Invaded by the PLA: New strategy game offers an alternate reality history of Hong Kong

Wargame: Red Dragon depicts a war inspired by Hong Kong's handover negotiations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 10:17pm

A new strategy game that flips history on its head and features an invasion of Hong Kong by the People’s Liberation Army has caught the attention of Chinese gamers.

Wargame: Red Dragon, which was released April 17, is the newest iteration in a series of tactical games developed by French software company Eugen Systems.

Watch: Wargame: Red Dragon Launch Trailer

The Wargame franchise, which has sold more than 500,000 copies among dedicated fans of strategy games, allows players to take up the role of commander and control military units in re-enactments of historical battles.

Traditionally, the series has generally focused on European wars, but Red Dragon ventures into Asia.

“Brief your armies, we are now boarding for Asia,” a press description on the game’s website reads. “[Wargame: Red Dragon allows players to] take command of the entirety of the military resources of 17 nations engaged in war… Tanks, aircraft, helicopters, as well as … maritime warships and amphibious units [fight] in spectacular battles of unmatched strategic depth.”

The game features an assortment of different story campaigns, and one such section, dubbed the “Pearl of The Orient", is an imaginary conflict inspired by the 1982 handover negotiations between British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping - who famously told Thatcher that he could “walk in [Hong Kong] and take the whole lot this afternoon” if negotiations broke down.

While this threat of force never materialised in real life, the “Pearl of the Orient" campaign depicts an alternate reality where Deng and Thatcher actually bring their respective countries, along with various other Commonwealth territories, to war over Hong Kong.

Hongkonger reactions to Wargame: Red Dragon have been positive and passionate thus far, despite the fact that the title currently has no Chinese-language localisation.

“As someone from Hong Kong, I am a bit unnerved by how the invasion of my hometown was actually one of the missions in this game,” wrote one internet commentator using the name “chankljp”. “I have came across a lot of 'cold war turned hot' stories in movies, books, and video games, but they are usually of the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Western Europe…

“This is one of the few stories that actually looks at the effect that the war will have in the Asia Pacific region… I like how the developers mixed in real historical facts with their own story, so that it really makes you feel like you are watching a documentary 10-20 years after the conflict in the alternate present.”   

More disgruntled commentators nostalgic for Hong Kong’s colonial past have also taken special notice of the game’s alternate history.

“This [game] is not a true story,” wrote one. “Hong Kong is dying [today] and [there is] no one to help us.”

“Unfortunately, this didn't happen in the 1997 [handover],” wrote another. "Long live the queen."