Image: Tencent screengrab
Starting September 15, China’s largest gaming company Tencent will require players to use their real names when logging into Honour of Kings—a popular League of Legends-style game.According to Beijing, China has a gaming problem. The Chinese government has long sought to curb what it sees as gaming addiction among its population, especially its youth. It already restricts playtime for people under the age of 18 and what games can come to market, and runs military-style boot camps to break gamers of their “addiction.”
Tencent said it planned to roll out this Beijing-backed restriction to its other games later. “Through these measures, Tencent hopes to continue to better guide underaged players to game sensibly,” it said in an official announcement on its WeChat account.
The government database is new, but Tencent has a history of going along with Beijing’s paranoia about video games and its demands from manufacturers. Since July 2017, Tencent has restricted the playtime of users under 12 to one hour a day. Kids aged 13-18 can only play two hours a day.As a gamer, that makes my skin crawl. I don’t know what I would have done with my lazy 15-year-old self if I couldn’t have EverQuest all weekend long. Gaming addiction is a serious problem and the news is filled with accounts of the times when gamers croak during marathon sessions. But those tragedies make the news because they’re rare.It’s not the government’s place to decide who gets to do what.Tencent is often targeted by regulators because its games are the most popular. Last year, The People’s Daily—the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party—called Tencent’s Honour of Kings “poison” and begged them to “not commit evil.”Beijing has been signaling that more regulations were coming for weeks. Along with the real name requirement, the government has to approve new video games before they’re released—it stopped approving new games in the middle of August.These new restrictions come on the hells of reports that Chinese children suffer from heightened levels of nearsightedness, a condition Beijing claims is caused by playing too many video games.