Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières, are leading a unique movement inside the well known game Minecraft, based around placing blocks. With more than 250 million players each year, the game has for thee first time been considered as a hub of free speech.
Governments around the world bring down the “ban hammer” on journalistic freedoms, with the attempt to censor their local and national press, a virtual library has been created to host articles written by journalists which were censored online.
The players are storing worldwide news for the public through a creative loophole, using ingame mechanics and books to preserve articles from around the world.
“Inside, you can find articles and information about the journalists that are being censored in their own countries,” said Robert-Jan Blonk, senior interactive producer at production company MediaMonks, which helped build the library, in an interview with Fast Company. “We share these stories through the books that live in that library, and people can just openly read them, because even in the countries… where these journalists are from, you’re able to play Minecraft.”
The library itself, which also received some design help from design studio BlockWorks and creative agency DDB Germany, features a fantastic circular rotunda with flags from countries around the world, off of which you can find each of the wings in the library organized by country.
All Readers and gamers can also choose to download the game and map, and for example “walk” their characters into the Russia wing, pick up a book, and read an article from grani.ru, a blocked site in Russia that reports on the government and protests in the country.
Even the work of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist assassinated by Saudi agents in 2018, can be accessed and read among the overabundance of books in the library.
The contents of the library can not be changed by players; however they can add more. If a repressive government tries to shut down the server hosting the game, other servers and hosting backups can take over in its place according to Fast Company.
“With so many people playing the game, there’s always a version live, so they cannot take it down,” says Blonk.
According to BBC The server can hold a maximum of 100 players at a time, making it extreemly hard to acces because of the sheer number of players trying to log on at once. Despite this cap, the server been visited by 3,889 players from 75 different countries and the world has been downloaded over 7,000 times.
The library itself has been created with an impressive scale. Because of its enormous size, multiple teleports have been set up so visitors can avoid getting lost while exploring. The first thing you see as you approach the structure is statue of a fist holding a pen the official Reporters Without Borders symbol for press freedom.
As far as all digital hosts, for any kind of sensitive information go, The Uncensored Library in Minecraft is the first of its kind. Safeguarding information within an online video game is an idea that definintely has never come up before.
Check out the The Uncensored Library – The Film Created by the RWB.