The Uncensored Library: Censored Journalist’s Break Free With Minecraft

Released on the 12th of March, 2020 by Reporters without Borders and DDB. The Uncensored Library has 5 wings. They focus each wing on a country without Freedom of the Press and showcases works by censored or attacked journalists. They completely based the library in Mojang Studio’s hit game Minecraft.

The Uncensored Library – Reporters without borders
Credit: Blockworks

The project came about when German Marketing agency DDB noticed a trend. Many players used games to meet and talk in virtual spaces instead of playing. The Library was created by UK-based design company Blockworks. Blockworks is a studio that completely specialises in working in Minecraft. The studio’s head, James Delaney, has been playing the game for over 8 years.

The creators use Minecraft and blockchain storage to prevent surveillance and censorship. As a result, the library’s map is completely functional offline. Its blockchain cloud storage is nearly impossible to hack. A blockchain scatters data into multiple pieces, forcing a would-be hacker to attack and penetrate the data piece by piece. The map has currently been downloaded over 200,000 times. Because of this, the Library cannot be taken down or erased. Even if the creators wanted it to be. Furthermore, Minecraft has already passed censorship bureau’s in many of these countries, meaning it is considered safe by each government.

“In oppressive countries that increasingly restrict the rights of their citizens, young people especially tend to flee into games such as Minecraft that still provide freedom in virtual worlds,”

Says DDB senior art director Sandro Heierli.

Blocks Against Blocks

Uncensored Library' Wins Top Honors at ADC's 100th Awards
Credit: Blockworks

The Library features work from censored journalists in Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Each nation has a dedicated wing in the Library, with a 6th focused on Reporters without Borders themselves. The library itself shows endless rows of books, but these are purely aesthetic. The actual books are at the centre of the room. Each wing’s architecture is made to represent the state of freedom of information in each country. Such as a wide labyrinth to represent the difficulty of accessing information in Vietnam.

Of the 5 nations, journalists are most at threat in Mexico, Kristin Bässe notes. Bässe is the project manager for The Uncensored Library, as well as a Reporters Without Borders public relations officer. Because, she states, in Mexico, the government and cartels harshly and violently crackdown on any voices they feel are dissident. There is a memorial of 12 journalists inside Mexico’s wing in the library. The wings centrepiece is reporting from Javier Valdez Cárdenas, before his murder in 2017. The Saudi Arabian wing contains similar tributes to Jamal Khashoggi.

The uncensored library has most recently opened up a new room. This room will focus completely on information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it will show how reporting of the virus in over 10 different countries has been affected.

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