The largest edition of Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, tried to convey independent information about the war in Ukraine to the Russian audience with the help of a cult online shooter. The newspaper created its own map for the game, which was called "de_voyna". Players move around a map reminiscent of a small Eastern European town, where, traditionally for this game, there are two positions for planting a bomb: one in a warehouse, and the second at a monument in the central square.
The map received mostly positive reviews, with 982 ratings of 5 stars out of 5. “Looks just like a typical Eastern European city. However, there is something hidden underground here, ”the description of the map on the Steam service says. Hidden on the map is a "secret room" in which Finnish journalists posted information about the losses of Russian troops in the war with Ukraine and about their war crimes: shelling of civilian facilities, executions of ordinary citizens and mass graves. On the walls of the secret room there is a map of shelling, photographs of mass graves and damaged houses, images of the graves of Russian soldiers.
Helsingin Sanomat Editor-in-Chief Antero Mukka explained the idea of creating a map in the popular shooter with Russian censorship, since most independent media inside Russia are blocked and inaccessible without VPN services. CS:GO remains one of the most popular shooters in the world, including in Russia, so this decision seemed interesting to the publication. The action was timed to the Day of Press Freedom, which was celebrated on May 3.
“Because we are very concerned about the situation with freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Russia, we decided that some new channels could be found to provide the Russian audience with reliable, independent journalism, for example, about the situation in Ukraine,” Mukka told Reuters.
He also noted that the publication did not ask permission from Valve, the owner of the game and the Steam platform, to create a map for CS:GO. The rules of the game allow you to add custom content, including the cards themselves. However, Steam users disagreed with Mukka. In the comments on the map, many pointed out that the content should be apolitical and that in this way the Finnish publication violated the rules set by Valve. However, already on May 4, comments on the map disappeared, and the location itself is still available for the game.
“If some young people in Russia, just because of this game, think for a couple of seconds about what is happening in Ukraine, then it was worth it,” Mukka concluded.
The reaction of the Russian-speaking audience was extremely negative. A lot of comments contained insults to the map developers, Valve, and Ukraine. Some users assured that "Russia will get to the authors and to those who are sitting in Washington."
Online games have become one of the platforms for ideological rivalry between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian forces. Thus, pro-Ukrainian activists came to a recent online rally at the monument to Zhirinovsky and tried to disrupt this event. The representative of the Liberal Democratic Party subsequently justified himself that allegedly about 12 thousand people came to the rally, but the server was originally designed for only 100 participants. At the same time, they were forbidden to mine or build anything, as the organizers feared that those who came to the rally would destroy the monument to Zhirinovsky.