TIME Studios Partners With Fortnite for In-Game MLK Event
On August 28th, a historic gathering took place at the Lincoln Memorial where more than 250,000 people united to advocate for civil and economic rights for African-Americans in the United States. This event, known as the March on Washington, was also where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. The events of this march influenced the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, and national origin. This crucial moment of American history now joins Wonder Woman and Arianna Grande in Fortnite.
An Immersive Historical Experience Exclusively for Fortnite
According to a release from TIME Studios, ‘March Through Time’ will be a year-long experience that players can visit in Fortnite’s Creative mode. The collaboration between TIME Studios and Fortnite creators seeks to bring this pivotal moment in American history to a new generation on a platform they enjoy. As players explore a virtual Washington, D.C., they will be presented with mini-games and objectives they can work together on to complete, culminating in a fireworks finale for players to enjoy. This decision is endorsed by the King estate, with Eric D. Tidwell Esq., managing director and general counsel of the King estate, emphasizing the importance of bringing MLK’s life to new, immersive platforms:
“We continuously strive to move Dr. King from the history books and place his legacy directly into the lives of younger generations. With the advent of emerging technology, we seek to use all resources available to continue to spread his wonderful legacy of hope, peace, love, and equality. Presenting his most famous speech in such an interactive format helps us achieve that goal.”
In the trailer posted on Fortnite’s official YouTube account, in-game museum experiences can be seen, along with archival footage of Dr. King’s historic speech.
The event has seen cynicism hurled at it on social media with users remarking with quips such as
“imagine playing as MLK in Fortnite and u get shot and a Rick skin starts doing the default dance on u.” XSET co-owner Erin Ashley Simon, a noted advocate for increased Black participation in esports, posted her response to the MLK event, remarking she’s uncertain about her feelings towards it.
The MLK event isn’t the only Fortnite event to highlight black leaders in America. On July 3rd, 2020, Fortnite announced a Big Screen event titled ‘We the People’ which highlighted the national #BlackLivesMatter conversation and invited respected guests to discuss the movement and the state of racial disparity in America. The response to the event was less than stellar.
It’s interesting to see Fortnite being used as an education tool about MLK and the Civil Rights movement, but Epic Games aren’t historians. Their experience will always emphasize player choice first, and museum/curative experiences require a conscious surrender of player autonomy. However, it’s nice to see an effort being made to educate and further awareness, no matter where it happens.