Some people might think of “Minecraft” as a fun game that lets players run wild with their imagination. However, those who actually play it know that the open-world game is far more than a children’s activity.
A recent creation from the press-freedom nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders shows just how impactful the game can be. A team of more than 20 designers worked to build a sprawling digital library filled with books from journalists and authors who have been censored in their country of origin.
The experiment is a clever loophole that is allowing readers around the world to bypass censorship laws.
Truth Finds a Way
Several countries around the world have imposed strict censorship laws. These restrict citizens from accessing certain websites, obtaining select books, and discussing controversial topics. However, access to information should be a human right that everyone can enjoy.
That’s what the team from Reporters Without Borders believes. It’s also why they created a massive library composed of 12.5 million “Minecraft” blocks. A team of 24 builders hailing from 16 countries spent more than 250 hours assembling the building. BlockWorks, a popular “Minecraft” design company, also helped with the project.
The spectacular building is complete with multiple wings, ornate detailing, and a rotunda that showcases flags from around the world. Dubbed the Uncensored Library, the digital attraction features works written by authors from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Egypt, and Vietnam.
Various articles are available in the form of “Minecraft” books throughout the library. Each of the digital building’s six wings is dedicated to a different country. For instance, players can simply walk into the Russian wing and start reading a book that contains an article from grani.ru, a well-known blocked site in the country that reports on the government. While players are free to read to their heart’s desire, the text of the books cannot be changed.
The Uncensored Library is available to any “Minecraft” player who wants to visit. According to CNET, “The library is reachable through ‘Minecraft’ via the server address visit.uncensoredlibrary.com”
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders uploaded a virtual tour of the library on YouTube. You can see it in its entirety in the player below.
Although it’s clear that this loophole is a fantastic way to give readers free access to information, some wonder how it is able to make it past censorship firewalls.
Understandably, “Minecraft” isn’t on the radar for most restrictive countries. Further complicating matters is the fact that the Uncensored Library is disguised in plain sight as an ordinary “Minecraft” world and the censored articles it contains are mixed in with other game elements. That makes it hard to track them down.
Moreover, several developers who helped work on the library say that attempts to stifle it by hacking the server it’s housed on would be unsuccessful.
In the event that such an attack occurs, another server could simply take over and host the library. Finally, since players can download and re-upload the library themselves, it will be incredibly difficult (likely impossible) to fully eradicate.
As of now, Microsoft hasn’t commented on this use of its popular game.