Fortnite Disables Most Emotes for Martin Luther King Jr Experience

On Thursday, Fortnite introduced a surprising yet thoughtful feature. In celebration of the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington DC, Fortnite introduced what it calls the March Through Time experience. The interactive experience, made in partnership with Time, allows Fortnite players to listen to Dr. King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech along with other educational interactive elements. However, given that the March Through Time experience is in Fortnite, an odd controversy has grown and has even prompted Epic Games to make some changes.

As Fortnite players, or anyone familiar with Fortnite, could point out, the game is very odd. It's full of crossover character skins and dancing emotes pulled from all corners of pop culture. In a surprising decision, Epic Games decided to allow these skins and emotes into the March Through Time experience. In some ways, it made sense. Let young game players enjoy the experience as they please. The results, however, have been strange and some described the results as disrespectful if not outright offensive.

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Epic Games has decided that the criticism it has received is worth responding to. On Friday, Epic disabled all emotes within the March Through Time experience outside of eight specific emotes that are part of the interactive experience. These Fortnite emotes include holding a protest sign saying "DREAM," as well as basic motions like bowing, sitting, and clapping.

While it isn't clear why Epic Games made this decision, as no statement was issued alongside confirmation of the change, it's perhaps easy to understand why. There were several semi-viral messages going around Twitter showing players doing the Gangnam Style dance in front of a video of Dr. King's speech, for example. The posts mostly just called attention to the oddity of the situation, which Epic Games likely decided wasn't what it wanted to be a focus for the event.

For the time being, Epic has left the ability for players to use any skins they want in the March Through Time experience intact. Epic has perhaps decided that the strangeness of Fortnite's myriad skins is acceptable so long as they can't emote in any way that may be construed as disrespectful.

Again, there's a valuable argument to be made that reaching out to young Fortnite players and providing important educational material is healthy and productive. That may result in some shenanigans and silliness, which is what Fortnite is all about. But it will hopefully result in a broader positive reaction as well. Regardless, Epic Games will be able to see what works in the March Through Time experience and use that constructively in future endeavors.

Fortnite is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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