While it’s not as prominent reported in the media as it was in the past. Still, the issue of people who cannot leave their homes, referred to in the Japanese language as “hikikomori” continues. It’s a situation that grows worse when the parents who help them, get older and become unable to support them further.
One organization committed to finding ways to adjust the people in society is J.A.C.F.A., located in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Their task isn’t easy; as per J.A.C.F.A., around 80 percent of the people who reach them are parents of people with hikikomori instead of individuals themselves. Even in those instances, meetings are tough to arrange as some discussions occur at opposite ends of an open door.
It’s only natural to consider the issues at hand; J.A.C.F.A. took an alternative approach and established an initiative called the Fukuoka Virtual Support Room, also called “Room.” As you can see from the name, it is a support center that exists almost entirely within the metaverse-like system SecondLife and allows everyone to take on the avatar of their choice.
It was an entirely new venture, and the group wasn’t particular if people would be receptive or not. In the end, it was just a matter of time before hikikomori joined; however, J.A.C.F.A. was amazed by how well they could connect through a virtual alter ego.
The Test For Connecting With Hikikomori Was Extremely Successful!
In a test running of the Room on July 13, the Room held an “exchange gathering” with 20 staff members and hikikomori participants. The ordinarily shy people suddenly began engaging with staff in a friendly manner and were involved in self-introductions through names and games like quizzes. The young guests in the Room also spoke about their experiences, like “I could relax in a virtual avatar” and “I was able to communicate more than face-to-face people.”
Indeed, this is not a complete return to society. However, as a tool, the Room was not only a facilitator of the communication between support staff and Hikikomori but also increased the process. In opening the channels of communication, further work can be accomplished to get the people from their homes.
Education and training could also be conducted via Metaverse. The metaverse platform will assist J.A.C.F.A. in its objective of helping these people get employed so that they can be self-sufficient. Based on the outcomes of events like this, they hope to have a complete program ready by the end of the year.
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