HONG KONG – A new smartphone, Yellow Umbrella, game that allows users to take part in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests has become a popular application amongst demonstrators and gamers. “Yellow Umbrella”, a free Android app, has been downloaded more than 40,000 times since it was released on Google Play on Monday, developer Awesapp said, although it has yet to receive approval from Apple and is noticeably absent from Google’s online store in mainland China.
The game itself is filled with cultural references inspired by nearly a month of mass rallies and roadblocks calling for Beijing to rescind its insistence that Hong Kong’s next leader be vetted by a loyalist committee ahead of elections in 2017. Yellow umbrellas and ribbons are used as defensive tools as student leader Joshua Wong, who has become something of a local celebrity and heart throb, cheers from the barricades.
“I wanted to make a game not only for fun but also to show our support to the students and to let others know that they are very peaceful in asking for real elections,” Fung, the 31-year-old founder of game developer Awesapp, said from his office in an industrial park in the city’s Sha Tin district. “After the tear gas, after the violence from gangsters and even the police, I thought we needed to do more to show our support,” he added.
Demonstrators have blocked roads and held mass rallies in the Asian financial hub for around four weeks to protest a decision by Beijing to vet candidates for leadership elections in 2017.
In the game, users are placed on virtual blockades that they must defend against tear gas-wielding police officers, triad thugs and embattled Hong Kong leader CY Leung dressed as a wolf. A Hong Kong lawmaker from a pro-business party that supports Beijing said yesterday that the city’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, should consider resigning.
Pro-democracy groups that have been staging the protests plan to conduct a referendum Sunday aimed at gauging support for how the protest movement can best negotiate with the central government in Beijing. The pro-democracy advocates are staging the protests after the national legislature in Beijing, which oversees changes to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, set rules for the 2017 election for chief executive that critics said excluded candidates not approved by Beijing.
Until today, the protesters have been out there, fighting for what they believe is right, for a month.