‘Fortnite’ Had To Remove Most Emotes From Its Martin Luther King Jr. Event For Exactly The Reason You Think

Fortnite caused a stir earlier this week with a special Martin Luther King Jr. event in game that was supposed to honor the civil rights legend’s legacy. The Epic smash hit has expanded what a video game can do in recent years, hosting in-game concerts, movie trailers, and other events in non-competitive areas of the in-game universe.

But the event honoring King drew skepticism given the sensitivity of race relations in America and the often fraught relationship gaming and gamers have with race in general. Something like an exhibit paying due tribute to one of the most important Americans in the nation’s history in a virtual world was, to some, inviting the more callous in the Fortnite universe to make memes. Which seems to be what happened until Epic stepped in.

As Kotaku noted Friday, Epic was forced to disable all emotes available in the game except the special ones that come with the exhibit itself. This comes after clips emerged of people in various skins dancing and doing some of the more toxic emotes in the game were circulated online. What’s interesting is that, as the report notes, some emotes were already removed from the game ahead of this new event. And the game has had issues with people using emotes during serious events like its We The People event about race in America last July 4.

It’s not a surprise that this happened, in other words, but it’s curious that Epic didn’t foresee this problem coming until players had the chance to make it weird for a day or so first.