Finnish Newspaper Exposes Harsh Realities of Ukraine Invasion Through CS:GO Map

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's largest daily newspaper, has created a custom map in the popular video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) to bypass censorship and deliver information about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to the Russian population.
The map, named de_voyna, features a concealed underground room that presents players with newspaper headlines about the conflict in Ukraine, a map of locations attacked by Russian soldiers, and information about Russian casualties and Ukrainian civilian victims.
The use of CS:GO as a platform for news delivery capitalizes on the game's popularity in Russia, where other western platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube have faced restrictions.
Helsingin Sanomat's approach showcases the potential for innovative journalism in the digital age, utilizing gaming platforms to inform and engage audiences in novel ways.
The anonymous map designers who collaborated with Helsingin Sanomat emphasized their desire to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin's war crimes and propaganda to light, highlighting the senseless aggression Russia has displayed in Ukraine, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of civilians, including children.

 

As the Russian government continues to crack down on free speech and media coverage of the invasion of Ukraine, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily newspaper, has found a creative way to bypass censorship and deliver the truth to the Russian population.

Utilizing the popular video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), the newspaper has crafted a custom map embedded with crucial information about the ongoing conflict.

The Struggle for Truth in Russia

Since March 2022, referring to the invasion of Ukraine as a “war” has been deemed a criminal offense in Russia.

The government’s strict enforcement of censorship has led to several independent Russian news outlets shutting down and the BBC withdrawing its operations from the country.

Journalists who report unfavorably about Russia face accusations of treason and espionage, with some even being detained.

Helsingin Sanomat’s ingenious approach capitalizes on the widespread popularity of CS:GO in Russia, where the game is played by nearly four million people, predominantly young men.

The game’s servers have remained operational in Russia, unlike other western platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube, which have faced restrictions.

Utilizing the popular video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), the newspaper has crafted a custom map embedded with crucial information about the ongoing conflict.

Unearthing the Hidden Truth

The custom map, named de_voyna (with “voyna” meaning “war” in Russian), features a concealed underground room located near a symbolic flame.

Upon entering the room, players are presented with newspaper headlines about the conflict in Ukraine, a map pinpointing locations attacked by Russian soldiers, and a table displaying the number of Russians killed.

The room also shares the heart-wrenching story of a Ukrainian civilian, Yuriy Glodan, who lost his family in a missile strike.

In order to guide Russian players to the secret room, the map designers have incorporated several clues.

For example, the map is set in an unnamed battleground location evoking a Slavic city, and the hidden room is situated near an eternal flame monument—a familiar practice commemorating World War II in Russia.

Raising Awareness Through Gaming

Helsingin Sanomat released the map on May 2, and its editor-in-chief, Antero Mukka, has expressed hopes that even if only a handful of young men in Russia are prompted to think about the situation in Ukraine because of the game, the effort is worthwhile.

The newspaper did not seek permission from game publisher Valve to create the map, as the game encourages user-generated content.

The anonymous map designers who collaborated with Helsingin Sanomat stated their desire to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war crimes and propaganda to light.

They emphasized the senseless aggression Russia has displayed in Ukraine, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of civilians, including children.

Although it remains to be seen how long the map will remain available once the Russian government becomes aware of its existence, this creative approach highlights the power of journalism in defying censorship and authoritarian restrictions on free press.

Helsingin Sanomat’s unique strategy showcases the potential for innovative journalism in the digital age, utilizing gaming platforms to inform and engage audiences in novel ways.

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