Playstation made a big announcement this morning that they would be partnering with Fortnite developers EPIC to bring an immersive and educational experience to the game.
March Through Time will teleport players nearly 60 years in the past to a re-imagined Washington, DC called D.C. 63. Developed by members of the Fortnite Creative community, this fully immersive experience will allow players to witness the Civil Rights teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King. This experience was built by members ChaseJackman, GQUanoe, XWDFr, and YU7A. In D.C. 63, players will travel to the Lincoln Memorial and the United States National Mall where Dr. King made his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The Experience will also feature museum-inspired points of interest and quests you can complete with other players. These quests should bring an important reminder that relates to Dr. King’s speech: We move forward when we work together.
I truly feel like this event trivializes the work that Dr. King has done for Civil Rights. I do understand that getting people involved and knowledgeable about his legacy is important, but this isn’t the way to go about it. Concert events in Fortnite are great. Discussing racial inequality, anti-blackness, bigotry and discrimination with Gamers™ is a recipe for disaster and memes. The severity of Dr. King’s legacy should be taken into account when trying to convey it to people who might not get it. Gamers™ have notoriously and feverishly acclaimed that gaming is “too Woke” or “too political.” This feeds into that narrative and will unfortunately have the opposite effect than what was intended. We need to have more serious and candid discussions about race and civil rights, not Fortnite events. What’s next? The Slavery event? What other historic moments are going to be digitized into Fortnite for gaming consumptions? I can see a Tulsa event coming up too.
When companies do things like this, it baffles me to no end. Instead of trying to make actual change happen, they do performative nonsense like this. It’s very troubling, but I shouldn’t be surprised. We shouldn’t forget how this very same company stole from Black and POC creators to create their huge library of “Fortnite Dances.” If they really cared about civil rights and what MLK stood for, they wouldn’t disregard all those creators and profit from their work without paying them. Meanwhile, Epic Games waged a huge internet PR storm not long ago because their deal with Apple and Google wasn’t fair. Big Corporations are willing to fight for money they feel that they are owed, but won’t give back to the people the helped make your game successful? The disconnect is insane and makes this gesture all the more disingenuous.