A Finnish newspaper is celebrating World Press Freedom Day at the moment by strolling the stroll. Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s greatest day by day paper, created a Counter-Strike: International Offensive map containing a secret room. Contained in the hidden blood-red chamber, gamers discover real-world multimedia storytelling about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — sneaking some much-needed journalism into a rustic inundated with propaganda.
The builders that the newspaper labored with on the map left some clues for Russian gamers to search out it. First, it takes place in an unnamed battleground location imitating “a Slavic metropolis.” Moreover, the map’s identify, de_voyna, is a reference to the Russian phrase “voyna,” which interprets to “conflict.” (That description is prohibited in Russia when describing the invasion; Putin’s authorities insists on calling it a “particular army operation”).
The obscured room additionally has a number of hints to assist Russian gamers discover it: It’s positioned close to an everlasting flame monument (a burning automotive), a standard apply commemorating WWII (or “the Nice Patriotic Struggle” because it’s recognized in Russia) that will likely be acquainted to Russians. A lightweight additionally hangs above the doorway, one other breadcrumb indicating the darkish passageway could differ from others close by. Lastly, gamers can spot the room by transferring the digital camera round after an in-game loss of life.
After strolling down the stairway entrance, gamers see a darkly lit room with pink lights hanging from the ceiling, casting a foreboding crimson tone over the house. Subsequent, gamers see a headline on the wall reverse the doorway, studying: “Counterstrike of the Free Press.” Close by, a map reveals civilian targets hit by Russian armies. Moreover, three partitions are lined with photos from real-life information tales displaying a few of Russia’s atrocities: the Bucha bloodbath (the place the Russian army executed Ukrainian civilians on the street and buried them in a mass grave), a narrative of a person whose household was killed by a Russian cruise missile and a depend of the estimated 70,000 Russian troopers killed within the conflict. Lastly, a Russian-language radio voice-over tells every story when transferring nearer to a information merchandise.
The unnamed (to keep away from harassment or worse) recreation designers that Helsingin Sanomat labored with had expertise designing lots of of CS: GO maps. They pitched in “to have the ability to be concerned in making such a map with a humanitarian objective linked to the true world,” they informed the publication. “Russia’s mindless aggression on Ukraine has killed tens of 1000’s of civilians, together with kids. The least we will do is to deliver Putin’s conflict crimes and Russian propaganda to gentle.”
Helsingin Sanomat editor-in-chief Antero Mukka told Reuters that his paper didn’t ask for writer Valve’s permission to incorporate the map for the reason that recreation encourages user-created content material. “If some younger males in Russia, simply due to this recreation, occur to suppose for a few seconds what’s going on in Ukraine then it is value it,” he mentioned.
If you wish to help with the trigger, Helsingin Sanomat recommends enjoying the de_voyna map, which ought to assist improve its in-game visibility. Though it’s laborious to think about the locale remaining playable for lengthy after Putin’s authorities learns about it, it’s an inspiring — and extremely inventive — manner of defying the authoritarian regime’s free-press restrictions.