Tencent is a Chinese company that you might be most familiar with with regards to WeChat or PUBG, but it’s also got something called Midnight Patrol heading to the Chinese market. Sadly, this isn’t a game… or anything else you should get too excited about.
Tencent Gaming has a new software for the Chinese gaming market. In case you weren’t aware, it’s not an ideal time to be a gamer and a minor in China, because if you are, you’re limited on how long you play video games between 22h00 and 08h00 in the morning. Underage gamers have long been required to register (using their real names and government IDs) with a central database, but in 2019 they were also given gaming time caps — 1.5 hours on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends.
Riding the Midnight Patrol
These government-level restrictions are taken seriously enough that they’re being policed rather heavily, with Tencent’s newly launched Midnight Patrol facial recognition system being used to detect when kids are staying up late and playing video games. The system will be linked to “…big data from the central public security system”, according to website Sixth Tone. That’s the same sort of database that powers smart city concepts around the world.
Tencent explains that “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.”
The flip side of Tencent's success is that the gaming addiction is real…but this will also mean they will know when, what and how much you are playing.
— Yulong Cui (@Yulong_MICHI) July 6, 2021
It seems that this ‘anti-addiction’ measure, which launched this week, will only function through Tencent Gaming’s mobile platform but imagine if Steam required biometric security checks from you before you could play a round of Call of Duty after 22h00. It’s kind of the same situation here, launched in response to kids pretending to be adults online. Sixty games will be affected by Tencent’s Midnight Patrol software. More will likely be added in the months to come.
Source: Sixth Tone