In a smart and creative move to bypass Russian censorship and raise awareness about the ongoing war in Ukraine, Finnish news organisation Helsingin Sanomat has taken an unconventional route to spread information to Russian citizens. The outlet commissioned the creation of a custom map for the popular video game Counter-Strike, which remains widely played in Russia despite the country’s restrictions on foreign media access.
The custom map, designed to resemble a Slavic city, features a secret room that players can access when their in-game character dies. Inside the room, players are confronted with real-life war news and accounts of the atrocities occurring in Ukraine, including the Bucha massacre and the civilian casualties caused by Russian military actions.
The project aims to shed light on the heavily censored and distorted information available to Russian citizens, who are often unaware of the actual situation in Ukraine due to state-controlled media’s portrayal of Russia’s actions as a heroic battle against terrorism. This creative approach to journalism not only highlights the importance of press freedom but also serves as an innovative means of circumventing Russian censorship.
Helsingin Sanomat’s campaign has garnered attention in the gaming community and beyond, sparking discussions on the role of journalism in informing citizens in countries with limited press freedom. As the custom map gains traction, the campaign serves as a reminder of the power of innovation in the face of censorship and the importance of press freedom in today’s global political climate.