Decision comes as Chinese government blames video games for damaging children’s health
A Chinese company is planning to use facial recognition technology to detect minors attempting to play its video games.
In a statement released Saturday, Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest games company, said it would begin testing the new feature on a select group of users in Beijing and Shenzhen.
Using the phone’s camera, the highly-popular mobile game “Honour of Kings” will request roughly 1,000 new users to submit to a face scan for identity verification purposes.
The new feature comes less than a month after Honour of Kings, which currently boasts more than 200 million players, began checking users’ personal information against public security databases in order to verify their identities.
The South China Morning Post reports Tencent’s decision follows outcry from the Chinese government over alleged health dangers related to children and video games.
“Tencent’s stricter controls over underage gamers come amid Beijing’s call to protect children’s health, with the government blaming the country’s widespread myopia on the playing of video games,” SCMP’s Zheping Huang writes.
The company similarly implemented last week a new feature to one of its video apps that blurs the screen if a user comes too close.
Huang says measures were also introduced to limit the amount of time young users could spend on Honour of Kings last year after a prominent state newspaper called the game “poison.”
Tencent has declined thus far to comment on whether the facial recognition checks will be used in other games.
The use of facial recognition in China, a country with more than 170 million CCTV cameras alone, has becoming increasingly common.
Earlier this year it was revealed that police in Shenzhen began using facial recognition technology to identify jaywalkers and send them fines over text message.
Officers in Central China’s Henan Province were also given this year sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology in order to locate wanted suspects.