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Facial recognition software that kicks in every nightfall is now being deployed by Chinese gaming corporation Tencent Games in a bid to confront excessive gaming between minors.
The ‘midnight-patrol’ technology takes effect between 10pm and 8am, utilizing details registered in a national database.
The World Health Organization recognized gaming addiction as a disorder in 2018, and China has seen concerns over an increasing amount of video game addiction in children. Gaming is easily accessible across various platforms, and as children younger and younger adopt devices, it’s easy to see how it could turn into a slippery slope.
Alarm was raised after reported incidents of the physical and mental health of gamers being adversely affected, such as teenagers stealing money to top up their game accounts and an increase in myopia in the country.
However, the midnight patrol isn’t the first step taken in a combat against gaming addiction. In late 2019, the Chinese government introduced its first curfew requiring users to register with their real names so that age can be verified. Gaming companies that do not impose this risk would have their licenses revoked. However, there have been countless cases of minors circumventing this, easily creating accounts using adults’ IDs instead.
Thus the crackdown. “We will conduct a face screening for accounts registered with real names and that have played for a certain period of time at night,” said Tencent Games in a statement translated by Sixth Tone. “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.”