Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How This Newspaper Used Counter-Strike To Get Around Russian Laws

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 shocked the world and prompted responses from other countries and private entities alike. Gamers and the gaming industry were no exception with major developers like Nintendo and Sony issuing statements condemning the invasion and many publishers cutting off support for Russia. Gamers have also found their hobby brought into the conflict in strange ways over the course of the war. Recently, it was discovered that Ukrainian soldiers are experimenting with using Valve's Steam Deck to control remote turrets in combat. Now, it seems journalists are using the game world to report on this real-world conflict and share information with people who might otherwise be cut off from accurate reporting.

Since the war began, the Russian government under Vladimir Putin has imposed draconian measures on its population to control the spread of information and silence dissent. As Russia has struggled to achieve its goals in Ukraine, it has engaged in mass arrests of protesters, used its control of its mainstream media to spread pro-Russia propaganda, and criminalized critical reporting of the conflict. This has left many Russian citizens in the dark regarding the reality of the war. One newspaper in Finland, however, has found a way to use "Counter-Strike" to circumvent Russian laws and get news to the Russian people.

Russian gamers can find a secret news room in a custom Counter-Strike map

Reuters has reported on efforts by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat to get news about the war to Russian citizens that would otherwise be cut off from outside information. As Russia has banned free reporting on the war and restricted foreign outlets from publishing in Russia and Russians from accessing foreign outlets online, the paper has found a way to smuggle in news through the game Counter-Strike.

Helsingin Sanomat has created a custom map for the game, named "de_voyna" from the Russian word for war, and hidden a secret room in that map that is full of pictures and reporting on the war and Russian atrocities committed in Ukraine. As "Counter-Strike" is still available in Russia and popular worldwide, it's hoped that Russian gamers will be able to stumble on this map and this room, giving them an opportunity to view this information.

It's too early to tell if this effort will be successful or how the Russian government may respond. Still, protests in Russia indicate that there are citizens who oppose the war and are eager for accurate reporting, and some Russian gamers have spoken out against the war, so this would seem to be a good community to target when seeking to spread information. Advocates for a free press, opponents of the war, and gamers alike will want to keep following this story for updates.