Epic is once again collaborating with Time Magazine to host an in-game event, “March Through Time (opens in new tab),” commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
Last year, Epic debuted the event to a mixed reception, and quickly had to remove players’ ability to perform most emotes (opens in new tab) while loaded into it. The defining images of it in my mind remain stuff like Superman and Rick Sanchez raising the roof in front of a projection of Martin Luther King Jr., a staunch critic of the government of the United States who was martyred for his political activity. Does this at all seem disrespectful?
Keeping people from smeezing in front of MLK is a great start, but the whole thing still feels a bit crass. That’s not to say videogames have no place in teaching history—Ubisoft’s actually done some great work with its Discovery Tour (opens in new tab) mode for recent Assassin’s Creed games.
The thing is, those strip out a lot of the Assassin’s Creed to do it—some things are true, not quite everything is permitted, and you don’t have the sillier stuff getting in the way. It also doesn’t hurt that the history in Assassin’s Creed is not in living memory, or so intimately tied to present day issues.
They really gotta restrict your avatar for this thing, maybe even just assign a tasteful choice to you on loading in. I’m sorry, Sasuke Uchiha really has no place at a commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement. At that point, this project might be able to be appreciated on its own merits as an educational interactive experience rather than as a bad joke, but it also wouldn’t go as viral, so who’s to say what’s right here.