Honour of Kings as Chinese popular heritage: Contesting authorized history in a mobile game

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines how users on social media responded to state criticism of the representation of Chinese historical characters in the popular Tencent mobile game Honour of Kings. The game’s usage of historical characters and the ensuing debate and criticism are analysed as ‘popular heritage’. A qualitative content analysis identifies several categories in the discussion of this game on the Q & A website Zhihu (知乎). The article discusses these categories in relation to existing literature on popular heritage. The analysis contributes to this literature by identifying a new feature of popular heritage, whereby the dissonance associated with popular heritage becomes in itself an enjoyable object of popular pleasure, deepening popular heritage’s capacity to generate critique of authorized heritage and exposing divisions within the power bloc. In light of these findings, we call for an approach to popular heritage that escapes a dichotomous people–elite schema in favour of a multi-actor approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-341
Number of pages23
JournalChina Information
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Honour of Kings
  • cultural security
  • custodianship
  • dissonant heritage
  • hegemony
  • historiography
  • popular heritage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance
  • General Social Sciences


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