Why Rocket League is the Best Game to Learn to Code
Rocket League is a great platform for teens to learn to code because it’s FREE, it’s engaging, and you can learn the most popular languages in depth.
Unlike some other games, Rocket League is FREE, which means that it’s easy to use the game to begin learning code. Many other games that offer modding come with a cost (e.g. Minecraft), and many free games don’t offer modding (e.g. Fortnite or VALORANT).
Engagement is the number one indicator of learning outcomes, and Rocket League holds attention. If the platform or game you’re looking at for learning to code is fun, learners will get more out of it. If it seems even SLIGHTLY boring, that will be magnified 100x when learners dig in. Pick a fun way to learn.
The most popular languages and frameworks can be taught with Rocket League. Scratch, Python, Node.js… almost any language can be applied to the game. In addition, you can learn about bots, web servers, and data science. Let’s unpack some of the ways that anyone can start learning to code RIGHT NOW through Rocket League.
DISCLAIMER: These ideas will not be “take a class on…” or “learn the theory of…” I’m an advocate of learning by doing because you shouldn’t ever have to ask, “why am I learning this?” Plus, at the end of building something meaningful, you’ll get a project for a portfolio that can actually land a job or a scholarship.
1. Learn to Code by Building a Bot That Plays Rocket League
Ever wondered if you can build a bot that plays Rocket League? Psyonix, the game’s developer, planned ahead and built a way for man-made bots to compete in-game! They don’t compete online, so it keeps things fair.
Building a Rocket League bot comes with all of the competitive benefits of gaming. Learners have plenty of competition to keep them engaged. And what’s more, it’s EASY to start, and provides a way to DEEPLY learn a coding language. As a software engineer myself, I can say that building a bot will teach everything one needs to know about a language. From there, learners are empowered to learn other platforms (like web APIs or automation engineering) without needing to worry about learning code syntax.
2. Learn to Code by Building Your Own Discord or Twitch bot
Building bots is fun, fast, and allows you to do all kinds of useful or funny things. No matter what platform you want to build a bot for, the free Skillquest Discord Bot tutorial will equip you with a web server (the computer that runs your bot) AND the knowledge of how to integrate with a service. Once you build your web server, here are a couple of ideas for a cool bot:
- A Twitch/Discord bot that notifies subscribers via DM when you go live
- A Discord bot that keeps your Discord clean by reducing duplicate channels, and creating new ones when needed
- A Discord bot that watches ballchasing.com’s data for your friends, and roasts them when they lose a match
Learning code is easier when you’re interested. Building something interesting makes it easier to:
- Stay motivated when you hit a roadblock
- Stay awake (rather than watching a bunch of videos on theory)
- Explore opportunities organically, learning outside the bounds
It also gives you something you’re proud of.
3. Learn to Code by Building a Stats Integration
Data from Rocket League is fun and easy to work with, and is a jumping-off point to learn. Ever thought about building yourself a player profile, like Rocket League Tracker Network has (but better)? How about ranking yourself amongst your friends, or people in your Discord server, on the stats that are most important (like demos)? You can start now by using public game data made available by ballchasing.com. I teach how to download and work with this data in Node.js in this FREE Quest.
Let’s take one example of what you might build, and talk about how to do it and what you’ll learn. Let’s say you want to drum up some friendly competition by comparing stats with your friends.
You could build a simple process using Node.js that looks at today’s games played by a list of friends and ranks them for a certain stat, like demos. Then you could take that process and make it a Discord bot command (as mentioned above, you can learn Discord bots on Skillquest as well). So we’ll have a Discord command that ranks a player amongst their friends’ for the day’s games – that sounds pretty cool!
Follow the free Skillquest tutorial on how to get stats from ballchasing using Node.js. It teaches how to use replit to quickly run/iterate your program, as well the coding mechanics necessary to make this integration. The steps will be:
- Create a list of friends you want to track
- Create a function that gets today’s games for a particular player
- Create a function that gets a game’s detailed stats
- For each game played by a friend, rank your friend by a stat in that game
- Print out a message that indicates the ranks (a numbered list with the player names and values would be easiest)
Again, if you follow the Node.js tutorial above, you should have the skills to start tackling this. Next, we’ll integrate it into a Discord bot.
- Create a Discord bot using the easy Skillquest framework
- Create a command for that bot
- Copy/paste your code you developed above into the Discord bot, so that it runs on command
EZ mode! Now you’ll have something fun, and to be honest, at this point you’ll have the skills to learn anything you need to about Rocket League data. Let’s talk about what you will have learned (but I’ll put these in terms you’d use on a resumé).
The learning outcomes
- Node.js fundamentals
- How to launch a web server
- Working with REST APIs
- Web service authentication
- Integrating web services (Discord specifically)
Despite the fact that this is a small project (probably spread out over a few days), those outcomes are enough to talk about in a hiring conversation for a software engineering job. And in the end, you’ll have proven to yourself that coding isn’t too scary. It just takes learning one step at a time.
Other Ideas to Learn Coding Skills with Rocket League
- Machine learning bot through RLGym
- Data science by downloading ballchasing.com data and using Python’s Pandas package
- Build yourself a website that features your Rocket League clips – you can do this with html and css, or with a no-code editor like Wix
Whatever you choose to do, just know that coding is not all about theory and logic. It is about building something interesting, and you (or your child, or your friend, or your grandma) can start now.