British Journal of Chinese Studies

dragon mural beijing 2018 copyright Gerda Wielander
Vol 12 No 2 (2022): Games and Gaming in China and the Sinophone World

Civil Disobedience in the Era of Videogames: Digital Ethnographic Evidence of the Gamification of the 2019-20 Extradition Protests in Hong Kong

Christopher J.H. Ho
independent scholar
Published August 2, 2022
How to Cite
Ho, C. J. (2022). Civil Disobedience in the Era of Videogames. British Journal of Chinese Studies, 12(2), 101-113.


This paper demonstrates that the ‘gamification’ of the 2019-220 Hong Kong extradition protests was instrumental to the longevity of the protests and their success in repealing the Extradition Bill. Two elements of the protests are identified to be both crucial and game-like: the ‘play’ and the ‘meta-game’ elements of the protest. The play element is best exemplified by the mobile application colloquially known as ‘Popomon Go’, where ‘players’ are incentivized to go on ‘missions’ to seek and geotag police officers to form a heat-map of police officers throughout Hong Kong, as well as gather their personal data. The meta-game element, on the other hand, looks at every other aspect of those games except the gameplay. The combination of these two elements helped an apparently leaderless civil disobedience movement evade mass arrest, reduce anxiety, and increase efficiency, but also led to a long period of civil disobedience, thus placing more pressure on policy decision makers.

Image: Digital posters advertising Hong Kong protest events that circulated on Telegram (Anonymous, 2019)

  • Hong Kong,
  • protest,
  • video games,
  • cyberbullying,
  • civil disobedience,
  • gamification
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