Tencent deploying facial recognition to stop children gaming at night in China

Internet and gaming giant Tencent has decided to take extreme measures to prevent those under 18 from playing games late into the night in China. The company is using a facial recognition system on its platform to identify players and prevent them circumnavigating existing controls by using adult accounts.

According to sixthtone.com the new system goes into action today. The facial recognition technology will be linked with a public identity database to ensure accuracy. With the aim to prevent minors from playing games during the curfew hours of 10pm to 8am.

“We will conduct a face screening for accounts registered with real names and that have played for a certain period of time at night,” Tencent Games said Tuesday. “Anyone who refuses or fails the face verification will be treated as a minor, and as outlined in the anti-addiction supervision of Tencent’s game health system, and kicked offline.”

Of course it’s very hard to imagine such a system being allowed, or becoming popular here, unless parents themselves decided to sign up their children to it – again it seems unlikely, given that concerned parents have many other methods to control their children’s gaming such as passwords and timer settings and the like.

Something of a moral panic has occurred in China over gaming. With authorities blaming excessive gaming for crime, physical and mental health issues and short-sightedness. Of course gaming can have issues, as many hobbies, but there are often broader issues (as their are in many countries) at play as well.

Tencent has facial recognition running on over 60 popular games, including huge hits such as Honor of Kings and Game for Peace (the China-only PUBG variant). Tencent has such a huge hold on the games market in China, that it has few concerns about its players going elsewhere.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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