Politics seems to be rearing its ugly head in the unlikely space of video games, as popular mobile game Second Galaxy appears to be removing guilds with any reference at all to Hong Kong, despite not engaging in any political behavior themselves.
Reddit user u/Cereal_Bagger has posted a PSA as a warning for any players who might be consider playing or paying for this game. They state that they come from a guild of the Alliance named HongKonger (Hker), so named because it was formed mostly by players in Hong Kong.
The following Guilds were also part of the original Alliance, consisting of over 1000 players:
- HongKonger (HKer)
- HK Glory (HKG)
- HKFREEARMY (HKFA)
- Free HK (FHK)
- FEHK (HKE)
- HK Legend (HKS)
- HK Freedom (F4F)
At approximately 9:30 PM (GMT +8), the guild-masters of each organization had been hacked. Those who attempted to log in during this time were met with a message that roughly translates in English to “You account has been [Mandated]. Unable to login” [sic]. Half an hour after that, the hacked guild master account kicked out all members of the above-mentioned guilds, all of which contain “HK” in some way in the name of their guild.
When all the guilds had been virtually disassembled, an announcement was made by the official account named “Tieba”, stating:
If the council noticed anyone that might "damage" the authority of the Nation(China). Please report and we would handle it.
The council would not allow anything that go against with the laws of China.”
The issue is not only that these accounts were hacked, and guilds disassembled, but that there seems to be no official response to the issue by the developer. The players claim that they were not engaged in any political discussion, and this seems logical, given that the targeting of the hack was to any group with the name or reference to Hong Kong.
While one may think that this is limited to smaller game developers, u/Zapph on the same reddit page pointed out that World of Warcraft engaged in something similar only recently. Certain character and guild names could not be selected, including the following rough translations to English:
- HK strike
- HK parade
- HK rally
- Reverse delivery
- Extradition fugitive
- Withdrawal of fugitive offenders
- Hong Kong strike
- Hong Kong parade
- Hong Kong rally
Interestingly, while a company like Blizzard may not officially state that they have political leanings one way or another, they do seem happy to comply with demands that are clearly only meant to target a specific and ongoing event. Previously, Blizzard would mainly censor models in game.
For now, players are likely best to stay away from Second Galaxy, but this also be a starting point for discussion on what manner of political interference a game developer should have on its player base. Second Galaxy will now forever have a reputation that cannot be removed, and it not likely to maintain a strong player base following this behavior.