Minecraft ‘loophole’ Library


Minecraft ‘loophole’ Library

It began as an online forum project and has since become the most popular video game ever. But now Minecraft is being used in a way that its creator could not have imagined.

The hub of free speech has taken the iconic game, which involved placing Lego-like blocks together with more than 145,000,000 players each month, and turned it into an icon.

To host articles written by journalists that were censored online, a virtual library was meticulously designed.

You can find the work of Jamal Khashoggi (the journalist who was killed by Saudi agents in 2018), among many other books in the library.

Minecraft declined to comment.

Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization that seeks to protect the freedom of information around the world, created the project. Blockworks, the design studio responsible for the Minecraft library, built it.

Christian Mihr, the executive director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, said that Minecraft was a good project because he doesn't believe it is a threat to governments that censor their media.

He said that Minecraft was chosen because of its accessibility. It is available in every country. The game is not censored as other games that are suspected to be political.

"There are large communities in each country featured, that's why it was suggested - it is a loophole to censorship."

He stated that the authors were selected to represent countries where press freedom was restricted, so that people in those communities could access their work.

He clarified that permissions had to be sought before republishing in a library.

"We did not put any content into the library without the permission of the respective authors - if they're still alive.

"In the Jamal Khashoggi case, we spoke to family members - in regard of people who have died, and the safety their families."

Nick Feamster, Neubauer Professor of Computer Science, at the University of Chicago, stated to the BBC that the library could beat the censors but was concerned about the response of governments.

He said that it was an interesting idea, but that there were still issues. The articles are being distributed online and governments will be aware. It won't be foolproof against a determined enemy.

He stated that the strength of the library was due to its use of Entanglement, which is the mixing of censored material and video games in the eyes of the editors.

He said, "By entangling the two things you force them all to share content." "You can't censor one without the other."

Helmi Noman, a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society, stated that he believed the library would have a small audience.

He said that "censored content is dynamic and diverse" and that users prefer to use approaches that don't preselect or compartmentalise content in particular spaces online.

"Any approach that doesn't create a seamless, secure browsing experience across the entire web, social media, and direct messaging apps will likely fail."

Due to the number of players trying to log in simultaneously, the server could not be accessed regularly. It has been visited by 3,889 users from 75 countries, and has been downloaded more than 7,000 times.

After two hours of effort, the BBC finally visited the virtual library and asked its users what they thought.

SoulfulGenie stated that they believed it needed more books and a section on North Korea. Another user called it "ingenious" and said that the library could be downloaded and reuploaded again by other users. "It is easy to replicate and therefore difficult to kill."

ReduxPL said that the library "looks amazing indeed".

Blockworks took 250 hours to design the library, which was completed by 24 people from 16 countries.

James Delaney, the company's managing director, stated to the BBC that the goal was to create a classic design that was "on the edge of fantasy".

He said that it was plausible as a building, but is pushing the limits of possible.

"We chose a design in the neoclassical style. It's very similar to the British Museum or New York's public libraries.

He said that Minecraft was improvisational in its core, so builders weren't restricted to following a set design.

He said that when there are many people working on the same task, "people can see each other's work and must respond in real-time." It is a reactive way of working that can change the look.

"The style is meant to symbolize power and authority. We wanted to flip that around.

"It's not representing the power of either the government or the regime. It's representing freedom of expression."