Your Kids are Probably Playing Fortnite…Is That Good or Bad?
Over the last two school years, there hasn’t been anything bigger than the explosion of popularity in the game Fortnite. I am half tempted to explain the game to you, but I imagine that you already have an idea of the game especially if you have kids in either elementary or middle school. Just in case, for those of you that are not familiar with Fortnite, it is a video game that people play on their phones, computers or game consoles and the premise is that people collect supplies in order to be the last person remaining alive on a fictitious island as a narrowing storm forces players to converge. Students have the ability to be on teams of 5, called squads, play as a duo or play solo. Additionally, if they are teaming up, they have the ability to talk and hear one another through microphones and speakers.
As the Head of Middle School, I feel compelled to know what pop culture my students are engaged with. When I heard students were watching the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” I too took to the show so I could understand what they were engaged with in order to provide parents and students with resources to help guide conversation. Naturally, since Fortnite was all abuzz with the students, I had to do what any respectable division head would do – download it to see what was so amazing about it.
WHY DO KIDS LIKE FORTNITE?
It didn’t take long for me to understand why it was so popular with middle school-aged students. Here’s what I found:
The gameplay is fairly easy to maneuver, graphics are good and the motivation of being #1 in the game is incredible.
You could connect live with other players that you know.
So many others are playing it that it gives students something in common.
You can go “viral” as a Fortnite “streamer”.
You can make money playing it (if you are good enough).
From my initial conversations with students, I came to find out that it is not just the boys playing either - girls are involved as well. As I became more familiar and read up on it some more, it became evident that not only did students like to play it but they also liked to watch other people play it. It’s very common that people record their gameplay and commentary and post it on websites such as YouTube, and it’s amazing how many people watch it. They typically are looking for suggestions on how to improve by watching others. For those that are playing in a team mode, there is a great deal of collaboration that happens during the gameplay. They learn to be accountable for each other and try to ensure each other’s safety by working together.
WHY DO PARENTS HATE FORTNITE?
It’s addictive and consuming their kids’ lives.
Although it does not show it graphically, it does promote violence.
You may not always know who your kids are connecting with.
You may have to hire a coach to help your kids.
They don’t like video games in general.
They view it as a waste of time.
Their kids could be doing something more productive like playing outside.
Let’s face it, games like Fortnite are not going away. These companies make money and they make a lot of money. The game is free to play but you can purchase different costumes that your player wears so kids think that’s “cool.” There is no added playing feature to having a different costume but kids like to say they have the latest thing out there.
As with everything, get to know what your kids are doing. Try playing the game with them or watch them play it so you can fully decide if it is right for your child. Use it for a short-term motivational tactic to get students doing their work but be careful as that could backfire. Should you allow it, definitely limit their time with the game. Have a conversation with them about the dangers of not knowing who they are playing with. If they are using a microphone to communicate with their teammates, make sure they aren’t sharing personal information.
Here are a few articles to read up on to help you understand a little bit more about the game: