Chinese gaming giant Tencent proposes ‘digital contracts’ that let parents and kids agree on reasonable play times

BEIJING- Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings is looking to introduce a new feature to its video games – one that could solve an increasingly common problem faced by parents: What is a reasonable amount of time children should spend playing video games?

That question could be settled once and for all when the gaming giant introduces digital contracts to its video games – a feature that would allow both parents and their children to agree on reasonable play times, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“With the proposed feature, children can exchange their playing time by doing housework or reaching certain (academic) scores,” the company’s chief executive Pony Ma was quoted saying on Saturday (March 3).

“Children can ask their friends to witness the signing of the contract,” Ma told a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) late Saturday.

The planned digital contracts feature comes after the Shenzhen-based company was blamed in the state media last year for causing children to stay up too late playing its mobile games and neglecting their homework. Following the criticism, the company moved to impose restrictions on playtimes.

Ma said that the company’s games can also be used for learning and that he plans to introduce future titles – including on maths and science – that would likely appeal more to parents than their children.

Tencent’s multiplayer online battle game Honour of Kings is reported to be China’s most popular.

The company is the largest videogame publisher in the world by revenue and also owns the popular WeChat messaging app, according to the Journal.