Personal growth through video games is possible in many different ways, and Ukatsu employee Austin Kent said nowadays, with Internet gaming and more social acceptance of games, sportsmanlike behavior and positive experiences with others are more important than ever.
That’s where Ukatsu comes in. Co-founded by Joe Chee and Ben Brooks, Ukatsu is a video game training organization dedicated to improving the technical abilities and interpersonal skills among gaming youths.
From behind a computer screen or a gaming console, youths can easily slip into poor behavior such as “trash talking” or online bullying, and Ukatsu’s staff aim to recognize and correct that behavior among their students. In addition, Ukatsu teaches and reinforces positive behavior and skills through the games with emphasis on the values of consistent hard work and dedication, practice, the importance of losing/humility, and cooperative teamwork, Chee said.
Ukatsu is small but growing, and co-founders Chee and Brooks are optimistic about its future. Founded this year, Ukatsu has limited funds and recognition, but has recently purchased its own facilities in Columbia, Mo., Chee said. This will allow it to host many more events. According to Chee, a handbook, training program, and official human resources recruitment procedure are being developed, and the company will need more employees with the same work ethic and core values as Ukatsu’s current staff. When the company has set up most of its logistics it will focus on improving publicity, and advertise itself to potential sponsors, Kent said.
“Ukatsu is currently seeking local sponsorship for our CPS eSports program, as well as national brands for the company itself,” Chee said.
The response from the students’ parents has, so far, been positive. Students at Ukatsu are given personal logs to fill out, detailing their experience and personal growth, and the program is a chance to socialize with other kids, Kent said. This can be essential for kids with stunted interpersonal skills or those from troubled households. For some kids, online gaming is their primary social interaction with other people and bad habits can develop easily. Parents were also surprised and impressed by Ukatsu’s staff’s dedication to the high school eSports scene, Chee said.
Already, Ukatsu has put itself on the map by hosting its first eSports high school event on September 8, pitting two teams of League of Legends players from Rockbridge High School and Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo., and they plan many more such events in the future, including another League of Legends event on October 10, where teams from Hickman High School and Battle High School will compete.