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Russia uses popular video games “Minecraft” and “World of Tanks” – New York Times reports

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Russia uses video games to promote its own propaganda and weaken the arguments of the West and Ukraine defending itself against a Russian military invasion, the New York Times wrote in an analysis published on Sunday. According to the American daily, Moscow uses popular games such as “Minecraft” and “World of Tanks” for this.

The New York Times noted, for example, that in Minecraft, a game owned by Microsoft, Russian players recreated the battle for Soledar, a city on Ukrainewhich Russian forces captured in January this year.

In “World of Tanks”, a multiplayer war game played between participants on the Internet, for example, the tank parade of the Soviet Union in Moscow in 1945 was reconstructed. The tutorial for Minecraft users also advises how to build a mast with the Russian flag in the game, presents it over the illegally annexed Ukrainian Lugansk and proclaims the slogan “Glory to Russia” – we can read in the American daily.


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Wagnerians “cool and dangerous”

As journalists note, Kremlin propaganda is also present on popular Internet platforms, such as Discord or Steam. Head of Microsoft’s threat intelligence team, Clint Watts, told researchers at New York University’s Stern School of Business that both platforms are used by supporters of the Wagner Group, a Russian military mercenary formation that participated in the Battle of Bakhmut and is now stationed in Belarus. As he said, the “propaganda transmitted there is mainly aimed at making the Wagnerians and the Russian army look cool and dangerous.”

Wagnerians as “instructors”. They train Belarusian soldiers Ministry of Defense of Belarus/Telegram

In this virtual world – as the “NYT” writes – some players spread the letter Z, the symbol of the Russian troops that invaded last year, accept false Russian territorial claims in the Crimea and elsewhere, and – reaching for the propaganda narrative Vladimir Putin – denigrates Ukrainians as Nazis and blames the West for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The gaming world is a platform that can influence public opinion and reach audiences, especially young audiences,” Tanya Bekker, a researcher at ActiveFence, a cybersecurity firm that has identified several examples of Russian propaganda in Minecraft, told reporters.

Propaganda involvement in games

The Kremlin’s use of video games shows how persistent the government of Putin, accused of war crimes, is exploiting Western social media and popular consumer products. The Russian president, the newspaper noted, has spoken publicly about the gaming industry as a tool for instilling values ​​and suggested that games “should be at the intersection of art and education.”

Molfar, a Ukrainian online threat consulting company, has identified more than a dozen instances of pro-Kremlin propaganda in Minecraft, Roblox, World of Tanks, World of Warships, Fly Corp, Armored Warfare and War Thunder. – reports The New York Times. As we read, almost all of the quoted headlines praised the victory of the Soviet Union over the Nazis Germany, a theme used by Putin and his advisers to build support for the current invasion. Some of them had clear ties to political parties or government agencies.


Joseph Brown, an assistant professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia who taught video game development in Russia for five years, shared with The New York Times his analysis of Moscow’s propaganda message driven by video games and other forms of media.

“They need to get everyone back into the war,” Brown said. It’s just another part of the endless propaganda. In whatever medium they can reach you, they will reach you,” he added.

Main photo source: EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY

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