Two years after the acclaimed project “The Uncensored Playlist”, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) wanted to find a way to interest people for the importance of press freedom. Especially the millions of young people who grow up in oppressive countries with strict online censorship.
But how to overcome strong firewalls and at the same time excite young people to engage in the difficult topic of press freedom? By bringing it to their world: Minecraft.
Because even in countries where almost all media is blocked – Minecraft, one of the world’s biggest computer games, with more than 126 million active players per month, is easily accessible. And Minecraft has books that can be freely written and read inside the game.
RSF used this loophole to build a huge digital library in Minecraft: The Uncensored Library.
And for the first time ever, a game became a tool to overcome censorship.
Describe the execution
Censored articles from acclaimed journalists became uncensored Minecraft books, available in English and the language of their origin inside the library. With a custom-made resource pack, the appearance of gameplay elements was redesigned (e.g. bookshelves, lamps, picture frames, building blocks and lecterns) to give the library a unique look. It was built in a collaborative design process by 24 people from 16 countries, working together in the virtual space of Minecraft. It took 12.5 million Lego-like blocks to build the library and it uses Minecraft’s in-game resources in an innovative way to create an outstanding gameplay experience. A monument for press freedom where young people can educate themselves in a playful way about the dangers of press censorship. By bringing Minecraft’s creative potential to a new level and combining it with an impressive design, the library made sure to have a jaw-dropping effect on the gaming community. An unprecedented use of Minecraft – and Wikipedia lists it among the most notable Minecraft servers of all time.
On World Day Against Cyber Censorship the library opened its doors in Minecraft. Along with a whole campaign featuring social media posts, YouTube videos and a website, giving background information about the project and the journalists. Here visitors can access the library by an interactive walkthrough outside Minecraft and download the library map “censorship-protected” by blockchain technology. It can then be hosted again in Minecraft – allowing it to multiply fast and making it impossible to censor. (+200K downloads already)
The Uncensored Library is designed to have a long-term impact and is constantly being updated. Three more countries were added in 2021. It will stay open indefinitely and more articles are being added.