Japan has always been one of the centers of online gaming and gaming addiction has always been a known problem. But the situation has recently gotten more serious as the number of Japanese seeking medical treatment is greatly increasing, with counseling services receiving requests for help from more than 300 gamers just this year.
One such story is that of a 19 year old vocational student who has found himself waking up one morning clutching his mobile phone. He has fallen asleep playing and has probably only slept for two hours. He then immediately gets up and starts playing again. He says that it all began just as a past time during commute to his middle school. But soon he was spending 80,000 yen ($1,017 U.S. dollars) a month, even spending a 100,000 yen ($1,271 U.S. dollars) New Years gift in just 10 days. His parents only became aware of his addiction when a bill amounting to 50,000 yen ($635 U.S. dollars) was mailed to their home.
This is just one story among the hundreds of young people severely addicted to online gaming. Futoko Shien Centre, which counsels truants, have received 327 consultation requests while Zenkoku Web Counseling Kyogikai, which provides Internet-related counseling services, reports receiving 150 such requests over the past three years. Alcohol addiction experts Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center has said that 70% of the 85 patients it has treated are male middle to high school students. In response to this worrying trend, the Consumer Affairs Agency has started to regulate online gaming in May and some online gaming services have prohibited underaged users from exceeding 5,000 yen ($63 U.S. dollars) a month in purchases.
[ via Asia News Net ]