The Latest Craze - Fortnite
If you’ve got boys over the age of 8 and I mention the word Fortnite I’m sure, you’ll know what I’m talking about! That’s not to say girls aren’t playing it as well, it’s just that boys seem more obsessed with it.
Childhood crazes come and go. Not so long ago it was fidget spinners, Pokémon Go and Minecraft. Now it seems that all they are talking about is Fortnite.
Our grandsons get to play outdoors a lot as they play for their local football team, the oldest plays touch rugby, they love BMXing and they’re all in the Scouts (Beavers, Cubs, Scouts). But they also like to spend time gaming, Xbox and PS4.
Just lately when I try and prise them away from the Xbox or PS4 to come and eat or get ready for something I usually get the following responses.
“shhh Grandma I’m listening for footsteps”
“I just need to finish this Game”
“I can’t leave my friends”
And you know how big a craze it is when you go to watch them play football and before the game starts half the boys are Flossing. If you don’t know what Flossing is, I’ll give you a clue it has nothing to do with cleaning your teeth, carry on reading and you’ll find out.
What is Fortnite
Ok so what is Fortnite? It’s an online game that can be played as a team or squad of 4. You can also play solo or in a duo. Teams communicate through their headsets, forming strategies and helping each other out. Even if you’re in another room you’ll probably hear the shouts of “look out”, “I need help”, “over here” – they can get very loud!
In Squad mode, you play on a team of four. Duos and Squads can either be friends choosing to play together or randomly matched players. All players in a match are playing in the same mode. Our grandsons always play in a squad with friends rather than strangers.
100 players leap out of a plane on to a small island and fight to survive until there is only 1 left, that is 1 team if you’re playing in a team.
Hidden around the island are weapons and items, including crossbows, rifles and grenade launchers. Players move around the island looking for weapons and resources.
The resources you collect let you to build structures where you can hide or defend yourself. As the game progresses, the playable area of the island is continually reduced, so players are forced closer and closer together. The last survivor / squad is the winner.
How much does it cost?
The free version of Fortnite is called Battle Royale. You can buy a Premium Battle Pass that gives you access to exclusive clothing and items – tiered so that doing well in the game or carrying out weekly challenges to earn more points unlocks access to more items.
A Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks, which is the game’s own currency – you need to pay £7.99 to download 1,000 V-Bucks, which lasts until the end of the season. Fortnite: Battle Royale is divided into seasons, with each season lasting a couple of months. Each season has a theme and season four is superhero-themed After the season ends you will need to buy a new pass for the next season.
How long are the games?
Unlike many games that go on for hours, this one takes about 20 minutes. However, it’s never only one game so it may be necessary to put limits on the number of games played as a way to keep it under control.
As your kids are likely to be playing in a team if you try and prise them away in the middle of a game you’ll be met with a lot of resistance. Basically, you’d be asking them to walk away from their team mates!
I always give our grandsons a 15 to 20-minute warning before it’s time to come off, that way they can finish up the game and not have to abandon their team mates. I’m not saying they still don’t complain about having to come off but it’s better than making them abandon a game.
You’ll also find that your kids will happily carry on watching the game unfold after they’ve been eliminated so they can cheer their team mates on.
Why do Kids love it so much?
It has bright, almost cartoon-like graphics and you can change your skin to stand out from the crowd. There are loads of different skins (costumes), such as space suits and dinosaur outfits, the themes change with the Fortnite seasons. Beware, it is possible to spend real money to buy extra V-Bucks to buy new skins, but you can also earn V Bucks by completing challenges.
I mentioned Flossing earlier, there are a variety of dance moves that you can pull off during the game, to celebrate a win etc. Some of these have taken on a cult appeal and you’ll see boys Flossing on the football pitch, school playground or just about anywhere.
There are different dance moves that you can buy with V-Bucks and I love the fact that one of them is the Saturday Night dance moves.
There are various challenges that you can do in Fortnite and one of them was a dance challenge where you had to find one of the Saturday Night Fever dance floor locations I had great fun telling my grandsons all about how Grandma and Grandad went to Saturday Night Dance lessons in the 80s and showed them some of the moves.
The game is really fun to watch, and it’s been a big hit with all the famous video game YouTubers and streamers, such as Ali-A and DanTDM.
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Should I worry about the violence?
Yes, Fortnite is a multiplayer shooter game. But I’ve sat down next to my grandsons and watched them play. It is incredibly engaging and has a very bright, friendly visual style and it does not depict bloody violence.
When playing in teams this requires strategy and communication and can sometimes result in players criticising others when they are not so happy with their efforts, but it can also result in great cooperation, teamwork and communication.
It’s down to individual parents to decide whether it’s suitable for their kids or not. But let’s face it boys can turn a stick in the garden into a gun.
Finally, tips for staying safe online
Make sure you know how to block and report before they start using the game. In case you need it. On Fortnite you can report players who are behaving inappropriately by using the in-game feedback tool located in the game Main Menu, you can also make a report by emailing the creators of Fortnite
Make sure they know never to respond if they get asked something inappropriate, or if they are asked for any personal information such as where they live, age, etc.
Beware of cyberbullying between players. Especially when they are groups of children that go to school together. Sometimes it can lead to bullying each other if they don’t do well enough in a game.
Have a look at my post on Screen Time for some tips.
As with everything it’s a case of being sensible and monitoring what they’re doing. Talk to them about it and you can use it as a way to help you communicate with them. And, if you sit down with them a watch them play you may get a little addicted yourself.