Reporters Without Borders has found a radical new platform for distributing banned journalism in some of the world’s most repressive countries: Minecraft.
The advocacy group has opened a new virtual space on a dedicated server for the popular video game called ‘The Uncensored Library,’ accessible to any of Minecraft’s 145 million monthly players.
Inspired by the neoclassical architecture of ancient Rome and Greece, the library will be filled with books containing the text of news stories that have been censored in their countries of origin.
To begin with, the library will be stocked with stories from five countries that rank near the bottom of Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, including Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.
The stories will be published in English and whichever language they were originally written in.
The text of the stories can’t be edited or altered, but anyone with access to the Minecraft server hosting the library will be able to read them.
The project is backed by several prominent international journalists who’ve had their work, or the work of someone they loved, censored, including Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Dai, Russian journalist Yulia Berezovskaia, and Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
‘In many countries around the world, there is no free access to information,’ Reporters Without Borders’ Christian Mihr said in a statement on the group’s website.
‘Websites are blocked, independent newspapers are banned and the press is controlled by the state. Young people grow up without being able to form their own opinions.’
‘By using Minecraft, the world’s most popular computer game, as a medium, we give them access to independent information.’
The library’s virtual opening was timed to coincide with World Day Against Cyber Censorship, an annual observance that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.
The Library was assembled by 24 ‘builders’ from 16 countries, using 125 million blocks, and features a large central rotunda that measures 984 feet across.
The project was the result of a collaboration between Reporters Without Borders, the creative agency DDB German, design studio BlockWorks, and the production company Media Monks.