Video game players are the subject of scrutiny under China's social credit system, running the risk of being blacklisted as a social pariah due to their hobbies. Once blacklisted under the country's new social system – which is currently in a trial run and set to go into full effect in 2020 – people won't be able to buy or rent proerty, buy plane tickets or stay in a high-end hotel, Market Place reports.
The idea of credit in China, unlike other countries, is still pretty new. As Market Place points out, a lot of the country's citizens still don't have a credit card. By 2020, the country wants to begin assessing a person's "credit worthiness" – not too dissimilar to a credit score – but the means in which China plans to do this are pretty unconventional. Country officials are not only collecting financial information about its citizens, but "legal infractions, as well as anti-social behaviors such as jaywalking or not sorting garbage in the appropriate bins."
According to BBC, to test run its social credit system, China is monitoring the activities of eight Chinese companies and how they issues their own social credits scores to users. The company Sesame Credit, the financial department of the world's largest online shopping platform Alibaba, happens to be one of these companies. As the outlet points out, Alibaba has 400 million users.
Miranda Shek, a Sesame Credit spokesperson, told BBC the company only tracks "financial and consumption activities of our users, and materials published on social media platforms do not affect our users' personal Sesame Credit score."
Based on what a user purchases, the company judges them and their merits as a contributing member of society.
For example, Sesame technology director Li Yingyun told Chinese Magazine Caixin (via BBC) someone who plays video games "10 hours a day ... would be considered an idle person, and someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility."
This effort to punish video game players sits in line with China's recent view of the medium. Yu Xinwen, a vice president of Guangzhou University and a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference recently compared video games to drugs, saying, "Some online games have become the new opium to poison the growth of teenagers."
But Tencent, the world's largest video game publisher, is looking to soon introduce digital contracts in its games, which allow parents to set up agreements with children to earn more time to play games through doing chores and homework. Tencent is one of the world's most valuable companies.