Why Fortnite just isn’t the platform to teach kids about racism and MLK’s legacy

Fortnite recently teamed up with TIME to teach players about racism and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with the March Through Time event. It is a Creative mode event offering players a cosmetic reward in an effort to incentivize players to participate. The event kicked off yesterday and will stay active for a little over a year, lasting until 31 August 2022. Two building items have also been added to Creative: the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

What Fortnite has set out to do – by teaching its players about the perils of racism, MLK’s legacy and what it all still means today – is noble. Corporate social responsibility is something that not many companies truly buy into, but it seems Fortnite is.

However, there are players who already have issues with the event and it’s possible that Fortnite, a game about killing everyone else in the game, isn’t the best place for education.

Fortnite players aren’t thrilled with the MLK event

The event, which features a video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech, doesn’t seem to be landing well with players. One player was able to capture a video, with the awe-inspiring speech playing in the background, of Fortnite players dancing.

It’s certainly not what Epic Games intended when they set out to conduct this event. Some of the responses to the tweet lament the addition of the event and suggest that Fortnite is just trying to make money off of social issues. That may very well be true. It’s impossible to know the company’s true feelings about this and their motivation for introducing the subject to the game.

However, it is also true that this is a good idea. Gaming has been used for educational purposes before, like Minecraft: Education Edition, and performed well. Fortnite, however, may not have figured out how to do it.

People who are curious or who just like history will join the event with genuine interest. However, many will also join simply to troll in-game, as seen above. The targeted audience for this event, the people who don’t know about it or are part of the problem today, will either join for 20 minutes to get the reward or not join at all.

The D.C. 63 spray is the reward for joining the event. (Image via Epic Games)
The D.C. 63 spray is the reward for joining the event. (Image via Epic Games)

The D.C. 63 spray is a nice reward, but it’s not nearly enough to incentivize those who need to see the event the most. It’s a great idea by Fortnite because education on this issue is important, but it seems to be more difficult to execute than initially thought.

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