Face recognition keeps kids from gambling at night

Gamble yes, but please not after 10 p.m. (Photo: Ina Lihach / shutterstock.com)

In order to prevent possible gambling addiction among teenagers, the Chinese tech company Tencent is introducing a system with facial recognition – and then also knows who is playing what and when.

China is one of the largest gaming markets with 620 million players and sales of 38 billion US dollars. Concerned that children and young people could gamble too much and possibly become addicted to games, the country’s government already tightened the reins at the end of 2019. Under-18s should not be allowed to play between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., the playing time should be limited to 1.5 hours per weekday and three hours on Saturdays and Sundays. To implement these requirements, Tencent is now launching the Midnight Patrol system.

Players have to identify themselves in the evening

The technology of the Chinese tech group includes facial recognition and has access to a database with the personal data of users, such as names and ID data. Anyone who registers to play on a platform equipped with Tencent technology must have their identity verified. Users who refuse or fail the exam will be kicked from the platform, writes The Next Web.

60 games affected, more to follow

The feature will initially include 60 popular games, including “Honor of Kings” and “Game for Peace”. Tencent has already announced that more titles will follow. Data protection activists are unlikely to be enthusiastic about such a monitoring function. The analyst Yulong Cui from Ark Investment Management, which specializes in innovation in Asia, has meanwhile identified a major advantage for Tencent that the company can draw from the feature: Tencent then knows even more precisely which person is playing what and for how long.

For young gamers who do not want to be banned from playing at night, there will probably only be a detour via a VPN connection. Conventional consoles or computers with games that do not necessarily depend on an Internet connection could also be used to bypass the restrictions. For China, the partial gaming ban is meanwhile an important means of curbing addictive behavior in online gaming – and “building a clean and pure cyberspace”, as a government spokesman in 2019 said said.

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