[ISEA2016] Paper: James Shea – A Double Détournement in the Classroom: HK Protest Online Game as Conceptual Art

Abstract (long paper)

This paper examines the role of digital détournement during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement in late 2014 through the prism of HK Protest Online Game, a conceptual art game made in response to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. Created by an undergraduate Hong Kong student, this work invites a critical reflection on playability by questioning the relationship between videogames, play, and “real time” violence. As an unplayable game, it reroutes the player to contemporaneous street demonstrations in Hong Kong, serving both as a détournement of police aggression and of videogames that commercialize violence. Reversing our expectation of games as playful and political action as non-playful, HKPOG presents its game as unreal and posits Hong Kong’s protests as sites of play. The paper considers related digital artwork and the use of détournement during the Umbrella Movement, including umbrellas themselves and digitalized “derivative works” also known as “secondary creation” (yihchi chongjok in Cantonese and èrcì chuàngzuò in Mandarin; 二次創作). As Hong Kong’s central government pushes for new legislation to regulate “derivative works,” this paper raises the concern that the creation of such works, whether in the classroom or not, may be restricted or prohibited in the future.

  • James Shea, Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, HK

Full text (PDF)  p.  190-198