Press censorship restored through the world of Minecraft

   What better way is there to escape the anxieties surrounding the uncertainty of where our world will lead us in these uncertain times than by sitting down and having control over our own peaceful world in the popular game of Minecraft? The topic of fake news has been one stressor for many during this pandemic, and many have resorted to avoiding the news in order to alleviate these worries. There are theories that press networks have been inflating death counts, hiding the real statistics, and inducing fear amongst the nation, but what we take for granted is one of our first amendment rights in this country一 freedom of press. 

   In many countries, websites, social media and blogs are controlled by oppressive leaders, and they do not have the same liberties as us. In order to share the messages of oppressed journalists around the world, Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to defend the right to freedom of information, has found a way to bypass this censorship, through the world of Minecraft.

   Minecraft is the world’s most successful computer game, maintaining its relevance since its initial release in 2009. The game consists of two different game modes, allowing its players to build whatever their imaginations desire. This being said, the possibilities are endless in the game due to its availability in almost every country in the world, even when other media is censored or blocked. Reporters Without Borders noticed this, and used Minecraft’s platform as a loophole to shine light on media censorship via The Uncensored Library.

   The Uncensored Library is a server and map released by Reporters without Borders and created by map designers at BlockWorks, civil union DDB Berlin, and digital production company MediaMonks. The map contains a massive virtual library, with wings dedicated to certain countries including Mexico, Russia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, who all face heavy media censorship. Each of these wings contains articles that have been banned in their respective countries, focusing on censorship, unjust punishment, and other critiques of the writer’s government. These articles are available in both English and their original language, and an additional room has even been added to cover issues of press freedom surrounding the topic of COVID-19 in these oppressed countries. 

   When asked about whether or not the library could be banned in these oppressed countries, Tobias Natterer, Senior Copywriter for DDB Berlin stated, “The library has been downloaded about 100.000 times and it is impossible to stop it.”

   As a young journalist and an occasional Minecraft player myself, The Uncensored Library can greatly impact press freedom, and its defense. 

   “As we see in the US, the situation can change fast with one election and people need to be aware of the importance of the topic regardless what country they live in,” says Natterer. 

   The teams behind The Uncensored Library are currently evaluating possibilities of expanding the map to feature works from more countries that face media censorship. As young adults like ourselves, we have been encouraged to spread the word about this issue of censorship, whether it is posting about it on social media, making a YouTube video, whatever they can; the more people know about it, the better. 

   For more information on The Uncensored Library, you can visit their website at https://uncensoredlibrary.com/en, or support Reporters Without Borders at https://rsf.org/en.

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