Chinese social organization files legal action against gaming giant Tencent for the protection of minors

Honor of Kings, a popular online game across China, is opening an offline store, which primarily sells game derivatives, at a shopping mall in Shanghai, east China. Photo: VCG

A Beijing-based social organization on Tuesday launched a civil public interest action against Chinese tech giant Tencent for the protection of minors, which is also International Children’s Day, claiming that Honor of Kings, the mobile game developed by Tencent which has become a household name and a cultural phenomenon in China, has seriously violated the rights of minors.

Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center (BCLARC), under the auspices of Zhicheng Public Interest Advocates – a coordination group that includes several subsidiary organizations, took the case to the People’s Court. Beijing’s No.1 intermediary, marking the first public interest civil law suit for the protection of minors initiated by a social organization in the country, according to a report by tech.ifeng.com, citing Zhicheng.

It is alleged that the content and settings of the images of game characters, lottery rules, voice communication, chat channels that do not correspond to the appropriate level for the age of 12 years and over; and that the character image design, website and community contain significant amounts of pornography and vulgar content that is unsuitable for minors; In addition, the images of the characters in the game have been tampered with, which is different from the story, and traditional national culture has also been trampled on, the organization said.

The game has also been described as potentially addicting, which could weaken the ability of minors for self-control and increase the risk of overplaying.

Tencent did not immediately respond to the Global Times investigation.

Honor of Kings is a multiplayer game in which a team of five heroes face off against another team of five. It became the first game to have over 100 million daily active users worldwide on average in November of last year.

According to Sensor Tower, Honor of Kings was the most lucrative game in the world. In April, the game retained the top ranking of games across the world, grossing $ 258 million in the month, up 38.4% year-over-year.

Tuesday also marked the entry into force of two recently revised laws directly related to child welfare in China.

Internet companies are prohibited from providing underage users any products and services known to be addictive. Restrictions on access to internet services, duration of use and consumption will be put in place for minors using services such as games, live streaming, social media, audio and video, depending on the latest revisions.

Chinese regulators have criticized the negative impact of excessive video game play on young people and have called for tougher measures to improve the situation in recent years.

In 2018, Tencent began launching its most stringent real name verification system honoring kings to protect minors in China, using police data for the first time as part of more scrutiny. strict of the Chinese regulator.

Last year, Tencent extended its anti-addiction measures for minors by limiting the time and money they can spend gambling. Users under the age of 18 are allowed to play for up to 3 hours per day. during official holidays, but are otherwise limited to 1.5 hours of play per day.

Joel C. Hicks