Since 2019, Fortnite has attempted to create an in-game “metaverse”, which is a shared virtual space in which players can interact with each other as they do offline. Fortnite has hosted concerts, in-game events, and movie screenings for players to share virtual experiences. However, Fortnite’s most recent metaverse event turned out to be a deaf catastrophe of corporate ignorance.
Fortnite has put Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his battle royale game with his new “March Through Time” virtual exhibit in collaboration with TIME Studios. In the exhibit, Rick Sanchez, the Xenomorph, Master Chief, and other wacky pop culture figures can learn about the civil rights movement, all while dancing and moving around DC to the tune of speech. MLK’s “I Have a Dream”.
As soon as the event kicked off, gamers immediately started making videos poking fun at the utter absurdity of putting something as serious as a centuries-old struggle against oppression in a cartoon shooter. animated. The utter ridiculousness of seeing characters like the Joker dancing and the tea bag around the National Mall while listening to clips from civil rights activists seems like something that could only happen in satire like Silicon Valley or South Park’s. HBO.
For 24 hours, there were few restrictions on the skins, actions, and emotes players could use throughout the National Mall. It was a disaster waiting to happen. In addition to the ridiculous commodification of MLK’s life through a third-person shooter, the “DC ’63” spray that players unlock if they explore the entire exhibit and complete in-game quests. around DC.
Fortnite also hasn’t disabled custom loading screens, which contain tips related to battle royale. One player tweeted his screen, which featured a head tip telling players to “aim for the head,” while charging into virtual Washington DC to learn more about Martin Luther King.
I mean, this is the loading screen I got when I left the March Through Time instance. “Aim for the Head” is one hell of a thing to score on the loading screen as a tribute to MLK. And okay, it’s random, and it’s unrelated to the event but … that’s all my point. pic.twitter.com/Js5ZFVnBM4
– Chris Franklin (@Campster) August 26, 2021
On top of that, Epic Games had already restricted some emotes, like throwing tomatoes. It seems Epic Games knew there could be some issues with players having free rein in such a big event, but they still allowed players to treat their 1963 DC time like Travis Scott’s previous gig from Fortnite or their Christopher Nolan film screenings.
After a day where players allowed emotes as they wished, the only emotes allowed were event-related actions, including a sitting and protesting emote. It still felt like a sick commodification of the civil rights protests and movement to many players on Twitter.
this is insane pic.twitter.com/giDM6Q8hb5
– brvd ♪ ♡ (@blackhashira) August 26, 2021
The idea of a virtual exhibit in a game is of course not a bad idea. Other games like Assassin’s Creed and Minecraft have managed to include educational sections of their games without appearing deaf and disrespectful to the concepts or stories they explain. Epic Games could have designed a virtual exhibit outside of Fortnite that would focus more on the historical aspect of the movement, as many museums already do.
Important historical exposure was likely to fail in a game like Fortnite, as the main objective of the game is to commit manslaughter better than everyone else. Entertainment companies that teach younger audiences are a great idea, but Fortnite may not be the right platform for teaching kids about such a complex and painful time in American history.