Fortnite sparks controversy with ‘disrespectful’ new Martin Luther King event

Fans of blockbuster game Fortnite have been left divided over a controversial new addition to the game.

The new 'March Through Time' level invites players to a virtual reimagining of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech.

This community-made virtual experience invites players to watch the 17-minute speech in its entirety from the steps of the Washington Lincoln Memorial before visiting a virtual museum filled with photographs and archive footage.

Players must complete mini-quests, including a quiz, and work as a team to complete the level.

Developer Epic Games said in a press release that "these activities progress players through the experience and bring to life important themes of Dr. King’s speech: we move forward when we work together."

They continue: "Completing the challenges related to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement will unlock a D.C. 63 spray for your Locker."

Fortnite is known for bringing in all sorts of real-world people into its gameworld for live 'concerts', such as Ariana Grande and Jason Momoa, but this is the first time a historical figure has been brought into the game – or indeed such an important historical moment.

In the speech, which is widely regarded as one of the most famous of the 20th century, Dr. King argued for equality and racial justice at a time when bathrooms and restaurants were still widely segregated by race.

His powerful rhetoric on that day in 1963 pressured the Kennedy government to pass important civil rights laws and saw Dr. King named TIME Magazine's 'Man Of The Year'.

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With players dressed up as cartoon characters such as Rick and Morty or Superman able to run around the level dancing and wreaking havoc though, many fans have taken to Twitter to voice their anger at the event.

One user said "The Fortnite MLK event is so disrespectful it makes me genuinely sad", while others questioned how effective it would be as a learning experience for children.

"I highly doubt people in a few years time are going to look at MLK and be like "Is that the guy from fortnite" Here's hoping the school's education system regarding history has improved," user Galla wrote.

The update is seemingly intended as an educational experience for the game's 350 million-strong, predominantly young user base, and replaces all the usual combat elements with quizzes and learning materials.

Whether that user base will treat it as such remains to be seen.

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