A Game of Resistance: Empowering the Anti-Military Movement in Myanmar

In the wake of the 2021 coup in Myanmar, Ko Toot, an IT professional, decided to leverage his skills to support the pro-democracy movement and raise funds for the anti-military resistance. He developed a mobile game based on real events in the country, aimed at increasing awareness and generating financial aid for the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) fighting against the ruling junta. Through his game, Ko Toot allows players to step into the shoes of PDF soldiers and experience the challenges they face in their fight against the military.

The game, originally launched as “The PDF Game” and now called “War of Heroes – The PDF Game”, has gained significant popularity, reaching almost one million downloads. Players can download the game for free but watch in-game ads, with the proceeds going towards supporting the resistance movement. So far, Ko Toot estimates that the game has raised at least $508,000. With monthly revenues averaging around $70,000 to $80,000, Ko Toot is hopeful that the game’s income will continue to increase.

However, the game has faced challenges on app stores due to their policies surrounding sensitive events. On Google Play, the game’s name had to be changed to comply with the platform’s guidelines. Similarly, Apple initially removed the game from the App Store for violating its guidelines on targeting real governments and entities. After making necessary amendments, the game was reinstated, providing a boost to Ko Toot’s income and fundraising efforts.

While the game serves as a platform to mobilize support and finances for the anti-military movement, it has also drawn criticism and threats from the ruling junta. Myanmar’s military issued a notice warning the public about the game’s association with “terrorist organizations” and its intention to raise funds for PDFs, aiming to sow mistrust against the military. Despite the threats, Ko Toot remains committed to fighting against the military’s oppressive regime, stating that the digital strike cannot be stopped.

The funds raised through the game are sent directly to local PDFs, supporting their activities, including procuring arms, providing humanitarian aid, and assisting children and individuals affected by the conflict. The PDFs, formed in response to the 2021 coup, have gained significant strength and support, leading to the military losing control over large parts of the country. As the conflict intensifies, grassroots funding efforts, such as Ko Toot’s game, play a crucial role in sustaining the resistance movement.

Ko Toot’s hope is to continue expanding the game’s reach and raising even greater funds, with a long-term goal of $1 million per month. The funds generated through the game will provide much-needed support to the people of Myanmar, who are desperate for assistance amidst the worsening situation in the country. By empowering individuals to engage in the virtual battle against the military, Ko Toot aims to make a tangible impact on the ground and contribute to the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar.