Fortnite has undoubtedly taken over the world of pop culture, but that dominance has sparked controversy over who gets credit for some of the content in the game. Some of Fortnite’s dances were originally popularized by black creators and performers, only to appear in the game without input or credit ... and without generating revenue for the artist. But Epic Games may be changing how Fornite develops dances that have brought the game so much attention.
Late last month, the creator of the Billy Bounce, YouFunnyB, took to Twitter and announced that he worked with Epic Games to get his dance in the game. Today, Epic Games confirmed the collaboration to Polygon. When it appeared in the Fortnite store, the Billy Bounce cost 500 V-bucks, which is approximately $5. Players can use the emote to traverse around the map without breaking rhythm.
S/o @fortnite for letting me add my dance to the game #billybounce . Did it for yah of course yah enjoy yourselves #billybouncemovement— #FreeYouFunnyB (@FreeYoufunnyB) May 23, 2019
First dance from the #DMV to be put on fortnite pic.twitter.com/LNdclAwd0Z
The Billy Bounce originally blew up back in 2014, when it became a part of a dance craze on Vine.
What’s unclear is whether YouFunnyB was paid for working with Epic Games. Epic Games did not share additional details, and YouFunnyB did not respond in time for press. While YouFunnyB is not credited in-game, it appears that he’s taking it all in stride.
“I’m not trippin,” he wrote on Instagram, in response to a question about credit. “I know yah wanted the dance on fort so we made that happen for yah all that matters shlim .”
2018 saw the rise of a number of lawsuits aimed at Fortnite for incorporating emotes that were clearly based on existing popular moves, such as the Carlton dance. While these legal proceedings were dismissed, their existence inspired more conversations about what Fortnite owes to black creators. Emotes are taken from popular culture in many games, but Fortnite’s success and reliance on microtransactions made it easy to argue that borrowing dances without credit or payment was an issue of cultural appropriation.
“From early vaudeville and minstrel shows, to television shows like Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, to musicians like Elvis Presley, white America has long maintained a largely unacknowledged extractive relationship with the creative output of its black folk,” wrote Waypoint contributor Yussef Cole.
“There has always been a division between black performers and the fruit of their creativity,” he continued. While Fortnite’s emotes come from a wide variety of sources, some fans feel that the larger racial history at play made the game fall into a deeper overarching problem that pertains specifically to black creators.
It seems that, as Fortnite grows, Epic Games has become more willing to work with others to develop content for the game. In addition to a burgeoning Creative Mode where players can develop content that can be featured by Epic, the developer also recently paid two players for helping them develop a limited-time mode that promoted Jordan shoes.