FORTNITE ADDICT

With over 1-million players and a stream of social media memes, the game Fortnite has become a formidable enemy for many a parent.

By Jonathan Reed

7 February 2018

It is the game of the moment. With over 1 million players and a stream of social media memes the game Fortnite has become a formidable enemy for many a parent. So, why is the game so popular and is it as addictive as many commentators are saying it is?

Fortnite is described as a ‘co-op sandbox survival game.’ Developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly is has garnered an almost compulsive following. The game places you on a contemporary Earth where a sudden storm causes 98% of the world’s population to mysteriously disappear and leaves ‘husks’, Zombie-like creatures to rise and kill the remaining survivors.

© Ubisoft

The gamer takes the role of one of these survivors and the aim is to navigate across the Earth avoiding dense clouds that drop ‘husks’ onto Earth. The remaining humans have created ‘storm shields’ that clear the clouds and thereby reduce the ‘husk’ attacks. (Still following?) It is your job to leave the sanctuary of the shields and venture into the world finding survivors, resources and other allies to expand the ‘storm shields’ and return Earth back to its original state.

The game comes in two modes, Battle Royale or a cooperative player-versus-environment “Save The World” mode. The latter is solely unique for the Fortnite game. Gamers play in a third-person perspective and change between managing their resources at a safe home base. They then embark on missions to complete quests and collect as many resources and rewards as they can to advance the game’s story.

The player can also spend skill points which are earnt by the completion of missions and technology points collected over time. These can improve a player’s base attributes and ‘power level’. Most missions take place on procedurally-generated landscapes where the player builds up fortifications and then face off waves of ‘husks’ that will try to destroy the objectives.

Fortnite has gained multiple awards and high-ranking success. It has spawned dance moves and after its initial release had sold over 500,000 copies in pre-orders. With success however, has come immense criticism of the game, not due to its content but how addictive it has been perceived.

It has been reported of the numerous cases of children taking time off school or staying indoors and refusing to leave their computer screens. The addiction has become so bad that one child electively refused to even go to the bathroom, instead choosing to wet himself. Another young girl had to endure bowel surgery after forcing herself to not go the bathroom. It may sound silly, but this is the reality of the addictive force of gaming today.

© Ubisoft

Cases like these have forced groups including WHO (World Health Organisation) to recognise addiction to Fortnite and other video games as a mental health problem. After playing Fortnite, we can see why.

Everything about the game is designed to attract you to carry on and you find yourself encouraging you to reach the next level. The numerous landscapes and missions are never-ending and so there is no conclusion to the game’s narrative. Another aspect that could be debated is the peer-pressure many young people face with Fortnite. If you play it you’re cool, if you don’t, you’re not. It is a tricky line to tread.

Fortnite is a good game with an interactive element that is clever and unique. Its premise is simple and yet the possibilities are endless leaving the player wanting more. This addictive tone can be dangerous however and although we enjoyed playing the game we can see why parents have many serious and valid concerns.

If your child, or even yourself are thinking of jumping into the ‘husk’ destroying world then do so, but with caution. Play it in small intervals and take regular breaks otherwise you’ll become as Zombified as the monsters featured in Fortnite, except this addiction is much more complex and harder to turn off than a computer or gaming console.