If you've got gaming kids of a certain age, then you're probably familiar with the game Fortnite. It's a video game phenomenon sweeping the industry, and people are obsessed. It's sort of like a cross between The Hunger Games and Minecraft (another game you've probably heard more about than you care to!). There are two versions: Fortnite: Save the World, where players band together to fight off the zombie apocalypse, and Fortnite Battle Royale, where up to 100 players are pitted against one another in a fight to be the last one standing. The second version, Battle Royale, is immensely popular, mostly because it's free to download and play. But should your kids be playing it?
The first thing you need to know about Fortnite is that it's rated T for Teen, so it's suitable for kids ages 13 and up. Yes, there is violence. But it's a far cry from games like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. Rather, the violence in Fortnite is quite cartoonish, not gory or bloody. Think of it like a Looney Tunes version of a video game. While the ratings list it as T for Teen, many parents whose kids play the game put the age rating closer to 11 years old.
So what makes it so incredibly popular?
Well, for starters, it's free. Plus, it's accessible across multiple platforms, like PC and console. It doesn't take much to get started, so new players can acclimate fairly quickly. And it appeals to a wide-range of gamers! Novice players enjoy the surprise elements of the game, as well as the cartoonish, almost comical, violence. But advanced gamers will appreciate the skill it takes to be successful at the game.
So what should you be concerned about?
Well, the violence, for one. Even though it's not realistic by any means, we're still talking about a shooting game here! Players can be taken out in the blink of an eye. Which brings us to our next point: unlike other games, where players "die" and then respawn, once you're out in Fortnite, you're out. So if your kid has a hard time with losing, this might be an issue. There are also in-app purchases, which can be turned off on your devices. And there is a chat function, and with up to 100 players of all ages in the game, this can be problematic. But again, that can be turned off, so your kids can't hear or participate in any voice-chats during the game.
Light up the night with the new Sparkler emote.— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) July 3, 2018
Available now! pic.twitter.com/ooJWBt5PqI
So should you let your kids play it?
It really boils down to this: you know your kids best. Is Fortnite inappropriate for some kids, even those who meet the age requirements? Yes. Is it fine for other kids, even those who are younger than the recommended age? Also yes! As with any digital platform, be it video games or social media, you need to be involved in what they're doing and know what games and platforms they're using.