Want to Help Ukraine? Play 2048

The official Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine is promoting a new way to fight in the war against Russia: Simply go on your smartphone, visit playforukraine.life, and start playing 2048.

So, how does it work? Here is the direct translation of the Ministry’s caption (thank you Google Translate):

Play 2048, help block Russian government websites. How cool is that?

Ever since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February, the Ukrainian government has been recruiting IT specialists to be a part of a “Ukrainian IT Army,” and so far over 300,000 volunteers from Ukraine and all over the world have joined the battle. These developers have been taking advantage of various means, including this incredibly cool one, to disrupt official Russian government websites and servers. While the Russian state sponsored and private hacking industry is one of the most developed and “effective” in the world, Ukrainians are fighting back, one game at a time.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ukraine is providing a stiff resistance on cyber front: IT is a highly developed industry in Ukraine, with over 220,000 specialists as of 2020, which was up from 185,000 in 2018. It’s a flourishing sphere, and rightfully so: With an average salary of $2,400 a month, IT specialists make five times the amount of money than the average Ukrainian, and being a developer is seen as a highly respected and coveted line of work.

Through my work as an English teacher I’ve had the opportunity to work with well over a dozen IT specialists in Ukraine, and during group and individual lessons I’ve gotten to learn a bit about the IT sphere over the years. One of my big takeaways is that a good portion of my students got into IT as a way to pave a better future for themselves and for their family, even if it wasn’t their number one passion. One of my students, Nastia, has a masters in biology but became a developer due to low pay and corruption in the sciences. She doesn’t love IT and has dreams of going back into biology, but for now IT is the best way for her to make a decent living. Another student, Irina, loves psychology and has talked to me about becoming a therapist, but leaving her lucrative job as a UX designer would be a difficult decision to say the least.

I’m not saying that all IT specialists are like this, because many of my students are extremely passionate about their work. I’m just emphasizing that even for people who aren’t drawn to IT, there is more than enough motivation to push them into the field. This all helped catalyze a bustling Ukrainian IT industry that was developing at a rapid pace until February 24th.

Although many of my students and other IT specialists around Ukraine were able to relocate and have continued working at their respective companies, they now have the option of putting their efforts towards fighting for Ukraine in the best way they know how: Creating games like this one that can block Russian websites from assisting the armed forces. Kudos to the Ukrainian government for utilizing the strengths of their people and making an effort to partner with some of these IT companies.

It’s not everyday you see official government pages promoting ways for average citizens to hack the Russian government, but with such a developed and talented IT community in Ukraine, it would be a shame not to take advantage.

Donate to Project Hope: https://www.projecthope.org/crisis-in-ukraine-how-to-help/03/2022/

Donate to Razom for Ukraine: https://razomforukraine.org/donate/

If you want to stay updated on what’s going on in Ukraine, you can subscribe to my blog by going to the homepage and entering your email.

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