Gamers in Vietnam are now able to earn a living playing online video games, according to local media reports.
Professional gamers are earning up to $160 a month, the Vietnam News Agency reported last week.
This is roughly equal to the average salary of a worker at a state-owned enterprise, and is more than four times the official minimum monthly wage for government employees.
Businessmen and others with more money than free time are paying gamers to play for them in order to boost the skills level and virtual bank balances of their online personas, the agency reported.
One unnamed company in Ho Chi Minh city provides this service by employing gamers in daily 11-hour shifts at a monthly salary of $103.
Following complaints that many Vietnamese teenagers have become addicted to online games, government regulations now limit gamers to a maximum of five hours online play per day.
However, Thanh Nien News reported last month that players are able easily to circumvent these restrictions with “tricks that can be found on game suppliers’ websites”.
Local officials are also becoming increasingly concerned about violence in online games.
“Authorities should revoke the licences issued for violent games to protect teenagers from addiction, especially those who cut class to play games,” Nguyen Van Khanh, chief of the Culture and Information Department Information Office, told Thanh Nien News.
“The most worrying thing is that the games can sow an admiration for weapons in their mind.”
Military service is compulsory in Vietnam, where teenagers are sometimes signed up as soon as they turn 18.