Tencent uses facial recognition to stop kids from gaming at night
Chinese gaming giant Tencent has introduced facial recognition tech intended to stop minors gaming at night. The tech will screen users of some Tencent games to verify that they are who they say they are, and if the verification fails, the user will be prohibited from playing online.
How does the new Tencent facial recognition system work?
This news comes to us from China news platform Sixth Tone (via analyst Daniel Ahmad on Twitter). Chinese law currently states that minors cannot game after 10pm, nor can they spend large amounts of money on games. Tencent’s new tech is intended to reinforce this law. According to a statement by Tencent (for which we’re using Sixth Tone’s translation), the company will conduct facial screening for any account registered with a real name that has played “for a certain period of time at night”. If the user refuses or the verification fails, the account will be treated as a minor and “kicked offline”.
Ostensibly, this curfew seems to be at odds with Tencent’s interests, especially considering that it is the world’s biggest publisher of video games, with various major studios and intellectual properties such as League of Legends and Valorant sitting firmly under its corporate umbrella.
However, the company has agreed to go along with China’s intentions to limit the amount of hours that Chinese youth can sink into video games, and has introduced the new facial recognition lock-out feature as an obligatory gesture. This echoes similar moves by other Chinese video game companies who have sought to comply with the government’s objectives for its youth.
Aptly enough, it has framed the technology as a way to encourage more regular sleeping hours for kids rather than a cut-off for gaming.
Addressing concerns regarding privacy, Tencent also reassured its users that while the concept of using facial recognition to limit gaming hours was new, the technology itself has been in use for years, with payment services and mobile app logins making use of it on a daily basis.
As of June 2021, it was reported that an average of 5.8 million accounts trigger facial verification processes during logins, and that 28,000 facial scans are done to verify purchases every day.