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Gamers in Hong Kong are protesting in Animal Crossing and now China wants to ban the game

Gamers in Hong Kong are protesting in Animal Crossing and now China wants to ban the game

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China is trying to ban people from playing the hugely popular Nintendo Switch game ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ because protesters are using the game to criticize President Xi Jinping and the government of Hong Kong.

The game, which was released last month, is a social simulation game where players live on an idyllic tropical island, befriend anthropomorphic animals, tend crops, and decorate their surroundings. The game has been hugely popular during the coronavirus lockdown, and some protesters in Hong Kong have been using the ability to create your own world to conduct online protests while offline protests have been banned.

How to protest on a game?

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, was among the first to show how this could be done, posting a screenshot of his island, which he decorated with a banner saying: “Free Hong Kong, revolution now.”

But now Beijing appears to be trying to stop the sale of the game. Listings on ecommerce platforms Taobao and Pinduoduo have been removed since Friday morning, and sellers report they have been directed to no longer list the game. It is unclear if the decision was made by the platforms themselves, or at the direction of the Chinese government. The game is not officially available in China as it has not been approved by the country’s gaming regulator.

The game has become a platform for dissent

One video shows six players on a beach hitting images of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Wong with butterfly nets.

But it was not just Hong Kong protestors who used the game features to highlight issues in China. Other citizens began posting criticism of President Xi Jinping.

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