As a parent, you may have heard of the game Fortnite, a hot topic of conversation in the media recently, with controversy over its suitability for children.
Suzanne, a mum and a guest on the daytime TV programme, ‘This Morning’, confessed that her son ‘stopped socializing’ and became ‘obsessed’ with the game. She states that he becomes ‘aggressive’ and ‘moody’ when she tells him his game time is over, despite having played for hours. Suzanne is now campaigning for the age rating of the game to be raised to 16. This has raised concerns among other parents. We understand how confusing it can be getting the relevant information needed to make an educated decision on the suitability of a game for a young person under your care, so we thought we’d do the hard work for you and provide you with everything you need to know about Fortnite.
What is Fortnite?
Q: How much does it cost? A: Free
Q: Where do young people get it? A: Online, with free download.
Q: What is the age rating? A: 12 Years and over
Q: What platforms can the game be played on? A: Xbox, PlayStation, tablet, laptop/computer and phone (providing there is internet connection).
Q: Is it absolutely free? A: Yes, it is free to play – but there are in-game purchases. You can purchase items with Fortnite currency called Robux. You purchase Robux with credit card details, PayPal or with pre-payed gift cards purchased from retailers e.g. Game.
Fortnite started life in July 2017 as a small, multiplayer game where characters fight for survival against flesh-eating zombies in a post-apocalyptic virtual reality. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, took interest in the success of another game, ‘PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds’ (PUBG), which is based on ‘Battle Royale’, a movie released in 2000. In the film, Japanese students are deserted on an Island, given weapons and told, in ‘Hunger Games’ style, to fight to the death until only one is left standing. Epic took the same concept and released ‘Fortnite: Battle Royal’ in September 2017.
The new version of Fortnite has proved to be a massive success, reaching a fanbase of over 40 million.
In the multiplayer game, 100 virtual characters are dropped onto an island and must find hidden weapons to fight until only one player remains.
As progression is made, a thick fog (‘the storm’) and an ever-decreasing circle covers land on the map, forcing characters to come into closer contact with one another. The last one to survive is the winner.
Why is it so popular with kids?
Fortnite has been designed with the younger generation in mind. Unlike the similar game PUBG which has an age rating of 16+ and more realistic graphics, Fortnite is deemed suitable for much younger teens with a PEGI 12 rating.
Fortnite’s graphics are bright, colourful and almost cartoon-like, game-play also includes silly features such as fancy dress and funny dance moves.
The game is free to play and download on the PC, PlayStation, Xbox, tablet and smartphone and does not run on a pay to win basis. Since the game is accessed online it is regularly updated with new features which keeps the game interesting and players wanting to come back. Fortnite is also a multiplayer game meaning that anyone connected to the internet can play against others in real-time, meaning that groups of friends can play together and chat using headsets and microphones.
What are the dangers of the game?
As the name suggests, the game is a battle between players to survive. PEGI has identified Fortnite as being suitable for children who are 12 or older for ‘scenes of mild violence’. With the game’s storyline focused on players killing others for survival, the whole concept, of course, is quite violent. However, unlike similar games with a much older age rating, the graphics are neither realistic or disturbing- there are no blood splatters or body parts!
So… should parents be worried?
As with most things in life, moderation is key. The problem lies when a child gets ‘absorbed’ by the game, leading to disruptions to real-life priorities such as school work, sleep and socialising and influences a change in behaviour when asked to stop playing. It is best to sit down with your child before they start playing and decide how long they can play for (e.g. 90 minutes) then you can set a timer to remind them how much time they have left to play. Also, it might be a good idea to set conditions before they play, such as they must finish all their homework before they can go on the game or tidy their bedroom etc.
If your child uses Xbox or PlayStation, then you can use the parental controls to limit the amount of time they play for (or stop them from playing altogether).
Overall, Fortnite is a popular game amongst young teens which is fun and keeps kids occupied and out of trouble.
If you have open discussions with your child about gaming and set consistent, appropriate and fair rules surrounding the when and for how long they can play, then parents shouldn’t be too concerned about the Fortnite craze. As with any online activity, any young person should be monitored.