‘Fortnite’ bizarrely adds an interactive Martin Luther King Jr. memorial

Fortnite has teamed up with Time Magazine for their most recent attempt at crossover content. March Through Time gives players the opportunity to explore the important legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in the middle of a deathmatch.

There’s something to be said for using your platform, no matter what it happens to be, for good. But the Fortnite team’s most recent foray into virtue marketing is a miscalculation at best.

March Through Time is a collaboration between Epic Games and Time Magazine, who make strange bedfellows to say the least. The interactive event, which has been likened to a museum, gives players the option to attend an in-game memorial service for civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

fortnite martin luther king
Image: Fortnite / Epic Games

The event focuses on MLK’s famous “I have a dream” speech, which he gave roughly four years before he was assassinated on August 28, 1968. The recently released trailer, which proudly shows players gathering to watch a recording of the speech, is something to behold. It’s so wrongheaded in tone and execution that I found myself cringing uncontrollably throughout its mercifully brief duration.

What this really comes down to is synergy. While Fortnite is hardly the worst of the lot, it’s a video game that by design incrementally bleeds its player base of their earnings through microtransactions. Usually for something as absurd and meaningless as a hotdog costume.

fortnite protest
Image: Fortnite / Epic Games

Fortnite is capitalism and consumerism writ large, forging alliances with anything and everything that can increase its market share. How do you think that would sit with a man that once confided “capitalism has outlived its usefulness”, during a time when socialist was synonymous with traitor?

Even more galling is the fact that this memorial takes place within the context of a Battle Royale game; where victory can only be achieved when everyone else is dead. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pacifist, someone who faced violence by insisting that violence is never the answer. It shouldn’t need to be said, but his memory doesn’t sit well next to a deathmatch.

If the team behind Fortnite are truly passionate about celebrating the legacy and teachings of MLK then they should recognise how they’ve come up short, and act accordingly by ending this charade. Considering their substantial resources and creativity I’m sure they can come up with something far more fitting.