First of all… Wow.
Fortnite currently has a Limited Time Mode (LTM) called “March Through Time” which has recreated the location of March on Washington for Jobs and Equality (AKA the “I have a dream” speech). There are a few puzzle challenges, a digital Civil Rights Museum, and a most importantly big screens all over the map playing the entirety of the Martin Luther King Jr’s speech at the march. Here are some pics I took while in the LTM.
Some thoughts on the value of this in education.
- It was very stirring to hear the entire speech.
- It was also, I felt, important that it was a communal space where all of the Fortnite players could be together and hear these words. When I entered there were a few dozen people in the main region.
- The digital museum was basic but did include a lot of events that many of the younger players may not have known. Within a digital space I did feel it could have been enhanced but overall it was great to see the images.
- The puzzle games had zero relationship to the content of the Civil Rights movement or the speech itself. I would not play or assign this as part of a classroom experience.
- There were some quiz questions but they were so basic as to be unuseful.
- My fear would be that this lionizes MLK at the expense of other Civil Rights leaders. I would love to have competing LTMs with Malcolm X or Kwame Ture speeches. Even if they were played together in order to see the competing visions of the Civil Rights movement. My fear is also that, while this is obviously an important moment, there is little context provided which makes it feel like this “won” the battle against racism. In truth this was 1963 and was long before any of the important legislation and doesn’t even begin to touch on the racist backlash. I know… I know… Mr. Powley this is just a game for kids – but do we need to have a discussion about propaganda or how bad history means that we can’t have meaningful conversations about the present?
- This was sponsored by TIME magazine. I know because there was a large TIME magazine statue in the middle of the map. This means that a lot of advertising money was used to create this and they had access to materials and items that a normal “Creative” user would not have while creating a world. So while my first thought was that maybe this is something students could try to make I don’t think it would actually be possible.
It was a really cool experience. MLK was an amazing orator and the power of the speech seeps into every part of the LTM. I would encourage everyone to go check it out but, please, don’t use it in class.