Do you drive automatic or manual?

Ever since I’ve progressed from NFS type arcade racers to sim or simlites, I’ve gravitated towards wanting to shift manually, even though IRL I have never driven manually, beyond a couple of lessons when I was first learning to drive. It makes me feel like I have a more interesting relationship with the car and the road, and to my perception, seems to help my times.

It seems like no coincidence that games like Grid, which drowned out the sound of your engine (which made it hard to know when you needed to shift), or featured cars that needed too many speed jumps (open wheel) aren’t as interesting to me as low speed racing, like offroad, rally, and classic car racing.

I’ve also noticed that a wheel is essential to my long term enjoyment… while I can drive on a gamepad, the lack of fine control is secondary to the fact I can’t quite shift comfortably without paddle shifters, and without manual shifting, I bore quickly.

Just lately on Dirt2’s info page as you boot the game, they had the snippet “A well timed manual gear shift might only save you a tenth of a second… makes you wonder why people bother”. I guess to me it really is less about perfomance and more about feel, but is this really accurate?

…and how many times do you shift gears over the course of a race? Those tenths of a second will add up.

That said, the way I play racing games, they’re just statistical noise for me :)

I still use automatic since I haven’t gotten over that initial hump where you initially perform a lot worse because you’re not used to using it before you get better, and I’ve been playing racing games too infrequently to spend most of my time when I do so fighting that hump.

I’d like to set aside some time and finally get over it and get used to manual, but I’d like to do a lot of things…

I have a simple Momo Force so I just use the paddle shifters. I’d like to get a better wheel and shifter soon. With a gamepad and an arcade racer I would stick with automatic until I really got into it. Or would if I played more than a few arcade racer demos in the last decade.

The type of vehicles I drive in racing games only have jet engines or antigravity propulsion. So um, automatic I guess.

Automatic, i am a very casual gamer in this genre.


I’d like to set aside some time and finally get over it and get used to manual, but I’d like to do a lot of things…

But not this. I like my current racing game quotient as it is. :) Also, I don’t believe it would be any fun since the real-life cues (vibration, accurate rev noise vs. feel of gravity telling you you’re running out of steam in the given gear) would be missing. Shifting from purely watching the revs doesn’t seem fun.

IRL though, manual.

I like the games that let you shift gears while in automatic. That way, if I’m on a straightaway without much to do, I can shift my attention to the gears, but I don’t get screwed if I get distracted before a turn or whatever.

The Burnout games don’t have the option, and the Project Gotham games are maddening enough without worrying about shift points. Gran Turismo 2 convinced me I want nothing to do with “realistic” driving games.

But I enjoyed my time driving manual-shift cars during the first 10 years of my driving life.

Should have included wheel and gamepad subgroups in the poll too. I think people would find that manual is less chaotic when using a force feedback wheel. The UI and game type makes a difference too, like spiffy mentioned with engine sounds.

There could be an auto clutch option as well. Since I don’t have that pedal I obviously don’t have to deal with that, but would like to for street car type racing sims.

To my knowledge, Assegai Developments doesn’t offer a craft with a manual transmission, so I chose automatic. I do prefer two air brakes to one, though.

Manual is the way to go, although I usually like to practice in automatic if it’s a new racing game I’m not familiar with (like Dirt 2).

Automatic, though I drive stick in real life.

I also prefer games where you can pick stuff up by running over it instead of pressing the “pick up” button.

In both real life and racing games I’ll always go with manual transmission, and for the same reason: I like having more control over what my vehicle is doing. This makes car shopping kind of irritating, since manual isn’t even an option on a lot of vehicles these days.

Wheel = manual
Controler = automatic
RL = automatic because of commute but prefer manual

Almost always manual even when the game is terrible with manual. I wish my RL truck were manual as well.

Manual if I’m using the wheel controller , automatic if I’m using the regular controller.

Automatic with a controller. If I had a wheel and shifter I’d drive manual though (it’s my preferred driving method in the real world).

Paddle shifter just doesn’t give me a good feeling. I would prefer stick shift and a clutch but I’m not willing to spend that much extra money for more peripheral devices. I just have the MS Wheel.

Always manual but I’ll generally switch to what the car uses - doesn’t make much sense to use the stick rather than the paddle for an F1 car. For some games and particularly historic car games like GTL/P&G/Historix, both the muscle motion and the games interpretation of clutch/stick shift is different to driving with paddles. Once you adapt to it, it’s much easier to drive if you can stick the car in neutral or skip gears without having to think too much about it in advance.