The government of China plans to tighten strict rules on the time children spend gaming online. Giant gaming companies like Tencent will use facial recognition to enforce the rules. “You will have to link your real ID to your gaming account and Tencent will make you scan your face if you’re playing late night games. So even if your ID says you’re an adult, if you’re playing late night games, they’ll assume that you are minor unless you scan your face.” Such regulation, which affects adults and children, would be unacceptable in many countries.
Lisa Cosmas Hanson, whose market research firm Niko Partners analyses the Asian games market, points out that for years China banned the import of games consoles.On the other hand competition between the game-streaming platforms to attract star players is hotting up. For football fans the big news this week has been the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus to Manchester United, but for many gamers, it was two of Twitch's biggest stars - Tim The Tatman and Dr. Lupo - moving to stream competitor YouTube.
Three hours a week? Imagine the outrage if young British or American online gamers were told, as children in China have been, that this was the maximum time they could spend on their pastime.
After all, that's how long many spend days just watching their favorite gamers playing on streaming platforms like Twitch.
This week's Tech Tent looks at two stories that show how China and the West are diverging when it comes to attitudes to online gaming.
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In China, the government plans to tighten already strict rules on the time children spend gaming online and be fairly confident they will be largely obeyed. California-based Rui Ma, who hosts the Tech Buzz China podcast, explains that the government relies on the games industry, and notably its leading player Tencent, to enforce the rules using facial recognition.
"You have to tie your real ID to your account. And Tencent actually makes you scan your face if you're playing late at night for more than a set period of time. So even if your ID says you're an adult, if you're playing late at night, they'll assume that you're a minor unless you scan your face."
Such intrusive regulation, especially as it affects adults as well as children, would be unacceptable in many countries.
But Lisa Cosmas Hanson, whose market research firm Niko Partners analyses the Asian games market, points out that for years China banned the import of games consoles.
"The Chinese government has always been transparent, saying we are here to protect our youth against what we consider harmful content and harmful behaviors," she says.
China, of course, has a powerful, fast-growing games industry, and while there should be little impact on it in the short term, eventually Ms. Hanson sees a threat to the next generation of developers and professional players.
"That is the troublesome part, especially in terms of e-sports, this will be a big change. You need to train for your sport, and e-sports is a sport, and if they're not able to train, then what happens?"
Meanwhile, in the West, competition between the game-streaming platforms to attract star players is hotting up.
For football fans the big news this week has been the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus to Manchester United, but for many gamers, the bombshell was two of Twitch's biggest stars - TimTheTatman and DrLupo - moving to stream competitor YouTube.
At 34 Ben Lupo, who made his name playing Fortnite, may, like Ronaldo, not have too many years left at the top. He made it clear that money was the big factor in switching to YouTube. "Like, why does anybody go to work, guys?" he told his fans.
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