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Even if you've never heard of Tencent, you've likely played a game it has a hand in. The gaming giant is a major investor or owner in development studios including Activision Blizzard, Riot, Ubisoft, Dontnod, Epic Games, Roblox Corporation, and more. When we say it's big, big feels like an understatement - and the company has just implemented some controversial tech into its games in China.
Tencent has started using a form of facial recognition in China to identify and prevent children and teenagers from playing games at odd hours. According to Chinese state media outlet Sixth Tone, the enforcement of rules on gaming curfews and spending limits on young people, has been a struggle as kids and teens have been bypassing security measures. But Tencent is now using facial recognition technology to identify who is gaming between the hours of 10pm and 8am, to help impose these laws.
Tencent, when talking about this "Midnight Patrol" initiative, stated: "We will conduct a face screening for accounts registered with real names and that have played for a certain period of time at night. 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."
There will be over 60 games using this new technology in China from this week, but the original usage of this technology began all the way back in 2018, in Beijing and Shenzhen.
All of these implementations are in an effort to limit gaming addiction in China as well as lessen the concerns of experts who think gaming is causing a higher rate of short-sightedness in younger generations.
Of course, this sort of technology is bound to be controversial when implemented. It raises concerns about privacy - especially when you have to engage with the process, no matter if you're a minor or an adult, to gain access to games after 10pm. We'll have to see how China adapts to these new rules on the 60 games Tencent has introduced the tech to, and see if other companies eventually follow its lead.
Featured Image Credit: cottonbro / Julia M Cameron (via Pexels)