According to Highlander Gaming Club Vice President, Ethan Vuong, “Community, Sportsmanship, and Social Inclusion” characterize UCR’s Highlander Gaming Club’s goals and priorities.
Formed in 2012, Highlander Gaming rapidly expanded their community, amassing to over 3,800 members and 1,000 daily active members in their discord. Given the recent pandemic, Highlander Gaming had grown slightly inactive in the past few years. Being a relatively new organization, HLG’s funding is considered to be lacking, even now. Despite these odds, Highlander Gaming has proven to accomplish plenty and uphold an accepting and friendly community of gamers with hopes to reach even further, evident in one of their largest events, HighlanderCon.
Last year’s HighlanderCon, a large cross-campus LAN party, was the first since 2019. The convention attracted a crowd of roughly 1300 and participants were welcomed with numerous tournaments, a professional panel, and activities ranging from a 150+ man bracket “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” tournament to an “osu!” room.
This year, “HighlanderCon: Undercity” took place on October 29 and featured tournaments for “Rocket League”, “Overwatch 2”, “League of Legends”, and “Valorant”. HighlanderCon: Undercity also had a Professional Career Building Panel with panelists Yugina Yun from Gen.G, Christine Fan from MSI, and Arvel Reeves from Razer. Head of Media Wendy Han, a second year Business Major, hopes this provides attendees with opportunities to gain insight on the gaming industry and help them jumpstart their careers.
For those wanting to test out a new game, HighlanderCon also provided a Free Play Room. Obadiah Cole, a first year Graphic Design Major, stated “I was able to meet new people and gain insight on PC Gaming. I tried Eternal Return and Valorant for the first time which were learning curves but overall, I had a great experience. The people here provided a very welcoming and friendly environment.”
Additionally, this HighlanderCon featured small business vendors who sold art, posters, pins, etc. in an artist alley to help them gain traction. Artist Naomi Ventura of the store “Moonshine Charms” considers this artist alley to be a great opportunity for small and big artists alike to showcase their work while also connecting with new people and putting their name out, further growing their business.
In collaboration with their partnerships with MSI, ZOTAC, Sceptre, and Gamdias, HighlanderCon gave away numerous keyboards, monitors, mouse pads, mics, desks, and other gaming equipment throughout the day. “This HighlanderCon definitely has a larger giveaway pool because of their sponsors. It’s also nice to have information panels to learn about those sponsors and connect to the companies directly,” stated fifth year Music Composition Major Reagan Benham.
Winners of the “Overwatch 2” tournament Daniel Lee and Ali Shaubzada from UCSD describe this HighlanderCon to have a more personal, social, and passionate environment compared to other large LAN parties they have attended.
Although Highlander Gaming hosted a successful event, there’s still work to be done. HLG continues to expand even further, with hopes to branch out and connect with gaming communities at other UCs, Cal States and community colleges within California. Highlander Gaming plans to collaborate further with Corsair, MSI, Razer, Gen.G, Red Bull and Gamdias. They also intend to gain more recognition and support from UCR so that they can build an e-sports arena for UCR students to engage and play games on an even more accessible level.
The organization maintains weekly Round One socials, movie nights, board game nights, and inhouses events to allow a bridge between their e-sports teams and relaxed members, strengthening the HLG community. Workshops and career panels are also consistently hosted to guide members into career opportunities in the gaming industry.
For VP Ethan Vuong and MSI ambassador Wendy Han, the big picture is to continue broadening HLG’s network of gamers, financially support and amplify members aspiring to have a career in the gaming industry, and serve as a voice for those who want to do more in gaming. They want HLG to be a place for everyone, regardless of your ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc., to meet new friends and embrace the gamer side of yourself.