China’s social media was briefly aflutter this fall about an impressive feat in the popular online fantasy game Honor of Kings. A player had completed a “pentakill,” or five kills in a row, but something just smelled wrong: The user in question was 60 years old, according to the verified account information—hardly the type to be an expert gamer. Even more mysterious, why was this person brandishing digital weaponry at 3 a.m.? Was the player in fact a teenager sneaking online in the wee hours of the morning?
Under normal circumstances, the speculation might have ended there. But these days are far from normal in China. Deeming video games a distraction from the hard work of serving the motherland, President Xi Jinping’s government mandated in August that youngsters could play just three hours a week, and only at specified times. Thus, the anonymous gamer, whoever he or she was, might have been violating the law and the great leader’s wishes. The matter got so much attention that the game’s operator, the Chinese tech giant Tencent, investigated and in a formal statement confirmed that the game-obsessed insomniac was indeed a perfectly legal 60-year-old.