During a mostly remote semester, UNC students have used an online vehicular soccer game called Rocket League as a way to make friends in times of isolation.
The UNC Rocket League Club is a subdivision of the Carolina Esports club that participates in competitions through the Collegiate Rocket League once a semester.
Alex Ho, the UNC Rocket League Club Officer, said these events are competitive but provide an opportunity for gamers to join as a team and create long-lasting friendships.
Even though the competition is only hosted once per semester, Ho said there are other opportunities for club members to compete — such as weekly competitions.
But competition isn’t the club’s only focus. Ho said his main goal is creating a welcoming and understanding community of various players.
“I think a lot of students hear ‘Esports’ or ‘club’ and think we’re super competitive, which some of us are, but really we’re just a group who likes to hang out and play Rocket League,” he said.
Senior computer science major Will Lancaster said he loved his time as a club member, and he joined to make friends with similar interests. Lancaster said he stayed because he enjoyed getting exposure to a higher level of play from other club members.
As social restrictions are reduced, Ho said the club expanded to hold more in-person events for members.
“We’re just a group of guys who enjoy playing Rocket League,” Ho said. “It’s been really cool to see this community grow and meet each other in person at dinners or other events.”
As more events are added and the current league season continues, the UNC Rocket League Club still allows new members to join.
Jason Hu, a junior computer science major, said you don’t have to be an expert to join. There are members of all levels who participate.
“Everyone in the club is pretty chill and we can hit balls with cars together,” he said. “You don't have to worry about how much experience you have in the game, we're all more friends than just Rocket League teammates.”
And joining the club is simple. All students have to do is join the Discord channel. If they want an in-person introduction to the club, students can attend GameFest, which is an event held every semester by the Carolina Esports club.
Lancaster said he encourages everyone interested in the game to join the club.
“Being a member is a lot of fun,” he said. “It's something you wouldn't exactly expect from joining a mostly online group, but the people of the club have really been able to bond over a common game that we all play.”
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