In an unexpected partnership, Time Magazine joined with Epic Games to introduce a Martin Luther King, Jr. interactive museum in Fortnite. The “March Through Time” exhibit was created by Time Magazine, members of Fortnite’s Creative community, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and Dr. King’s estate to celebrate King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on August 28, 1963.
The event will feature the 17-minute long speech in its entirety and provide players with various mini-games to complete. Each quest requires players to work together, an intentional move that emphasizes the speech’s theme of progression by working together. Everyone that completes all challenges will unlock a “D.C. 73” spray.
As historians, we know it is vitally important that national and world history be accessible to the youth. The more information about historical events and figures that’s available to them, the more likely it is they will absorb it. The end game is that, hopefully, they will walk away with an awareness of the past, how it shaped the present, and what we can do with it to mold the future. Fortnite’s Martin Luther King, Jr. exhibit aims to raise awareness of the Civil Rights Movement.
Integrating such a concept into a video game, especially one revolving around a revered figure like MLK, Jr., requires care and consideration. Is Fortnite the best medium to showcase an interactive exhibit dedicated to combating racism? Are the game’s other controversies, such as microtransactions and its ties to China, enough to make it unfit for social commentary?
The response has certainly been mixed. While some players see the value in putting history into a game known for attracting a younger crowd, others feel Fortnite isn’t an appropriate medium for such an event.
Have you seen clips of people actually in that "event". People are dancing and making fun of it. How is that "great way to learn history"? It's a game about shooting people. School should teach you this. Movies, books and etc. Not games like fuckng fortnite
— Rafiq Daniel Ψ (@rafiqdanpie) August 27, 2021
The truth, though, is that so long as the history is respected, the information is based on fact, and the video game isn’t steeped in controversy that undermines the historical event or figure, it’s always worth trying to expand the reach of information. Yes, “March Through Time” is a stark contrast to the stylized pop culture icons added to Fornite’s roster over the years, but their presence in the game is irrelevant to the message being shared in the exhibit.
Television shows, animated series, and cartoons have all played a hand in sharing historical information with a younger audience. Children of the 90s may recall the Rugrats Passover special, which delved a bit into the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Two years later, the animated babies took part in a Hanukkah special that explored the Maccabean uprising. While it may seem silly, Edward Delman of The Atlantic actually found comfort in the depiction of Jewish history in these episodes. Who’s to say there can’t be an equivalent response to Time Magazine’s Martin Luthor King, Jr. interactive exhibit?
There are sure to be ongoing debates over the appropriateness of “March Through Time,” but it’s worth noting this isn’t the first time Fortnite tackled a rather serious topic. In July 2020, Epic Games tackled racism and voter suppression with the “We the People x More Than a Vote” event.
“March Through Time” is currently available in Fortnite for an unspecified amount of time. Epic is also encouraging players to take to social media and share stories of related inspiration using the hashtag #FNDC63.