The story of ‘Heung Shing Online’ is fascinating. It’s a perfect demonstration of how the virtual and physical realms are blurred. The yellow text in the above image reads,
‘Disclaimer: We urge all netizens to be clearheaded. Please distinguish reality from fantasy. Don’t indulge in gaming to excess. This webpage is only for the purpose of gaming, we don’t instigate nor encourage real violent acts nor criminal behaviour. We take no legal responsibility in the usage of the content of this webpage’
On 19 July 2019, one month into the Anti-ELAB movement, a netizen on LIHKG posted about their idea of creating an online game like Sim City, that mimics the street protests in Hong Kong. (LIHKG is an online forum much like reddit. It was highly influential, generating images, slogans, discussions and strategies. I would say LIHKG was the leader of the leaderless movement, especially in the early months.) On the same LIHKG post, they also uploaded a ‘strategy guide’ created with excel.
‘Heung Shing Online’ was never meant to be a real game, only the strategy guide exists. However it was labeled by pro-Beijing media as the ‘Biggest real life RPG (role-playing game)’ that instigates violence against police, the strategy guide as a training manual for frontliners, especially secondary school kids who ‘do not’ have the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.
In the following months, netizens continued their discussions of strategies on LIHKG with gaming terminology as if the protest was a real RPG. This was to minimise the risk that one day the posts could be used against these netizens in court.