Many of Japan’s gaming addicts are now choosing to live as ‘Hikikomori’

Hikikomori, as defined by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, refers to individuals who reject leaving their parental home, abstain from work or school, and isolate themselves in one room for over six months. Around 500,000 Japanese youth and a similar number of middle-aged adults are estimated to be living as social recluses.

Japan’s gaming addiction has been added to the W.H.O list of diseases

The International Classification of Diseases, a comprehensive guide by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that outlines disease names, symptoms, and categories, has undergone its first update in 28 years. Among the changes, the revised version introduces gaming disorder as a form of disorder stemming from behavioral addiction.

Authorities have tried to introduce restrictions

Japanese authorities do recognise the problem and have tried to intervene. Japan launched a much-debated 2020 local ordinance that banned under-18s from playing more than an hour on weekdays. This ultimately had little effect as the ordinance had no enforcement mechanism, leaving the responsibility of monitoring up to the parents.

Other Asian countries are taking conflicting actions

China made headlines in 2022 by addressing youth gaming addiction through a strategy that restricts children’s online gaming to a designated three-hour period each week. This approach is enforced using facial recognition technology and ID registration. On the contrary, South Korea took a different stance, lifting a ten-year prohibition on PC-based online gaming for children under 16 during the hours of midnight to 6:00 am.

A media company has launched ‘social interaction’ DVDs for addicts

Avex Group, a Japanese CD and DVD manufacturer, creates DVDs featuring real-life women engaging in sustained eye contact with a camera. These DVDs aim to assist gaming addicts in developing the ability to manage eye contact and extended human interaction, with the overarching objective of enabling them to voluntarily re-enter normal society.

Smartphones and the pandemic have seen addiction cases rise

The surge in smartphone usage and the impact of the global pandemic have contributed to a notable surge in addiction instances. In 2021, a study done by Nozoe General Psychiatric Hospital in Fukuoka showed that out of 248 patients aged 18 or younger hospitalized due to bullying or abuse, 26% displayed indications of gaming addiction. This reflects an 18 percentage increase from five years previous.

Gamers can get speciality chiropractors to ease their sore muscles

Due to extended gaming sessions and poor posture, gamers often experience muscle soreness and tense shoulders. Spending too much time hunched over screens can lead to discomfort in the neck, back, and wrist. To address this, Japanese gaming company Bauhütte offers specialized Gaming Chiropractic treatments, providing relief from post-gaming muscle strain and discomfort.

Video game advertisement fueled addiction debate

In September 2021, critics expressed concerns about an advertisement that they believe glorifies and potentially promotes video game addiction. The advertisement under scrutiny promotes the online role-playing game Lost Ark, designed for PCs. Since its appearance on YouTube, the ad has garnered millions views, further fueling the debate.

It is having a massive impact on Japan’s elderly

Initially identified in the 1990s, the hikikomori phenomenon was primarily linked to younger individuals. However, after three decades, Japan confronts a fresh predicament termed the 8050 Problem. This refers to the challenge of elderly parents in their 80s co-habitating with and providing for hikikomori children in their 50s.

To get Japan’s youth back into the classroom, a dedicated e-sports school has opened

Named “Esports Koutou Gakuin,” (Esports High School), this educational institution is financially supported by the esports sectors of NTT, a Japanese telecommunications firm, and Tokyo Verdy, a professional soccer team. The school, staffed by professional esports players and managerial personnel from both Verdy and NTT, opened in 2022.