Hong Kong’s Yellow Umbrella (2014): A Prescient Political Game

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  • Hong Kong’s Yellow Umbrella (2014): A Prescient Political Game

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Abstract:

  • This paper examines the political game Yellow Umbrella, a free videogame created during the height of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement in October 2014 in response to police aggression against pro-democracy protests. The game has been featured recently in an international exhibition (Game and Politics: 20172020). Created by Awesapp, a Hong Kong-based company, this work invites a critical reflection on the relationship between videogames, play, and “real time” violence. The game puts the player in the role of defensive protestors in the face of oppositional figures such as policemen with pepper spray, politicians, and gangsters. Reversing our expectation of games as playful and political action as non-playful, Yellow Umbrella posits protests as sites of play and videogames as political. The game ultimately instructs the player how the actual demonstrations would eventually conclude: in a peaceful manner without concessions by the central government. The paper also refers to the larger genre of digitalized “derivative works” known as “secondary creation” ( 二次 創 作 ). As Hong Kong’s central government considers legislation to regulate “derivative works,” this paper raises the concern that the creation of such works may be restricted or prohibited in the future.

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