What is Fortnite and why is your kid obsessed with it?
Parents need to set boundaries for online game play
To me the word “fortnight” brings up memories of spending two weeks in England with my relatives. No, we weren’t running around shooting digital enemies. We were hobbling on pebbly beaches for the period of time Brits refer to as a “fortnight.”
Today’s “Fortnite” is something quite different. Essentially it’s a third-person shooter (TPS) game where players battle each other, build fortifications and fight for survival. But it also has dancing (victories are celebrated, and opponents are taunted with a popular dance move called the floss) and strategy, and it has taken the gamer world by storm.
Everyone from your 12-yearold to Drake himself is playing it right now. It can be a solitary pursuit as well as a social activity. Some tweens and teens even organize Fortnite sleepovers where players bring their own systems and play the game for hours side by side.
Why is it so popular? I asked my own 16-year-old son, who has logged more than a few hours playing this game.
“Because it’s free,” he said. Other kids have told me they love it because of the dancing or the puzzle solving. And still others can’t articulate the reason.
“I don’t know why! I just know I love it,” one said.
Certainly, with the barrier of price removed, the game has caught on quickly and has become an international obsession.
So, as parents, what do you need to know about the game and how can you stop your tween or teen from playing non-stop?
One of the biggest frustrations as the parent of a gamer is getting the gamer to end the game, whether because you have to leave the house or simply because you want him or her to have a life outside of this online world.
“But I’m in the middle of a game!” is a constant refrain in Fortnite households. It might help to establish some rules of play before your child starts her or his Fortnite battle.
Ask your child if he or she is playing the game solo or as a team. Then ask your child to estimate the time she or he thinks it will take to play one game. Calculate the approximate end time and tell the gamer he or she is not allowed to start a second game without once again speaking with you and estimating another end time.
Often the kids will have friends over, and they will play the game at the same time but won’t be necessarily communicating with each other. This isn’t horrible in itself (after all, we do the same thing when watching a movie), but encourage them to try to start and end their games around the same time so they can co-ordinate breaks for socializing.
They may also want to watch other players play the game online. When Drake played with the Fortnite pro gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, it was watched by millions.
Don’t try to fully understand the appeal; just put some limits on it. And on the positive side, they’re probably finally “flossing” daily.
Move over, Pokémon GO, there’s a new game in town
Kathy Buckworth is the author of I Am So the Boss of You: An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the ‘Business.’