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27 July


Hong Kongers and Chinese gamers riot in GTA Online

The players did the same illegal actions as in reality

Game Photo: LIHKG

/NOVOSTIVL/ Grand Theft Auto’s wildly popular online multiplayer game has become the latest venue for Hong Kong pro-democracy supporters and Chinese nationalists to wage their ideological battles, with protests now breaking out in the virtual world. This article appeared in the HKFP.

Over the last fortnight message boards and social media platforms used by gamers have filled with videos and chatter of the virtual clashes as well as insults and recriminations on both sides of the ideological divide.

GTA Online is an open-world game that allows dozens of players to explore and fight each other through the streets of a sprawling, fictional American city.

After a recent expansion pack was released earlier this month, gamers in Hong Kong noticed they could now dress their avatars in the clothing of their movement, which is pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

They donned black clothes, gas masks and yellow helmets and went about throwing petrol bombs, trashing subway stations and attacking police – a virtual re-enactment of the protests that have upended the financial hub.

Their antics soon caught the attention of gamers in mainland China, who subsequently dressed their characters up as police and battled the Hong Kongers.

In a video clip posted on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform on Monday, gamers posted footage of the fight titled: "Compilation of players slaughtering cockroaches". Cockroach is a term routinely used by Hong Kong’s police and government supporters to describe protesters. The video had more than 175,000 views by Tuesday afternoon.

"Our dignity can’t be trampled, - one message on the video read. - As a Chinese player… we must fight!".