Fortnite is the latest game craze to sweep the online gaming world and something that I am witnessing with a vengeance in both my own household and with the students I have worked with in recent weeks.
So what is all the fuss about? What do parents need to know and should I be letting my child play Fortnite?
Here are the answers to a few questions that may help you make the decision as to whether it is appropriate for your child. As with all things though, if you are really unsure, it is a good idea to have a watch for a while (or even a play if you like and are not prone to video game obsessions!) as this is a great way to understand the concepts you may need to have a conversation about.
How do you play Fortnite?
Fortnite can be played online on a Playstation 4, Xbox One or on a computer and has recently been released on iOS.
What is Fortnite Battle Royale?
The multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’ version involves up to 100 people playing against each other and is the version your child is probably playing or wanting to play (as opposed to the Save the Day solo version which is also available but probably not the one your child is obsessing over).
It is a shooter game (of a similar vein as Hunger Games) where players are dropped unarmed onto an island. There, they must make their way to ‘houses’, where they find weapons they then use to shoot and kill, they build structures and try to avoid the destructive storm that threatens all outside its safe zone. The last player standing after all else are killed is deemed the winner.
Unlike many online games where you are ‘respawned’ should you die and are able to continue to play, keeping alive is the difference between winning and losing and means a lot more in Fortnite than in many other shooter games.
Is it violent?
There is certainly a lot of violence as the aim is to shoot and kill, however it isn’t as graphic as many other shooter games. It has been created in a more ‘cartoony’ or ‘Pixar-ish’ style so there is no real blood and gore as such. There is also a slightly absurd nature to it all, with people in animal costumes attacking astronauts with pic axes, that kind of tones down any real feeling of violence. So it is definitely more colourful and cartoonish and less dark and sinister than many other shooter games……but yes you are still using weapons to kill.
There is no swearing as such within the game, however of course if playing with other people online that can always occur.
Will my child become addicted?
Many are describing it as addictive (for want of a better word) and one will not want to leave ‘mid game’.
Who do you play with?
You can play with your friends but you will also have unknowns joining the game as well. When playing in teams this requires strategy and communication and can sometimes result in players abusing others when they are not so happy with their efforts but it can also result in great cooperation, teamwork and communication. They can be developing skills in planning, thinking ahead, strategising and they will be creating and building.
Many people also report having just as much fun watching the game as they do playing it themselves.
How long does it take to play a game of Fortnite?
Unlike many games that go on for hours, this one takes about 20 minutes……but you really cant stop at just one (apparently). So it may be necessary to put limits on the number of games played as a way to keep it under control.
Will they be loud?
Yes! Very loud! The cheering and suspenseful cries will definitely prevent them from playing it without you knowing!
Can they chat to other users?
Yes, there are onscreen or audio chats available to other players. These can be turned off via the settings then head to audio. Many don’t bother with the onscreen chat as it is too hard to play and type! There is no voice chat in the iOS version yet but it does have text chat.
What is it classified?
M with a Rating of Teen with Violence from the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
How much does Fortnite it cost?
Free. Although you can pay extra money for battle passes that allow you to earn extra rewards or you can buy extra loot and weapons, costumes, and even dance moves but these are not required to have any greater chance at winning.
If I had to advise between Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty and Fortnite what would I choose?
Hands down Fortnite. The themes, the violence to women and others, the graphic detail and language in the former 2 are vastly different to Fortnite.
What should my kids be aware of before playing Fortnite?
- It has been described as highly addictive so you may need to enforce some time limits and keep out of bedrooms to avoid late night temptations! This will be needed to be even more stringently enforced when the mobile version arrives.
- Be aware of how to block or report people if they are required to do so.
- Don’t pass on any personal information to online players.
Once again the very best way to determine if this is something you are Ok with your child playing, is to watch or even play yourself. That way you can help set boundaries from a place of understanding and have the right conversations about how you can manage any concerns.