The issue of simulation in car games is not a philosophical issue per se, but that doesn't stop us from philosophizing about it.
What is Simulation? What is Arcade?
The term Arcade is not in the RAE dictionary, the verb simulate is.
To simulate is to imitate...emulate...copy...to want to represent or to look like..
By definition then, every car game is basically a simulator, however, it will be its degree of "seriousness" and thoroughness that will determine whether it is called a simulator or an arcade.
What is debatable is that we always consider "rigorous simulation", perhaps it is that three or four spectators help us to return to the road as in RBR, or that we go on the public, and the screen acquires a reddish hue and we must restart ... or that we happen many setbacks, and that "the learning curve is slow" ...
Personally, I would prefer to abolish this bad habit of dividing games into simulators and arcades, simply because even the best of "Simulators" will always have a lot of arcade stuff, since "pure simulation" does not exist. -even the best Boing Simulator surely has an invisible line that separates the real from the purely simulated- although let's face it, in that particular case, that line must be so thin and transparent that it will surely be almost invisible.
Have an accident in any simulator and you only have to restart it in order to continue playing, in reality people are hospitalized..
From which we can isolate at least one big rule of thumb: in any simulator, the player's imagination is a large percentage of the equation.
It's a lie, then, to talk about "pure and hard simulation" because none is, except for the simulators of Boing, the armies of the 1st World, fighters... tanks... submarines, etc.
For pc, there is only something very inferior and simple, with which some usually take sides -in some cases even fanaticism- "that if rF2...that if rbr...that if iR that if P.Cars...that if Assetto...that if such other is Arcade".
Twenty years from now who knows what Dirt Rally will look like, today I see it as a combination of Simulation and Arcade, like RBR and all the others. If you step off the track in Assetto your car will be slowed down, that is copied from Grid Autosport and it is a VERY bad taste detail in my opinion, let's see if in a real race your car will be slowed down because you went off the track. And like that, absolutely all the Simulators have their Arcade details (let's clarify: one thing is to slow down because of lack of traction -that's realistic- and another thing is to lose power as "punishment" of the AI)
What do we leave to the Arcades (which are not usually 100%), perhaps only the "contempt" for being "inferior"?
It's bad a Dirt2/3 ...it's bad a WRC 3/4 ?? of course not..they are so Arcade actually, I don't think so.
They try to "simulate" everything in their own way, nobody wants to make a car game to be branded as arcade, but the terror of every game programmer is that two days before its release it becomes viral the "I had it in two hours"..
That's why every self-respecting programmer will try to create enough "difficulties" in the first place so that this doesn't happen. We see this very clearly both in RBR and in Dirt Rally, that's where I would emphasize in terms of simulator yes or no and the key would be represented by a simple question: "Perhaps, this game forces me to solve the setbacks in the same way I would do if it were a real car ?? there is "the kid" of the matter.
So for Dirt Rally's RAlly Cross, my answer is clearly a YES. In real life, I would do exactly what I do in the game, and the car in the game responds predictably to what I would do in reality.
That's what I call realistic simulation = Simulator.
But if the case is a Mini... a Fulvia etc in Wales, Greece etc... well there the answer is NO. In a real car you could go faster and safer, the car at 60k/m would still be totally predictable in its behavior, something that in Dirt Rally obviously doesn't happen. Aq We already have the combination of Simulation and Arcade in the same game, as well as in RBR in rF2...in Assetto and all those who have...
There's a contradiction between believing that a game is a simulator the slower its "learning curve", since what programmers generally use to slow down the learning curve are arcade traps, and not realistic difficulties.
Ex. real: if we invite a 3 pilot (or even a taxi driver) who has never played with anything, to play with any car simulator he will not be able to advance 50mts without some mishap and another and another, why?