Fortnite, the highly popular online video game, played by solo or multiplayer
shooters, who aim to shoot, survive and win. Epic Games released Fortnite in
2017, and now counts 250 million users internationally. The games don’t cost
anything, but they generate billions of dollars. Players can splash their cash
on customizing characters, upgrading weapons and buying additional
ammunition. According to Neilson’ SuperData, Fortnite made $2.4 billion in
The games are so phenomenally popular that Epic Games just hosted the first
Fortnite World at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City this summer,
home of the US Open Tennis Championships. The majority of the players are
teenage males, and critics proclaim it is highly addictive and critical at Epic’s
move into E-Sports, which adds the element of gambling. The company is
offering £100 million in Fortnite esports prize pools alone this summer.
Addiction and Isolation
As a teenage male, I cannot say how many of my friends regularly stay up until 4am playing Fortnite. At one point, I too, was so engrossed with the game I started to become moody and sleep deprived. It is difficult to describe how addictive the game is. I lost all sense of time. The competitive drive to win gruelling Battle Royale matches meant I was prepared to forego sleep, food, rest. Health professionals are comparing the addictive nature of the game to hard drugs. Michael Rich, a director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe: “They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this”.
Of course, there are parental controls that can limit the amount of time a child spends on the game. But, it is difficult for a parent to prevent a child from playing the game if they have access to a variety of consoles – Mac, iPhone, Playstation, Xbox, etc. – the game is free across all these platforms.
Is Fortnite really all that violent?
I consider Fortnite to be quite a tame game compared to others like GTA and
Call of Duty in terms of bloody violence. The game is clearly aimed at a
younger audience with its colourful style and lack of gore. As such, it could be
considered more playful, maybe even child-friendly. For a parent trying to chose a game for their child, it might sound ideal. But to create a shooter-game which bares none of the starker realities of violence- death, blood, pain- could be considered more damaging for children. Games like Fortnite have the potential to send-out damaging ideas about violence: that it’s okay, that it’s fun. Using child-friendly and colourful graphics to disguise the ugliness of what is being depicted.
It is safe to say that any violence, particularly gun violence, can negatively impact kids, especially with the current gun climate in the US. The Irish Times reported that experts are still debating Fortnite’s effects. They say moderation is important and that if your child starts acting aggressively, to stop them from playing it. Moreover, the same paper also reported that ‘Irish Primary schools have been warning parents about the game’ and reminded them that the game had an ‘age 12′ rating. The NSPCC also launched the argument that Fortnite could potentially endanger children through exposing them to violence. Before this, the popular game was clear of any controversies.
This July 2019, Epic Games organised the first Fortnite World Cup, inviting well-known Fortnite gamers to compete in the Battle Royale. Many of the gamers are teens and the winner of this year’s competition, Kyle Bugha Geirsdorf, was only 16-years-old. Kyle won 3 million dollars, while a 15-year-old from Essex won 1.1 million dollars for achieving second place. Evidentially, this new booming industry has a lot of revenue. However, it’s still uncertain whether gaming of this kind has detrimental side-effects, turning young peoples’ attention away from more traditional career pursuits and leading them to develop addictive personality traits.
What used to be a harmless video game, helping people to pass the time, has exploded into a business with huge sport-like events that rake in great sums of money.
Fortnite is growing at an exponential rate and the world doesn’t seem to be
catching up. This may lead to difficulties in the future, especially if Fortnite competitions continue to go largely un-regulated.
Personally I think the game can have a negative impact on young people and I don’t
support its violence or addictive qualities. If kids want to play it, they can, but it’s important they play in moderation and don’t stay up all night hooked to their screens!
Finlay McDowall, 17, Rap Project Intern. 2 September 2019