How do you defend yourself against scores of tear gas wielding police while manning the barricades at Hong Kong’s protest camps? Unleash the wrath of Chinese deity Guan Yu.
That’s just one of the options available to players of a new smartphone game which has swiftly become a hit among gamers and protesters.
Yellow Umbrella has been downloaded more than 40,000 times from Google Play’s store since its release on Monday, the game’s developers said, although it has yet to receive approval from Apple and is noticeably absent from Google’s online store on the mainland.
The game puts players on a protester barricade as it is charged by lines of police officers, triad thugs, angry locals and even the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dressed as a wolf.
Incense sticks, stacks of money and durian can all be placed in front of the attackers to slow them down in a tower defence format similar to the wildly popular Plants vs Zombies.
When the going gets tough
And when things get really tough, protesters can call down Guan Yu - a popular Chinese deity prayed to for protection.
"They [the protesters] like Guan Yu very much because they want to resolve the problem but they don't know how to do it. They don't want to use violence, so they just ask the god to help,” the game’s creator Fung Kam-keung says.
The game itself is filled with cultural references inspired by nearly a month of mass rallies and roadblocks calling for Beijing to retract 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 Chi-fung, who has become something of a local celebrity and heart throb, cheers from the barricades.
Big bad wolf
Leung’s dog-like appearance is a nod to a common insult thrown by detractors at the city’s leader, whose name sounds similar to the Cantonese word for a wolf.
But in keeping with the protest movement’s non-violent ethos protesters cannot attack their assailants.
"I wanted to make a game not only for fun but also to show our support for 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 police, I thought we needed to do more to show our support," he added.
The democracy movement was galvanised in late September after police used tear gas 87 times to clear protesters who took over a major road opposite the government headquarters.
The game was developed in just five days, and so far reviews are positive.
"We play this game to keep ourselves reminded of our struggle for freedom and democracy. Fight for freedom!” one user Zux Kev, who gave the maximum five star rating, commented on the Google Play store.
"If you’re a Hongkonger and love democracy, play it," user Yeung Tim-wing, who also gave a five-star rating to the game, said.