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Abstract

As many professional motor racing drivers turn to Esports and online sim racing due to the worldwide coronavirus induced shutdown, Doc Emmett Brown’s 1985 description of the 21st century’s obsolescence of roads in the blockbuster movie Back to the Future has suddenly become more of a reality. So far, existing studies discussing esport’s compromised societal and sporting image have shown that the media play a sizeable role in maintaining and reinforcing negative representations of Esports, not least through a ‘lack of physicality’, ‘nerdiness’ and ‘technical mastery’ which subsequently further overt male hegemony and undermines the validity of both Esports and its users. A subsidiary of Esports, online sim racing is similarly affected as professional racing drivers that regularly participate in and advocate sim racing other than for occasional training or promotional purposes have long remained far and few between. Considering the recent influx of such drivers in online sim racing, this explorative contribution adopts a qualitative, inductive framing approach to study how and to what extent this event influences traditional representations of Esports and online sim racing by analyzing a sample of 1473 comments taken from the online forum of Autosport.com. Results indicate forum participants frame online sim racing predominantly in function of a necessity of realism, for either serious professional play or leisurely entertainment. In doing so, longstanding traditional stereotypes of online sim racing participants are negated. On the other hand, results indicate gender marginalization and implicit masculine hegemony continue.

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