During the Corona crisis, censorship and political influence in the press have been on the rise, as exemplified by China and Hungary. A recent project to make critical journalism publicly available worldwide uses a novel platform: Minecraft.
Minecraft is a delightful pastime. The open-world adventure game invites players to build their own colourful worlds, fight cute monsters and connect with one another. Simple graphics, reliable servers and easygoing entertainment attract more than 126 million active users a month. Minecraft is available with no restrictions in nearly all countries.
Cartels, politically motivated murders and censorship have no place in Minecraft. At least not officially. The NGO Reporters without borders is making use of the reach and independent structure of the game with “The Uncensored Library”.
No Censorship for Miles
The library includes articles, magazine pages and blog excerpts. The reports are from journalists who are banned from writing by their governments, whose lives are in danger due to their publications – or who have been killed for their reportage. Explosive content delivered in playful style.
Contributions include writings from the journalist Javier Valdez who paid with his life for uncovering the political influence of the Sinaloa cartel, Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of Saudi-Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi, and the Vietnamese human rights activist Nguyen Van Dai, who, as a result of calling for greater separation of powers and more democracy, was jailed for 15 years. After serving two years of his sentence, he was deported to Germany, where he helped to build the library. Minecraft allows him to keep publishing, even within Vietnam where Ip-Addresses are constantly tracked and analysed by the government.
Minecraft is not illegal and the vivid online game protects both journalists and users: currently it’s not possible to track whether a player has read an article or communicated with others.
Not only does the project exploit a loophole in the online surveillance of totalitarian states, it also modernises journalism. Modern journalism seeks readers out in the domain where they spend a lot of time and are open to new input, instead of enforcing loyalty to a medium.