Fortnight. The first person shooter game that has taken the entire world by storm. Fortnight has been rumoured to have contributed $3 billion dollars to Epic Games’s revenue in 2018 (TechCrunch). While the producers of Fortnight advise that the game is appropriate for ages 12 and older, you would be hard pressed to talk to any child above the age of eight or nine who has not played Fortnight.
Different parents will have different views on video games that they let their kids play in general, but what makes Fortnight so different than playing hours of Minecraft or even a first person shooter Star Wars game? The difference may be the high level of addiction that seems to be occurring with Fortnight players.
Fortnight is easily chalked up as a blend of Hunger Games meets Minecraft, but there’s more. There’s creating your character’s, or avatar’s, skins (usually at a financial cost) to look cool. There’s the element of teamwork, or working together online with real friends from down the street, or online with friends from across the world. And, yes, there is first person shooting.
Maybe your child has already been exposed to first person shooter games, such as Call of Duty or Star Wars Battlefront, so this isn’t new territory. Is the concern with kids playing Fortnight a concern around first person shooter games or is it more than that? Certainly with the epidemic of school shootings happening, predominantly across the United States, it begs to question why parents would be comfortable allowing their kids to play the role of a shooter.
Some will argue that video games first person shooter games are simply make believe and do not impact the thoughts on the kid’s likeliness to go out and become a threat to society. Research to date has not supported a correlation between first person shooter video games and active shooters. However, it may seem unsettling to know these are the images coming into your kid’s minds and possibly seeping into their dreams.
So what’s the big deal about letting kids play Fortnight if they love playing it so much? The problem is just that. They love playing it so much. So much, in fact, many kids are choosing Fortnight over games and activities that they used to enjoy; games and activities that helped them have balance in their lives.
Being allowed to play hours on end of Fortnight takes away from other activities that may include physical activity like soccer, basketball, or whatever sport they previously had an interest in. Playing so much Fortnight also takes time away from developing their minds through seemingly “boring” activities like reading, playing music, playing outside, or having artistic interests.
Choosing to predominantly do one activity over others is a sign of addiction. As a comparison, just because doing social drugs may feel good, it doesn’t mean they’re good to do in terms of social, emotional, and physical development. Fortnight needs to be addressed for what it potentially is: an addiction.
The American Psychiatric Association has now added gaming addiction as a diagnosis. Signs of a gaming addiction include: a preoccupation with gaming, signs of withdrawal including sadness or anger when not playing, and giving up other activities that were previously enjoyed, to name a few.
This generation of Fortnight players is going to be a social experiment for the future. Perhaps parents should ask themselves, do they want their kids to be the guinea pig for such an experiment that could have life long effects? That’s for parents to decide.
American Psychiatric Association. Internet Gaming. 2018.