to others in the community. I myself experienced some generosity as a Rise of Flight community member offered me (quite out of the blue) the Channel Map plus a couple of aircraft to get me started.
Recently I’ve seen community members celebrate the announcement of the Battle of Kuban by gifting Collector Aircraft and even the standard edition Battle of Stalingrad to a lucky community member.
Community members have also been helpful taking new pilots up in multiplayer scenarios with voice communications to teach them the basics. I’ve seen community members helping to solve difficult technical problems sometimes spending hours trying to help out fellow pilots. Its a kind of generosity that is impressive to watch and be a part of (and sometimes pay forward).
There is a passion towards the aircraft, the technical details, or picking on the historical accuracy can take on a level of passion that you don’t always see in other gaming communities. Sometimes it is mistaken for hostility (though sometimes it can be) but other times it is purely from the passion of the interest and the built up knowledge of years or decades worth of knowledge.
Being able to point to the sky and say “that’s a Spitfire LF.IXe and I know that because of the placement of the cannons on the wings, the air filter, and the late model tail section” is just a small sample of the kind of knowledge that we have. Others know inservice dates for engine modifications, atmospheres of pressure, and other technical minutiae.
For a newcomer it can be daunting but a nuanced look at the community is one that is filled with passion. Getting over that initial hurdle can be difficult but once there, you become part of a group with immense collective knowledge.
I already covered this in the Passion section but we know a lot about the subject matter and it goes beyond just the simulation itself. Because its a real thing that we’re simulating we have real and virtual pilots, mechanics, academics, and enthusiasts that can all bring their knowledge to the table.
There are hundreds of thousands of books on the subjects that we’re interested in and there are first hand historical documents and technical details that we can pour over for information.
We probably know too much!
None of this is to say that other gaming communities don’t display the kinds of dedicated know-how, passion and knowledge that the flight sim one does but we do bring a unique combination of the table. Mashing technical and historical with modern gaming PCs and all of our extra equipment, joysticks, HOTAS and custom input panels is something a little extra that you just don’t see everyday.
And that’s ok!