When I walk through the library I am used to seeing clusters of teenagers all looking at their phones. Recently I realized those same teenage groups are now talking to each other while looking at their phones. My initial thoughts were “WOW! That’s an improvement. They’re actually talking together.” As the days passed I kept hearing the word “Fortnite.” Finally, one of my students asked me if I had heard of Fortnite. When I replied, “No,” it immediately cued a chorus of “Oh, Nooo!” and “Where have you been living?”
This sparked a conversation for my students to give their teacher the 411 on Fortnite.
1. What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?
A quick description is an online mass brawl where there will be 100 players on an island that have leaped off an airplane ready to fight. Then within the island are hidden weapons and other items needed. It is necessary for players to arm themselves while they build and landscape. As the game progresses, land on the island is reduced further down to force the players closer to each other. (Sound a little like The Hunger Games?) You must survive and try to be the last person standing. There is no actual killing shown. If you don’t survive, then the player is sent back to the lobby to try again.
2. How can they play it?
Players are able to access the game by downloading on four different devices:
Playstation 4 (PS4)
Phone (only available for iPhone currently)
3. Does it cost anything?
It’s absolutely free! There is no cost to play, which in my opinion, is driving the popularity. There is the option to buy a Premium Battle Pass that allows access to exclusive clothing and items, but it is not necessary. What may cost is the data being used if the user is accessing the game through their phone.
Tip: Make sure to remind your teens about their data.
4. Should I limit play? How? Should a parent be concerned?
Parental controls on Xbox and Playstation allow a time limit to be set. When it comes to a phone and computer, an option I have heard several parents recommend to install is Net Nanny. This allows parents to monitor and set limits on what their children are able to access.
Since there are weapons used in the game, this may cause a concern for some. As mentioned earlier, there is no blood or actual killing shown. The player returns back to the lobby and starts over. Now, the comfort level of having a child use various weapons provided in a game would be to each parent’s discretion as to what they feel is appropriate.
5. Why the popularity?
The big drive is that it’s free! All children have a chance to play the game if they have access to devices. Next up would be the graphics. The game provides cartoon-type graphics, making it a not-so-realistic game and providing some fun. I hear teenagers discussing the costumes and the newest craze of dance moves. Check out Youtube for the various Electro Shuffle Fortnite moves! My class tried following along to one of the videos, and it provided some good laughs. Lastly, Fortnite, allows you to team up with friends or groups of friends. This allows teenagers that were only looking at their phones to now have a conversation.
While I personally do not like video games, hearing children talking and working together is music to my ears. Will there be something positive that comes out of this? We shall have to wait and see.