Fortnite has a problem with racist AI art

Fortnite logo
(Image credit: SOPA Images via Getty Images)

Fortnite is under scrutiny after a disturbing number of offensive AI-generated images were discovered within its user-made game database. The distasteful images appeared in the game thumbnails, easily visible on Fortnite's discovery page, which can be viewed on the game's official website.

While the new Unreal Editor for Fortnite bought the promise of a new creator economy, it has unfortunately devolved into somewhat of a gaming Wild West. With offensive user-generated content passing through moderation undetected, the sheer amount of inappropriate imagery is shocking, to say the least.  

Fortnite offensive images

Many of the AI images are created in a bright caricature style and feature harmful stereotypes. (Image credit: Epic Games)

The images in question mainly feature overweight men depicted as different racial stereotypes. The sheer amount of different cultural caricatures is disturbing, with the malicious tone of the AI art ranging from light stereotypes to genuinely harmful racist tropes. With a broad range of players, including impressionable young children, the discovery is an appalling insight into Epic Games' weak moderation of harmful content. 

After this troubling phenomenon was brought to public attention by Kotaku writer Zack Zwiezen, Epic Games addressed the situation, stating "Discriminatory content, regardless of how it is created, has no place in Fortnite and is a violation of our island creator rules." Over 100 offensive islands have been "addressed" since the news came out, proving the disturbing quantity of offensive content. While Epic states that each thumbnail is checked by a human moderation team, there's a clear need for tightened review practices.

Fortnite games thumbnails

"Jamaica Zonewars" has been extremely popular on Fortnite and is still easily accessible via the Fortnite explore page.  (Image credit: Epic Games)

The problem doesn't solely lie with Epic Games, it's a wider issue about the unmoderated freedom that players have to create potentially harmful content. As a community, players have a responsibility to remain vigilant and keep the gaming space a positive environment.

Concerns over AI art only seem to be mounting, especially after the leaked Midjourney artist database caused concern for creatives. However, with the release of Nightshade allowing users to 'poison' their artwork from AI, we could be uncovering more ways to protect ourselves and sustain AI generators as a tool, rather than a negative competitor. 

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Natalie Fear
Staff Writer

Natalie is Creative Bloq's staff writer. With an eye for trending topics and a passion for internet culture, she brings you the latest in art and design news. A recent English Literature graduate, Natalie enjoys covering the lighter side of the news and brings a fresh and fun take to her articles. Outside of work (if she’s not glued to her phone), she loves all things music and enjoys singing sweet folky tunes.