Fortnite is a survival game where 100 players fight against each other in player versus player combat to be the last one standing. It is a fast-paced, action-packed game, not unlike The Hunger Games, where strategic thinking is a must in order to survive. There are an estimated 3.4 million concurrent players on Fortnite.
How Does Fortnite Work?
Players skydive onto a small island, are equipped with an axe and must scavenge for more weapons, while simultaneously avoiding a killer electrical storm. As players are eliminated, the field of play also gets smaller, meaning players are put closer together. Updates regularly flash on screen detailing how another player was killed “X killed Y with a grenade”, adding to the sense of urgency. While the game is free to play, you do need to create an account with Epic Games.
To make this easier users can use their Google or Facebook accounts to log in with Epic Games, or users can create a new account. To get the game started and get on board the “Battle Bus”, you will need to download Epic Games. You are randomly assigned an avatar each time you play the game, regardless of your own gender. Gamers can choose what mode they would like to play in, solo, duo mode or in a squad. You can add friends to your squad and play as a team. When you are ready, you can select play to start the game.
Why Do Children Like it?
Battle Royale is a game of survival, which means in order to win, you must defeat the other 99 online players in the game. This competitive element adds a touch of urgency to the game, gamers also need to avoid being caught in the eye of the storm to remain in the game, there are regular countdowns to when the storm is approaching.
The games colourful animations and the graphics will appeal to younger users. Epic Games quite cleverly tease gamers with new updates, new offers and new ways to play. Fortnite will soon be released on mobile devices. Users can unlock new items for free by continuing to play the game free of charge.
There is also a degree of fun to the game with Christmas and dinosaur costumes available for purchase. Avatars can also do dance moves, using the ‘Emote‘ feature, these can be activated during the game which can be quite amusing. Many of these dances are inspired by popular culture, enabling gamers to enjoy them both in the game or in the schoolyard.
There is a social element to the game, users can play in groups or two or more and chat to each other on headsets or text chat during the game. Fortnite has become the most viewed game in history on YouTube. There are a number of popular social media influencers or YouTube personalities who also play the game and provide tutorials on how to achieve a higher score.
What Are the Risks?
- The biggest concern for parents of children accessing this game is screen time. Due to the immersive nature of the game, some children will find it difficult to stop playing. Games can be over in seconds or, if the user is achieving a high level then it can seem imperative to continue playing.
- The PGEI rating is 12+ but age is not requested when creating an account.
- The platform is integrated with Facebook and Google, the concern is that users may add other gamers to these platforms. Talk to your child about making friends with people they do not know online.
- The default setting enables other online users to add you as a ‘Friend’. Should you add them as a friend you are able to private chat with them.
- Gamers playing this online game connect from all across the world may be any age or gender and can remain totally anonymous.
- Users may be exposed to offensive language by other players on text chat or live chat.
- There are in-app purchases that can be expensive but are not necessary to play the game. Children must have permission from a parent or they could be banned from the game. Theirterms and conditions state: “When you provide payment information to Epic or its authorized processor, you represent that you are an authorized user of the payment card, PIN, key, account or other payment method specified by you, and you authorize Epic to charge such payment method for the full amount of the transaction.”
Advice for Parents and Young People
- If your child is using Xbox One or PlayStation 4, you can use the parental controls to limit the amount of time your child can play the game.
- There are a number of different play modes and settings that can make the game safer for children. For example, users can choose to play a game of survival just among friends. If your child is playing solo mute the volume on their device so that they do not have to communicate with people via the game.
- Epic Games also provides privacy settings for users accounts. Friend requests are automatically set to ‘Public’, however, this can be changed to ‘Friends’ or ‘Private’.
- If your child is playing with friends, asking them to leave mid-game can cause tension. Give them the responsibility of managing their time so that this does not happen. Longer games can last about 20 minutes, but also be over in minutes. Get them to make a rough estimate how many games they can play within the timeframe they have.
- The game can be very absorbing, try asking your child questions about what they are doing in the game, and how it works to draw their attention back into the present. This can help to wean themselves out slowly of their virtual world and back into reality, making it easier for them to stop playing the game.
- Make your child or teen aware of the reporting features that are available to them while playing the game.
- Talk to your child about making friends online or speaking with people anonymously. Remind them never to give out personal information online, or give access to other platforms they use where personal information can be found. Check out our guide to sharing online:https://www.webwise.ie/parents/talking-points-posting-sharing-online/.
Reporting on Fortnite
Gamers can become friends with other gamers on Fortnite.
You can choose not to receive friend requests in your settings.
If you do become friends with someone on the platform you have three options ‘Whisper’ which means to talk to the person in private messenger, ‘Unfriend’ or ‘Block’.
Users can report any other player while playing the game.
Click on the player and select ‘Report’. This will bring you to a feedback form, see below.
Users who break the terms and conditions will be banned from the game
Information from webwise.ie
Get advice on gaming here: webwise.ie/parents/play-it-safe-an-introductory-guide-to-online-gaming-for-parents/