China's largest gaming company Tencent Games isn't just known for gaming. In China, Tencent is an entertainment powerhouse for digital entertainment, including the country's biggest movies. Furthermore, the company is involved in the creation of social programs such as the country's Social Credit System, and now, Midnight Patrol.
While Tencent was only involved in the Social Credit System, Midnight Patrol is entirely created by the company. Designed specifically to target children, the software sets a dangerous precedent for techno-parenting.
What is Midnight Patrol?
Tencent's latest software is aimed at late-night gamers under the age of 18. In a bid to reduce excessive gaming in children the software uses facial recognition software that, as Sixth Tone puts it, will deter “minors from using “tricks” to pose as adults between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.”
Midnight Patrol will require Chinese citizens to sign up with real names and facial verification. Those who refuse to input those details will automatically be treated as a child and kicked off games after a certain amount of play. Tencent says:
“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.”
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Will every game use this?
Tencent will first give the software a soft-launch in China. The feature will initially be compatible with over 60 of the company's most popular games. Honor of Kings, their biggest MOBA, and Game for Peace (China’s PUBG) are among the included titles.
There’s no knowing if Midnight Patrol will eventually become mandatory on Western games coming into China. However, as the country begins to take this excessive stance against video game addiction, it’s certainly possible.
Of course, there's also the ethical dilemma. Should software parent children instead of actual parents? At this time, it doesn't appear they care.
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