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Helsingin Sanomat’s CS:GO Map Offering Independent Journalism Blocked in Russia

To provide Russian players with access to “independent journalism” on the war in Ukraine, Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, created a custom Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) map called de_voyna. 

However, recent reports indicate that the map is now blocked in Russia, preventing its intended audience from accessing it.

Helsingin Sanomat revealed in a recent article that de_voyna isn’t available for download anymore within Russia, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that players using virtual private networks (VPNs) [1] are also unable to access the map. 

While it would be challenging for Russian authorities to obstruct a single CS:GO map, the newspaper believes that the game service provider Valve in the United States has implemented the blocking.

CSGO de voyna map

Valve, the creators of CS:GO, has remained tight-lipped regarding this issue. Helsingin Sanomat confirmed that the company did not give comments upon their request. Further attempts to reach Valve for additional information have also been met with silence.

The de_voyna map, which is still accessible outside Russia on the Steam Workshop, features a hidden room containing news headlines, images, and updates on the ongoing war in Ukraine from Helsingin Sanomat. 

This unique approach aimed to provide Russian players with a channel for receiving news and information that would be usually unavailable. A video by 3kliksphilip, offering an overview of the map, has gained traction among those interested in exploring the restricted content.

Helsingin Sanomat’s editor-in-chief, Antero Mukka, explained the motivation behind the creation of the map earlier this year, stating, “Russians have very little chance to receive independent information about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the gaming world and gamers themselves are still left unchecked. That’s why we hid a newspaper in the world’s most popular war game.”

As tensions continue to rise and the conflict in Ukraine remains a global concern, blocking de_voyna within Russia raises questions about the freedom of information and the limits imposed on virtual platforms. 

CSGO gameplay

While the exact reasoning behind the map’s blockage remains to be determined, its unavailability in Russia has highlighted the challenges faced by those seeking to provide uncensored news and independent perspectives to players in restrictive media environments.

It is worth noting that Counter-Strike 2 is slated for release this summer, and it remains to be seen how this incident will impact discussions surrounding the intersection of gaming and journalism and the availability of alternative news sources within the gaming community.

Mathew has nursed a love of video games since childhood. Now, as an adult, he enjoys playing challenging games as much as he enjoys relating with other gamers. Matthew created Hypernia to give gamers like himself accurate and reliable information about games, servers, communication protocols, and much more.

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