Every so often new phases come along and sweep the ‘teenage world’ by storm… Pokémon Go, Flappy Bird, Nintendo DS, Sims, Club Penguin… you get the picture. But the latest invention has become less of a fun passing phase and more of a concerning addiction. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about Fortnite.
Fortnite is a video game which features different game modes including Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like husks and defend objects with fortifications they can build, and Fortnite: Battle Royale, a free-to-play game where up to 100 players fight in increasingly-smaller spaces to be the last person standing. To me, it doesn’t sound overly enticing. But to teenage boys, it seems to be the most exhilarating and addicting game in the world.
Parents all over the world have been noticing, worrying and complaining about their children who seem to want to play all day every day. One American mother used the phrase “addicted to it like a drug” to describe the effect of Fortnite on her son. She claimed this was because it was the first thing he thought about when he woke up and was the last thing he thought about before going to bed. Similarly, it was the main thing he talked about and the main thing he spent money on. When not playing the game, he often watched videos of other people playing it on YouTube. Researchers have claimed that as the game can be played in groups, players often feel like they are letting down their team/community if they are not available to play at all hours of the day.
I’ll be honest, when I started writing this article I knew I would need more than my own opinion to provide a realistic opinion. So I asked a bunch of mates who I knew played avidly and often. However, all of them were surprisingly confused about why I was approaching them. I explained the Fortnite Addiction and questioned whether they had been affected by it. I asked them if they lost sleep in order to play, if their work suffered because they prioritised gaming, if they felt a constant need to play, if they wanted to stop but couldn’t. Most importantly, I asked them if their mental health was suffering. None of them seemed to think they were affected in this way. Luckily for me, their friends were quick to dispute this. They claimed their mates were always keen to play late into the night and were often “busy” playing Fortnite. It seemed to me everyone I asked admitted to playing often, but was completely in denial about being “addicted”.
I get it. Addiction is a scary word, particularly when you think you are the one addicted. Even more so when you don’t know how to stop. If you are a parent, the simple solution seems to be to limit gaming time. If your parents don’t do this, you might have to take matters into your own hands. It seems hard, but trust me it will be worth it! Limit yourself and your own gaming time. Set aside an hour a day for Fortnite, or two, or three, whatever seems reasonable to you. Just don’t go beyond it. Learn to pick up some other hobbies. Do some extra chores, pick up some hours at work, organise a yard-sale. Who knows, with all that extra cash you might be able to get some more in-app purchases. Right?
If this line of argument is right, what are the implications for teenagers playing? What are the implications for adults playing?
What would be a solution for this problem? (Other than banning Fortnite altogether!)
Who is responsible for the Fortnite Addiction in the first place and who is responsible for solving it?
Practical Thinking Questions:
Do you think Fortnite is an issue? Do you think it can be solved?
How can you help your mates who are addicted to Fortnite?
If you are “addicted” to Fortnite or a similar game, challenge yourself to a week without playing. Reflect on how it went at the end of it. Do you feel better or worse?