Something is happening in households all around the free world: the Fortnite invasion. Fortnite has taken over your wifi, your child’s mind and if your kid had his/her way … your wallet. There are tears over missed opportunities to complete challenges and elation over “skins” that have tomatoes for heads. Every conversation begins with “In Fortnite….” and carries on for an eternity, while parents are hearing the teacher’s voice in the Peanuts cartoons. It’s exhausting, but it’s not all bad.
See for yourself
When I first heard my son talking about the game, I decided to check it out. I did the same with Minecraft and Roblox, and a multitude of other games. Some were allowed, others were vetoed and in some cases, like Pokemon Go, I joined him in the fun. Fortnite seemed unlikely for me, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Fortnite has two versions: Save the World and Battle Royale. Battle Royale is the free version and it is the version I am discussing. It can be described as a Hunger Games-ish survival game. Players are dropped into a world where they gather building materials, look for supplies and survive as long as possible. Like the Hunger Games, survival includes eliminating opponents and this is most often done through shooting. This is my least favourite part of the game. However, there is no blood or gore or realism in the eliminating of opponents. The games are timed by a storm that forces players into smaller play areas until only one player stands.
The games can be played as Solo, Duos or Squads of 4 players. Limited edition modes are added weekly. There is a fill mode and a no-fill mode, which means that your squad can be filled with players automatically, or set to no-fill for invite only. There is a chat mode for both text and voice chat in the game.
Public vs Private
Update September 2018: In the game settings you can now choose “Public”, “Friends” or “Private” for the game. My son is only allowed to have real-life friends on the game, so he is set to “Friends”. I suggest doing the same for your children’s protection.
So what is it that I like about this game? As a parent, I like watching my son play with his friends and seeing how they work together to survive. For a kid who has never enjoyed team sports, it’s an opportunity to learn about collaboration and respecting the views of your teammates.
My son is not permitted to play on fill mode, so I don’t worry about him interacting with strangers. Playground mode is a limited time mode that allows squads to have the entire “world” to themselves to build or compete with one another. I spent an hour in Playground mode with my son and was impressed with his building abilities. He made an elaborate building with arched doorways and bouncy rooms.
Possibly the best side effect of Fortnite involves in game purchases. Each season players can purchase a Battle Pass where they complete challenges and earn rewards. I’m happy to pay for the Battle Pass so he can have goals to achieve. However, I’m less excited about the skins he wants to buy. It’s been a great opportunity to learn about buyer’s remorse when he bought a skin that he thought he really wanted, only to have a more desired skin become available a few days later. In order to get more v-bucks, he has chores and jobs added on to his regular daily routine. It’s been a great way to get work done around the house!
As a player, I enjoy the challenge. I play with the intention of surviving as long as possible, so I focus more on being stealth than the battle. This means my son won’t play the game with me, but it also means I’ve passed him in levels because I know how to survive. I play in fill mode most of the time, and often mute the other players in my squad. My son tells me this is rude but I don’t enjoy the commentary. I have my computer set to only transmit sound if I press a button, so no one can hear anything from my end unless I want them to.
I enjoy playing the game and I appreciate the strategy, team work and creativity involved for players. However, I get tired of hearing about the game. I avoid turning it on in front of my son because I know it will lead to a huge monologue about the game. I went through the same thing with my oldest son’s Pokemon obsession in the 90’s. When it starts, I take a deep breath to center myself, go to my happy place and do my best to seem interested. When I can’t do it any longer, I mention some chores I need done and that usually ends the conversation.