Checking Ages for Games via Facial Recognition

By: Joseph Sanford


One of China’s most popular video games is testing the use of facial recognition to check users’ ages.


Honor of Kings’ publisher Tencent announced the move at the weekend. It said the trial would initially be limited to “thousands” of new players based in Beijing and Shenzhen. The title has been criticized in local media over claims children have become addicted to it. But one expert questioned whether the test could be scaled up.


The mobile app resembles League of Legends and pits players against each other in multiplayer online battles set in a fantasy world. Under pressure from local regulators, Tencent introduced restrictions in July 2017 to limit under-12s to one hour of gameplay a day and 13- to 18-year-olds to a maximum of two hours. Last month, the company added a real-name registration system to encourage players to keep to the rules.


The facial-recognition test appears to be a further effort to discourage young players from trying to circumvent the time limits. Tencent said a random selection of new players would be assigned to the test when they first signed into the game.


But it has not disclosed the technology it will use to carry out the scans or how it intends to cross-reference the resulting IDs. Tencent highlighted that many users had previously voiced concerns about the idea of it using facial ID checks in games and said it would evaluate the results of the real-world trial “in depth”.