Creative: Finnish Newspaper Has ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ Custom Map Made To Deliver News To Russians About The War


from the counter-factuals dept

When Putin decided to show the world that his government is so wildly incompetent that it turned what was supposed to be a weeks long takeover of Ukraine into a prolonged conflict in which Russian victory of any kind is very much an open question, he also attempted to keep the truth from reaching Russians. Russia took all kinds of steps in this quest, including putting demands on internet and social media sites to stop fact checking government assertions, as well as making it illegal to publish any “false” information about the war. I couldn’t possibly make those scare-quote marks big enough, so unburdened is the Russian government with anything resembling credibility. And so some news organizations complied. Some shut down. Many foreign outlets around the world found their content blocked in Russia.

But the internet, as they say, routes around censorship. And, creatively using the online video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, on Finnish news group is demonstrating how.

According to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, CS:GO is extremely popular in Russia—it’s played by nearly 4 million people, mostly young men. And unlike other western services such as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube, the servers have remained online in Russia. So Helsingin Sanomat paid two custom map designers to create a map with a hidden room that details the horrors of war in Ukraine. Helsingin Sanomat released the map on May 2.

When a player dies on the de_voyna map, they’re able to freely roam the space and find an underground room near a flame (which has symbolic significance as a war memorial). Once they enter, they’ll see newspaper headlines about the war in Ukraine—including the massacre in Bucha, where mass graves have been discovered. A map details the locations in Ukraine that Russian soldiers have attacked, and a table lists the number of Russians who have been killed. Another station tells the story of the Ukrainian civilian Yuriy Glodan, whose family was killed by a missile strike while he was shopping for groceries.

Now, this certainly isn’t going to reach people in Russia the way it would if Putin and his cronies weren’t so completely terrified of the truth so as to censor news it doesn’t like. But it’s also a start. And you can certainly see these small penetrations of news from outside of Russian borders being spread via word of mouth within the country.

The point is that in a globally connected digital world, the success rate of information censorship will always trend to failure. And hiding news like this isn’t limited to CS:GO. There are plenty of other avenues by which the truth about the war in Ukraine can break through.

This is pretty nuts. Russian law has now made it criminal for global news organizations to speak truth in the public eye, but CS:GO is making that possible through journalistic ingenuity. You can check it out yourself by going to this link.

So in the end, the attempt to censor the truth within Russia will ultimately backfire. The news will still penetrate through the blockade and all the Russian government will get for its efforts is the appearance of being weak and scared.

Filed Under: counter-strike, custom map, finland, information sharing, news, russia

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