Tencent, the parent company of Riot Games, due to pressures from Chinese state regulators requested that Riot Games create an “AAS (anti-addiction system) upgrade” for the Chinese version of their game League of Legends for gamers residing in China. Essentially, this was a request for the creation of a surveillance system within the game. Riot Games complied with the request and created and shipped the update version of the game to China in order to preserve their entire Chinese player base. The surveillance system in their game includes an “anti-addiction warning” messages appearing in the game once players are approaching a two-hour play limit.
Gamers who fail to comply and exit the game would get punished with a heavy in-game penalty or even an exclusion altogether. Further, there is a remainder to remind minors that they aren’t allowed to play between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Moreover, players pop-ups may appear in their game telling players that it’s time to stop playing.
Tencent’s request of Riot GamesCulture stems from the Chinese government’s efforts to curb a younger people phenomenon it has dubbed a “video game addiction” by limiting matches to two hours. Game companies since 2018 have been implementing a tracking system and ID verification method in their games in accordance to the Chinese government’s demand. Apparently, the prospect of being excluded from the $36.5-billion Chinese gaming market is too great for them to bear. In complying with the Chinese government’s demand, the issue of whether American companies should take part in the intrusion upon the privacy of Chinese citizens, which is totally against American values, is raised. Furthermore, in so doing has the American gaming companies become accomplices to an authoritarian government violation of their citizens’ privacy rights.
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