Tencent employs facial recognition to detect minors in top-grossing mobile game ‘Honour of Kings’–SCMP

What happened: On Saturday, Tencent revealed that 1,000 new China-based users of its highest-earning mobile game Honor of Kings (the Chinese version of Arena of Valor) have been chosen to test out a new facial recognition function. The feature would compare camera shots of players’ faces with government databases, and is meant to deter young gamers from too much screen-time. Tencent has said it’s the first gaming company to use such official data in order to vet users. The company didn’t clarify when facial recognition checks would be implemented for all Honor of Kings users, or if it would also be used in other Tencent games.

Why it’s important: This is just the latest measure coming from Tencent following official disapproval over minors’ gaming addiction which started this year. After blaming kids’ nearsightedness on too much gaming, the authorities set limits on the number of new online games in August. Tencent and other companies have seen a drop in stocks since. In an apparent effort to appease concerns, last month the tech titan began trying out a feature on its mobile video app that blurs images when viewers’ faces are too close to their screens. If the Honour of Kings facial recognition function launches, it would affect some 200 million users, not to mention company profits.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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