Journalists use CS:GO to share Ukraine war reports with Russian players

Journalists use CS:GO to share Ukraine war reports with Russian players

Media organisations are using Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to share newspaper reports about the war in Ukraine with Russian gamers.

If players download the de_voyna map – a recreation of a war-torn Eastern European city – there is a room in which press clippings, headlines, maps and photos concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Voyna is a Russian word for 'war' that is notably prohibited in the country when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine. 

This initiative has been headed up by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The publication has been blocked in Russia, but Valve has continued to operate Steam in the region, allowing the aforementioned content to make its way behind enemy lines.

"Russians have very little chance to receive independent information about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine," editor-in-chief Antero Mukka said in a statement.

"However, the gaming world and gamers themselves are still left unchecked. That’s why we decided to hide a newspaper inside the world’s most popular war game."

“As the Russian government has de facto suppressed its national press and blocked access to foreign media, Counter-Strike has remained as one of the rare channels that allow us to communicate independent information to Russians about real events from the war.”

They continued: "Ordinary Russians know practically nothing about the war crimes and atrocities toward civilians committed by the Russian army. One of the most touching stories in the secret room is about a Ukrainian man that went to the store. While he was there, Russian troops killed his family with a missile strike. The secret room built into the game is meant to force Russian gamers to face what's really going on in the war in Ukraine."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.