Photo: YouTube/特定非営利活動法人JACFA
tech

Fukuoka support group using metaverse to reach out to 'hikkikomori'

24 Comments
By SoraNews24

Although it’s not as much in the headlines as it used to be, the problem of people who refuse to leave the confines of their own home, known as hikkikomori, continues. It’s a problem that only gets worse with time too, as the parents who support them age and lose the ability to do so, or worse.

One group committed to finding ways to readjust these people to society is JACFA in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Their mission is not an easy one, however, and according to JACFA about 80 percent of people who contact them are the parents of hikkikomori rather than the people themselves. And even in those cases meetings are incredibly hard to set up, with some consultations taking place on opposite ends of a closed door.

It stands to reason, considering the issue at hand, so JACFA tried a different approach and set up the Fukuoka Virtual Support Room, known as “Room” for short. As you can tell by the name, this is a support center that exists virtually in the metaverse-like platform SecondLife, with everyone taking on an avatar of their choosing.

▼ A promotional video for the Fukuoka Virtual Support Room

It was a totally new undertaking, and the group wasn’t really sure if people would respond to it or not. However, not only did hikkikomori join, but JACFA was surprised by just how well they began to interact when using a virtual alter ego.

As a trial run of the Room, on 13 July, an “exchange meeting” was held and 20 staff and hikikomori virtually attended. Normally reclusive people were suddenly talking to staff voluntarily and engaged in self-introductions with nicknames and activities such as quizzes. The young guests to the Room also shared their impressions of it, such as “I could be relaxed as an avatar,” and “I was able to talk more than with people face-to-face.”

Granted, this is still a far cry from re-entering society, but as a tool the Room not only facilitated communication between support staff and hikkikomori, it accelerated it. By opening up the lines of communication, more work can be done to bring these people out of their homes.

Also, education and training can also be held on the Metaverse platform, assisting JACFA in their end goal of getting these people employment so they can become self-sufficient. Based on the results of trial events such as this, they hope to have a full program in place by next year.

Sources: Fukuoka PrefectureNishi Nippon Shimbun

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© SoraNews24

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24 Comments

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Great idea. I know a person who was a hikikomori and played online games all day and wouldn't come out of his room. He told me that the gaming community helped him come out of his shell and he is now a successful network engineer at one of the largest Japanese telcoms.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I also think it is a good idea.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It's a bit like offering an alcoholic beer instead of whiskey in the hopes it will help them kick their addiction.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Great to see ! I wish them well.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Agreed , great initiative....@dbsaiya -good story ,that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No, that’s a completely counterproductive ‘idea’. It will turn out as only a virtual and even problems triggering substitute. You have then not only to pull them out of their reality, the closed hikikomori room , but beforehand to pull them out of that virtual reality they are now additionally going to made addicted to.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It is interesting that the avatars have images which do not appear as people of traditional Japanese . . . .

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Great for the future when 50°C+ (122°F+) will be the norm and everyone must remain inside AC-pumped flats due to hostile outside enviroment. Deliveries will need to be automated too after the first wave of delivery drivers die from exposure to extreme heat.

Need to work on smell and taste though. A full body suit can mimic touch, sounds, and sights.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

JTSnose:

It is interesting that the avatars have images which do not appear as people of traditional Japanese . . . .

Japan has been exporting such avatars and characters for decades. I doubt there are many humans, let alone Japanese, with eyes the size of duck eggs, and green or blue hair.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It was a totally new undertaking, and the group wasn’t really sure if people would respond to it or not. However, not only did hikkikomori join, but JACFA was surprised by just how well they began to interact when using a virtual alter ego.

Very fortunate result that hopefully will help people in a situation that can ruin their whole lives without easy access to help.

No, that’s a completely counterproductive ‘idea’. It will turn out as only a virtual and even problems triggering substitute. 

What sources do you have for this personal belief? JACFA obviously have experience with people having this problem and they consider this a very positive development. Do you have the opinion of anybody that says this is not true and have some expertise in the topic?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What sources do you have for this personal belief? JACFA obviously have experience with people having this problem and they consider this a very positive development. Do you have the opinion of anybody that says this is not true and have some expertise in the topic?

They have the same zero expertise like me or you or anyone who’s not a hikikomori. If they had expertise, that problem wouldn’t be such a big one. But they obviously too haven’t and that’s why it is a big issue for years, growing and even to find in several age groups. So my opinion vs. others, nothing more nothing less, and I predict, that this attempt will turn out counterproductive as I wrote above.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They have the same zero expertise like me or you or anyone who’s not a hikikomori

That is completely illogical, there is perfectly valid expertise that is applicable even for people that have not suffered a condition, An obstetrician for example can be completely qualified even without children of his own.

If they had expertise, that problem wouldn’t be such a big one. 

This is even a less reasonable argument. Not being able to solve a problem is not always the consequence of not having any expertise about it, it can simply be because there is not the support necessary to do it.

So my opinion vs. others,

An opinion based only on ignoring completely the issue against the opinion of people that have dealt with it and are helping the patients. It is obvious who is more likely to be correct here, and it is not the person that has zero experience.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Great idea. I know a person who was a hikikomori and played online games all day and wouldn't come out of his room. He told me that the gaming community helped him come out of his shell and he is now a successful network engineer at one of the largest Japanese telcoms.

Congratulations to that guy. We don’t know that person’s (or others like him) story. I’m glad there’s a support and encouragement group for this. Best of luck to him.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have personally seen withdrawn kids come out of their shells thanks to friends made online. Some people, especially those still in their hometown, simply don't fit in with others around them. Online, they can find like minds and learn they are not alone. That builds confidence.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@virusrex

No, it’s in fact out of logic to discuss the success already now. It’s much better to discuss it again in ten or twenty years, by analysis and comparison of the statistical data of now and then, but of course considering a proportional decrease of young people and hikikomori due to less population. Not that you think you could convince me by presenting me then lower hikikomori numbers, although there are only less young people on average too. We will see then, not now, if the new concepts of your experts were significantly successful or not.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They have the same zero expertise like me or you or anyone who’s not a hikikomori

That is completely illogical, there is perfectly valid expertise that is applicable even for people that have not suffered a condition, An obstetrician for example can be completely qualified even without children of his own.

Completely illogical response to the hypothetical as it circumvents the premise of non-existence of expertise.

Sven AsaiToday  10:35 am JST

No, it’s in fact out of logic to discuss the success already now. It’s much better to discuss it again in ten or twenty years, by analysis and comparison of the statistical data of now and then, but of course considering a proportional decrease of young people and hikikomori due to less population. Not that you think you could convince me by presenting me then lower hikikomori numbers, although there are only less young people on average too. We will see then, not now, if the new concepts of your experts were significantly successful or not.

Exactly, and indisputable.

This idea in the article will warp the hikikomori view of reality even more.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No, it’s in fact out of logic to discuss the success already now

You are the one trying to do it, which means you agree with me and confirm that your original comment about the lack of success of the group to eradicate the problem is out of logic.

Once again, you are the one trying to demonstrate a group with a valid argument for expertise do not have it so your personal opinion should triumph over them. If you are unable to prove this that means they are a much better reference to know what is best for the patient than you, that have nothing to sustain your personal opinon.

So you can either document your authority and make it your argument or you can bring a source that say this group is wrong. If you can't do neither then they are much more likely to be right than just some nameless person on the internet.

Completely illogical response to the hypothetical as it circumvents the premise of non-existence of expertise.

A group that deals with the problem obviously have some expertise, assuming this is not the case would require some kind of proof, not just a bad argument about the problem still being present. A baseless premise is exactly the problem, without evidence it can be ignored.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nobody cares, what we nameless persons like you and me discuss here. As I said, the real data a few years or decades ahead in future will prove, nothing else.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nobody cares, what we nameless persons like you and me discuss here. 

So if nobody cares then it is fine to say wrong things?

The point is not that somebody cares, but that a group that has a valid appeal to expertise says something is likely to be a positive development then you contradicting them without any basis is not valid.

There is no need to wait for decades to see that the JACFA has a much more valid opinion about something they are working about, you have produced nothing that can sustain your personal belief this is a counterproductive idea, just that you want to think so. Which obviously is not an argument.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So if nobody cares then it is fine to say wrong things? 

Why would anyone ask this question, and what would be done with the answer, if there were one?

The point is not that somebody cares, but that a group that has a valid appeal to expertise says something is likely to be a positive development then you contradicting them without any basis is not valid. 

No, the point is nobody cares what is discussed here.

There is no need to wait for decades to see that the JACFA has a much more valid opinion about something they are working about, you have produced nothing that can sustain your personal belief this is a counterproductive idea, just that you want to think so. Which obviously is not an argument.

Do you have a peer reviewed study supporting your claim here? Otherwise, it is merely an unsubstantiated opinion.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why would anyone ask this question, and what would be done with the answer, if there were one?

To make evident the lack of logic of using the excuse that "nobody cares" the answer obviously proves this is an invalid position to take.

No, the point is nobody cares what is discussed here.

If nobody cared you would not be replying, so you disproved yourself by commenting.

Do you have a peer reviewed study supporting your claim here? 

What kind of peer reviewed study do you believe is necessary to prove an NGO working with a problem have a higher degree of expertise than someone unfamiliar with the problem and how is dealt?

You keep making the mistake of asking for reference against arguments that are sustained by logic. Can you formulate an argument that disprove your quote? if not then it is a valid position to take.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Granted, this is still a far cry from re-entering society, but as a tool the Room not only facilitated communication between support staff and hikkikomori, it accelerated it. By opening up the lines of communication, more work can be done to bring these people out of their homes.

Getting someone to go online versus getting that person to get out of their homes is quite a stretch.

To make evident the lack of logic of using the excuse that "nobody cares" the answer obviously proves this is an invalid position to take.

Just by saying something lacks logic does not make it lack logic; obvious to most people.

What kind of peer reviewed study do you believe is necessary to prove an NGO working with a problem have a higher degree of expertise than someone unfamiliar with the problem and how is dealt?

In other words, you have no source, no evidence, and no substantiated facts underlying your "claim".

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think a main cause of hikkikomori may be prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, meaning you cannot recognize emotions in people's faces. A good thing about this game is it allows interaction without requiring reading facial expressions.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just by saying something lacks logic does not make it lack logic; obvious to most people.

Since there is no valid affirmative answer for the question then it is demonstrated as such, you have argumented nothing to support how this siuation can have a valid justification.

In other words, you have no source, no evidence, and no substantiated facts underlying your "claim".

That would be in wrong words. You were even unable to answer what kind of reference would be appropiate for this, which means you understand a logical argument do not require any reference. Seeing that you were also unable to formulate an argument against it that means you also understand it holds itself as valid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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