A mobile game where the player assumes the role of a Hong Kong protester has already been taken down from the Google Play Store after being available for three days.
Things are looking pretty rough for Hong Kong. After taking control of the former British colony in 1997, China has been slowly eroding Hong Kong’s democracy. In 2014, electoral reforms gutted Hong Kong’s ability to hold free elections by allowing citizens to only elect half of the city’s governing body. And in the early part of 2019, a proposed extradition law would allow Hong Kong citizens to be sent to mainland China to be tried for crimes.
The Hong Kongese rightly saw that law as the last straw. Since all judges in China are unelected party officials, it’s impossible to get a fair trial in China. And the punishment for breaking quite a few laws is death.
Without any other option, the people of Hong Kong engaged in massive protests over the summer that continues to this day. The protestors are fighting for the return of Hong Kong democracy, while China is looking to consolidate its rule over Hong Kong. So far, neither side has backed down and the conflict is only escalating.
The protesters have no central organization and have been largely using social media to stage protests. In the internet age, decentralization is key to survival as it prevents Chinese agents from targeting anyone in particular.
Another unusual tool being used by the protest group has been mobile games. One game is called The Revolution of Our Times (a slogan often chanted by Hong Kong protesters) and has the player assume the role of a Hong Kong citizen during the June protests. It’s mostly a text-based game where each decision can affect the outcome of protests. You could eventually lead Hong Kong to its liberation from China or you could be arrested and tortured at the hands of riot police.
The game was placed on Google Play on Saturday, October 5th, but after just three days, Google took down the game for a violation of its user agreement. Developer “Spinner of Yarns” told the Hong Kong Free Press that they believe they’re being censored due to Google’s business in China.
“Before suspending me, Google Play did not give any warning,” Spinner of Yarns told HKFP. “But I noticed that for three days after it was published, I couldn’t search for it by name on Play Store, but only access the app via the app ID.”
After being widely criticized for the move, Google explained its position in a statement. “We have a long-standing policy prohibiting developers from capitalizing on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game. After careful review, we found this app to be violating that particular policy and suspended it, as we have done with similar attempts to profit from other high-profile events such as earthquakes, crises, suicides, and conflicts.”
Google isn’t the first company to be accused of kowtowing to China regarding the Hong Kong protests. California-based game developer Blizzard recently banned a Hearthstone player for expressing support of the protest.
(via Hong Kong Free Press)