For years, flight sim communities have had passionate debates about their areas of interest. This should come as no surprise to anyone who spent a little time in a flight sim related forum. But there’s something I don’t fully understand and I want to lay it out here: Why is it that some fans are so fixated on just one theater of operations within the World War II time-frame?
Dividing up fans
Something that has become clear to me over the years is that people like different things. It sounds like an obvious statement but really, I think a lot of people seem to understand the world through their own eyes only, and never really stop to consider the other possible viewpoints. It’s a hard thing to do. I’m going to do my best here but I may also be here with a bit of a sneaky agenda – maybe to change your mind a bit.
Something that is fairly clear for me is that interests vary on the types of combat flight sims people want to play and that there are some clear distinctions between three different categories: World War I, World War II and 1950s to modern day.
Someone who likes the fabric covered bi-planes of the 1914-18 period may have a specific appreciation for that vintage of aircraft and only want to fly that. I can get behind that.
The same goes for modern jets. From the 1950s on to the modern day there are some vast changes but the dawn of the jet age and the types of weapons and tactics are reasonably similar across this area of interest. The gun battles of World War I and II give way to guided missile duels at medium and long ranges and this changes things considerably. So does the systems where the jet age aircraft also tend to come with sophisticated sensors, electronic countermeasures and a mass jump in complexity. So reasons for liking or not liking these aircraft make sense to me.
What I question and what appears to be the case is that World War II flight sim fans seem to have a much more nuanced set of interests compared to the other two areas. Let me explain.
There are those out there who will only fly a Pacific, Mediterranean, West Europe or East Europe scenario. There are impassioned debates about which theater a flight should represent to the point where people say they only fly this one scenario and all others are terrible and should be avoided.
I understand that people have preferences but the extremity of the impassioned debate is interesting to me. It’s not something I fully understand.
I’ve said it before…
You may have read a variation of this from me before but I think it is worth paraphrasing and repeating.
I’m a huge fan of flight sims and in particular I love the ones that are set during World War II. This era of aircraft is extremely fascinating to me and in particular I love the transition between the earliest types of aviation technology right into the jet age. There is great variety while also being an era where the systems complexity haven’t yet reached a stage where you need to understand how to program your navigation computer or use the correct ECM setting to notch that missile heading to you.
World War II flight sims and indeed the real history of that conflict are an inflection point in the technology that civilization has used to fly. In a six year span nations used everything from fabric covered bi-planes to aluminum jet fighters and exotic rocket interceptors. Top speeds increased over these 6 years from 250 mph to nearly 600 mph.
Through all of this I find each and every setting of the conflict interesting. From flying over dense jungles, to barren steppes, to hedgerows, and open waters.
I’m immensely interested in World War II era aircraft of all types and from all nations. From Italy to Japan and Germany to Great Britain, Russia and the United States. I’ll fly any virtual airplane that the developers of IL-2, DCS and War Thunder can throw at me and I find it all supremely interesting knowing that in each case the developers have lovingly crafted and recreated these aircraft for my enjoyment and entertainment.
With all of that fantastic content already available and with so much more planned from all three of these companies over the coming years – why limit yourself to just one corner of this time period and this era of great technological leaps. My goal is to experience as much of it as you can and learn the different ways of flying and flying in combat that these aircraft and nations necessitated.
When games like IL-2 offer lovingly recreated aircraft with stunning levels of detail, it doesn’t matter to me if the next battle is over the Pacific or the endless flat terrain of the Khalkin Gol battle or another frozen steppe in central Russia. I’m interested because of the interest of World War II aviation. I just don’t understand limiting yourself otherwise.
But that’s just me. Everyone sees things from differing viewpoints.
What do you think?