The lowdown on Fortnite

By Rob Kelly

If you’re a parent of a school aged child, you have probably heard of the game Fortnite.

It has taken the gaming world by storm. There are literally millions of players worldwide and the game has attracted considerable attention since its launch in 2017.

In essence, Fortnite is an online, fast-paced and strategic multiplayer shooter. It is a game enjoyed by both adults and children alike. But before you decide to buy the game and part with your hard earned cash, there are a few things you need to know about the game.

In Fortnite, a player can explore vast digital realms and locations. A player can connect, communicate and collaborate (via text or audio link) with other players to complete various missions and tasks. While the game is an entertaining rollick, there are a few important things to know before ‘caving-in’ and letting your children play it at home.

Have you heard of an Epic Games account? Before a player can engage with any aspect of the sprawling game, she/he needs an Epic Games account to play.

To play with other players, gamers need to connect with ‘friends’ on the Epic Games network. I recommend a parent/guardian handles this part of the activation process, as it’s always a smart idea to know what your kids are signing-up for online.

The best advice I can give you is to monitor your child’s screen time to ensure they’re connecting with peers or people they know in real-life, not interacting with strangers or people they don’t know online.

If you’ve seen Fortnite being played, you’d know that it depicts considerable amounts of fantasy violence. However, as it is presented in a cartoon, there’s no realistic body horror or bloody elements to worry about.

Even so, too much fantasy violence can have an impact on kids – from nightmares to long-term psychological effects. Experts have raised concerns about children playing games involving continual gun violence for these reasons. I suggest that children are not exposed to these types of games at home, but we realise that it can sometimes be out of your hands.

When children do come across mature themes, it’s important for a parent/guardian to be nearby to reassure them.

A major concern about Fortnite is that it’s highly addictive. When a child becomes addicted to a game, she/he may start to display anti-social or unusual behaviour. If you’ve noticed a change of behaviour in your child, it’s time to pull the plug. The subsequent temper tantrum may be easier to manage than having to break the gaming addiction later in adolescence.

(Here’s a tip – a Fortnite match can last up to 20 (real-world) minutes, so it’s a positive way to restrict a child’s screen time is by limiting play to one or two 20-minute matches a day.)

Since its launch in 2017, teachers have also voiced concern that children are distracted by the game at school. Educators have commented that children’s social awareness and behaviour at school has been affected by playing the game (from pretending to shoot and attack peers to problems of cyber-bullying being brought from home to the playground).

So there you have it in a nutshell. If you decide to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Fortnite in your household, that’s your prerogative. The game is on!