What is Fort­nite and why is your kid ob­sessed with it?

Par­ents need to set boundaries for on­line game play

Bayview Post - - Currents - KATHY BUCKWORTH

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.’

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