If you have a child or young person in your life, you will probably have heard of Fortnite; but what is it and should your young person be playing it?
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite: Battle Royale is a free online multiplayer game set on a cartoon-like island where 100 players fight to be the last person standing. Each game lasts about 20 minutes if you survive to the end, and players can choose to play alone, as a duo or add friends and play as a ‘squad’.
What is the age rating for Fortnite?
The official age rating for the game is 12+ due to “frequent scenes of mild violence” but does not feature gore. The visuals are bright and cartoon-like (appealing to young players and in contrast with the subject matter) and players can download themed costumes adding to the fun.
During the World Cup, the England team spoke of how playing Fortnite was their game of choice away from the pitch and made the game even more popular.
Why is Fortnite controversial?
For many, the issues of the game lie in how addictive it is for the young players and its effect on their mood.
Players get frequent on-screen reminders of how close other players are, and who has been killed off by what, adding sense of urgency to move on and evade the weather and players threatening their survival.
Programmes like ITV’s This Morning discussed the game and the mood related effects, “I had to tell him ‘you’re not acting the way you normally act’. The game is so full of energy and adrenaline that when you pull them off they are screaming at the television; they’re hiding, they’re calling each other, they are living in it with their friends. When they try and come out of it everything is boring, it can’t compete.”
Another worry for parents and carers may be the feature to add people as friends.
Players can remain completely anonymous, but once you add someone as a friend they can join your ‘squad’ and players can send messages between each other.
Internet safety site Webwize.ie gives a comprehensive breakdown of how to manage the privacy setting on the game here.
Whatever information you read, the overwhelming advice is to see the game for yourself; see what is involved and how your young person plays it and assess for yourself whether it is appropriate and safe for them.
If you are looking for advice on other books, films, and games (including Fortnite) Common Sense Media gives reviews from real parents and carers on content and suitability. You can visit their website here.