Game has Tweed kids ‘ob­sessed’

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Koenig rick.koenig@tweed­dai­

IT’S the video game that’s mak­ing par­ents tear their hair out.

For­nite is a free on­line multi-player game that places 100 gamers in a Hunger Games-style

sce­nario where they have to sur­vive the long­est, us­ing weapons and build­ing ma­te­ri­als on a map that is con­stantly shrink­ing due to a deadly storm.

It has turned into a world­wide phe­nom­e­non.

Cre­ator Epic Games made nearly $300 mil­lion in April alone from sell­ing in-game cos­met­ics, with more than 40 mil­lion gamers play­ing each month.

A live stream of the game by pro­fes­sional player Ninja and rap­per Drake saw more than 600,000 view­ers tune in, break­ing the record for most views on the stream­ing platform Twitch.

But the game has be­come some­what of a prob­lem for par­ents, who are strug­gling to get their chil­dren off the game.

Banora Point mother and pri­mary school teacher Robyn With­ers said she had to ban her 12-year-old son, Reece, from play­ing the game as he was “ob­sessed” and was some­times play­ing with strangers who would take ad­van­tage of his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“He was join­ing up with peo­ple he didn’t know and they were all older peo­ple who knew all the tricks about steal­ing weapons from him and it had a real neg­a­tive im­pact on him,” she said.

“He is re­ally ob­sessed by it, he just got in the door and ran straight down the stairs to go on it, he’ll go on now un­til din­ner time and it will be a bat­tle to get him off.

“It’s a dou­ble-edged sword be­cause it’s quite fun to play with your friends and I un­der­stand that but it’s got so much of a pull that it’s re­ally hard for them to break away from it.”

The game, which is free for users but al­lows play­ers to use real money to pur­chase “V-bucks”, al­lows play­ers to use the in-game cur­rency to pur­chase cos­tumes, dance moves, emotes and more.

The sys­tem has seen many chil­dren ask­ing for V-bucks in­stead of real cash for their pocket money.

Ms With­ers said Reece had al­ready bought some V-bucks and “was ask­ing me ev­ery day if he could have some more”.

“It’s re­ally taken the kids by storm, now they’re do­ing the dances, my son does it, it drives me nuts, the kids at school are do­ing it, they’re just like head­less chick­ens,” she said.

But the game hasn’t just been a prob­lem for par­ents.

Fortnite ad­dic­tion has be­come an is­sue among pro­fes­sional athletes, in­clud­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball play­ers.

Af­ter one pitcher had to miss a game due to a case of carpal tun­nel, the pitcher said he would stop play­ing Fortnite.

Cabarita mother Katherine said all four of her boys, aged be­tween 10 and 13, played the game and their in­ter­net us­age had sky-rock­eted.

“Since they got Fortnite, we had never gone over 100 gi­ga­bytes and we’re now av­er­ag­ing 350,” she said.

Katherine said a week­day ban on elec­tron­ics meant her fam­ily did not strug­gle as much as oth­ers but ad­mit­ted it was “a chal­lenge on the week­end”.

“It’s a bit of a time-sucker, they can’t fin­ish un­til it’s up to the last kill or they’ve been killed,” she said.

A land­mark rul­ing in the Nether­lands ear­lier this year claimed in-game pur­chases such as V-bucks were forms of gam­bling and or­dered pub­lish­ers to mod­ify the games. Whether that same rul­ing will ap­ply in Aus­tralia is yet to be known.


IN THE GAME: The on­line video game Fortnite has en­chanted the minds of chil­dren and adults world­wide.

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