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Op-Ed: What Happened to the Flight Sim Community?


What Happened to the Flight Sim Community?

By MrYorkiesWorld


Hello there everyone, my name is MrYorkiesWorld, and today's article is actually going to be one that I've been meaning to write for a very long time. It has a special place in my heart purely because of my connection with the flight sim community, and the YouTube community in general which I've seen develop in many different ways over the last decade.


The flight sim community has always been a very close one. We have always gone above and beyond to support one another and have always worked together to make the platform our own.


One thing I have admired is the longevity of our style of content. We teach people to fly virtual planes, which goes a lot further than simulation - it also helps people train for the real world if they wish to do so. Endless amounts of people out there turn to flight simulation to learn the basics of how to fly an aircraft, and although a computer can only teach you so much, the platform we have is one of the best available.


In this article, I'm going to talk about my own experiences and opinions of where we are today in the world of flight simulation, and also how we got here, and how we need to weed out an ever-growing problem that seems to have emerged quite recently following the announcement, and subsequent release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.


For those of you who are easily offended, please turn away - I intend to be very honest and brutal throughout!


Who Are You to Be Having an Opinion?

When it comes to YouTube, I've been around for almost 11 years making actual content. I first started creating YouTube videos back in 2010 on a different, and unrelated subject to flight simulation, and so I've seen all of the changes, big and small, that YouTube has faced in the last decade. This includes the legendary "star rating" system which was superseded by the thumbs up and down system a number of years ago, plus many other changes that have occurred on the platform.


Having reached an audience numbered in the thousands (including subscribers), I know what it's like to be part of the YouTube community.


In March 2014 I began making flight simulation videos on YouTube, which is where the MrYorkiesWorld channel was born. However, my history in actually using flight simulators and contributing to the flight-sim community dates back to around 2006 when I first started using the platform. I'd often speak to the community, advise people and also ask my own flight-sim related support questions. This was a passion and a pastime that would continue to grow until this day.


Over the years, I have successfully helped thousands of people in the YouTube community, either by troubleshooting simulator related problems, or general computer issues. I've learned the basics of flying complex aircraft inside of the sim and even contributed one or two of my own creations to the community as well. I have watched in awe as creators such as Chewwy94 and Matt Davies created content which allowed me to learn more and more about the flight simulation platforms that we all know and love today.


I am probably one of only a few flight simulation enthusiasts in the community who creates content the way that I do. In other words...I ignore a lot of the usual flight rules, and just have fun. I find that my style of content (one that throws away the rule book and simply focusses on getting from A to B whilst checking out the awesome in-sim surroundings) works really well for me, and it's something I've been passionate about for a long time.


Something's Wrong in the Community

Over the years I have watched how people react when new simulators or add-ons are released, but I have never seen anything like how it is today. It seems as if there is something in the air within the flight sim community (no pun intended) - some kind of turbulence that has caused quite a few of us all to become very agitated, angry and down-right aggressive towards each other as of late.


The amount of comments that I've read from people asking genuine questions related to the new simulator, and then being met with insults and hate comments from the community is simply ridiculous!


One example of the hate I'm talking about was when I recently created a video on my channel showing off a new livery pack created by a user in the community. I was immediately attacked by numerous users for apparently "failing" to mention the creator in my video when clearly a link was put in the description along with all the necessary information linking the liveries to them.


What annoyed me the most was that anyone with half a brain cell would simply click the link and then immediately be presented with all the information needed; either this or simply read the video description! However, according to some of the comments I received, I was expected to essentially run an ad campaign for them in my video. It seems people are too lazy to read video descriptions these days.


The community has also become very greedy - desperate for fame and to have their opinions forced upon others, and God help you if you try to voice your own opinion on any of it, or try to fight back - although it is unfortunately the same in the real world - nobody can say or do anything these days for fear of upsetting someone. I like to refer to these people as "snowflakes".


Too many people are creating "Discord" servers and hosting their files on other strange and potentially unsafe or unstable web sites that are difficult to navigate around. That's why I make it simple - my web site in particular has the name of the files that people need, such as config files, settings, spreadsheets etc... along with a "Download" button next to them. There are none of these silly servers or hoops to go through, as all they do is make it more challenging for the community to contribute, which leads to the frustration and bad attitudes I'm talking about. When you want to find something, you want it to be right there in front of you, ready to download and install in seconds.


Posting a question in a forum asking for help is a huge challenge these days. Users have to submit things in a certain template or in a certain format - gone are the days of simply answering a question that you clearly took the time to read. Nowadays, people seem to take the time to read a question, only to tell the author to change the way they asked it slightly so that it looks a certain way, instead of just giving them the answer they should have in the first place.


My favourite scenario is when people tell you to use a search engine - they have clearly taken the time to click on the question you've asked, only to write an unhelpful instruction to search elsewhere. Why didn't they just answer the question? Many people find it tedious to fish through endless realms of search results. Gone are the days of providing a simple answer to a simple question.


I've had numerous people, close friends of mine in the flight sim community, actually mention to me how the toxic and complicated atmosphere in our community is making them less interested in flight simulation as a hobby. It makes them not want to post any content or ask any questions for fear of offending people, or simply being rejected and ridiculed by the community overall.


Where It All Went Wrong

It's difficult to say where things went wrong, but personally the blame (to a degree) is due to how the world is at present. Everyone is frustrated due to the impact of Coronavirus, and many people have been forced to work (staring at the same four walls hour on end), and I think it's starting to take its toll.


Things seemed to get out of hand around the time Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 was announced, and subsequently got even worse after it was released. People immediately started slating Microsoft and Asobo for tiny things such as scenery glitches, missing buildings, problems with aircraft etc... but failed to see the bigger picture.


In my opinion, many people simply weren't able to see the fact that we had an amazing new platform to explore and enjoy - one which was far more feature-rich and advanced than what we had ever seen before (especially out of the box).


Yes, there were omissions, but that meant the community could create additional content (much like the X-Plane community with the Gateway). On top of this, third-party developers have also jumped onboard and started supporting the new sim, but many people are still far too impatient to actually wait for the results. This is where and how I think it all went wrong - people are just too impatient and too stressed out at the minute, but that is simply no excuse for some of the behaviour we see.


There are many individuals who are simply unable to look past the imperfections, and are unable to see that the small "issues" that are currently present in the new sim are all to be expected, all predicted, and are perfectly normal.


This is a new platform - new platforms have these sorts of issues, but for some reason the community has lost their ability to see past this - they assume that Microsoft and Asobo should have released a problem-free, perfect sim right from the start. They don't understand the basic concept that the true test of any simulator lies in the art of giving it to the community and using them for feedback (surely the ultimate resource).


In many simulators such as FSX for example, we had an abundance of issues that only really started to get under control after the second major patch was released...and still to this day, there are still issues with it.


With the X-Plane community, they have a sim which is evolving all the time, one which is in a constant change of flux, but do you hear them moaning and groaning? No! If you look at X-Plane.Org, you'll see that they all work together to create something special...a community.


If you consider the fact that Flight Simulator 2020 is massively more detailed and complex than FSX, you can sort of realise why so many more bugs and issues have been discovered. The more content and features there are, the more chance there will be issues - this is the same on any simulator, any game and to a degree...any sort of software regardless of what it might be.


The Brighter Side of Things

There's always a brighter side to these sorts of stories, and I'm happy to say that despite this minority of people trying to essentially ruin it for us all, there is still a really good community there for flight simmers. Plenty of users just like myself are still hovering around somewhere on the internet, especially on long-established web sites such as FlightSim.Com, and continue to contribute in a good, positive and respectful way.


There are still people out there who will answer questions with a real answer and not pass it to somewhere else, and plenty of people value and respect each other enough not to demand to be in the spotlight every time someone uses your product or creation in their videos.


It makes me happy to know what underneath this thin blanket of dust, there is still a good community there. The majority of us still help each other out without expecting things in return, and we go out of our way to support each other no matter how "silly" the question might seem to some.


Slowly but surely, we will bring back our community, and what a beautiful time to do it when we've just been blessed with a simulator as amazing and revolutionary as Microsoft Flight Simulator.


The Future of the Community

The future of our community very much relies on people actually coming together and sharing their own ideas and experiences of flight simulation. By doing this, we will become stronger, bigger and most importantly of all...better. This in turn benefits everyone...which is surely what we all want.


Despite what I've said about the negatives, I really do believe that we can come together and repair ourselves. Think about it...we all share the same passion...the same desire to jump into an aircraft and explore the virtual world on offer (no matter what simulator it is).


If we can just remember that behind every sentence typed, there is a real living person, then I think we're off to a good start!


We will once again...be as strong as we used to be!


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