There's a new video game in town starting to gain so much popularity among the younger set, some are referring to it as the "new Minecraft." The $40 game, called "Fortnite" was first released in July 2017, and tasks players with surviving in a post-apocalyptic world by defeating zombie-like creatures through solo play. However, a free, multiplayer spin-off version of the long-form game, called Fortnite: Battle Royale, was more recently released, enticing even younger gamers.
Although some are praising the game for its emphasis on teamwork and strategic, creative thinking, Fornite: Battle Royale does involve some violence and use of weapons, and its action-packed shooting objectives are being compared to known violent games like Call of Duty.
If your child has caught the "Fortnite frenzy" either from playing the $40 version or the free multiplayer version (both available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, newer iPhone and iPad models, PC, and Mac), here's what you need to know about the game moving forward — and if your child hasn't started playing yet, these are the things to be aware of before signing off on it.
1. The game is rated "T" for "Teen" and is listed in the App Store for kids ages 12 and up.
However, because of popular YouTubers like DanTDM, who often plays Fortnite in videos while discussing gameplay with his more than 18 million followers, kids younger than 12 years old are being reached. It's up to you to decide if your child younger than 12 is ultimately mature enough for the game, but hoping that they won't be exposed to it before their twelfth birthday may not be realistic depending on whether their friends play or if they're exposed to it through social media and YouTube.
2. There are definitely educational and social lessons to be learned through playing.
Both versions of the game teach players to think strategically when it comes to building their custom defenses against enemies. In Battle Royale especially, skills like teamwork and communication are touched on as players work together to gather resources, build bases, and reach objectives.
3. However, that communication is sometimes built with strangers.
Through online gameplay, young players can chat with friends, as well as other players whom they've never met — and who may be much older than them. There are two ways players can engage in live, unmoderated chat: voice chat* and on-screen text chat. In either mode, younger players may be subjected to (up to 99) older teens or adults who may expose them to profanity or mature content, or could potentially ask your child to reveal personal information that may put them at risk.
*There are settings within the game to turn voice chat off, but because a child may easily figure out how to turn it back on, be sure to discuss talking to strangers online with your kids before they play.
4. There is some violence and plenty of weapons.
Although the violence in the game is described as "cartoonish," the nongory gameplay still features tons of weapons, mainly guns. While the bloodless action may appeal to you more as a parent than the more intense violence other shooter games like Call of Duty, there's no mistaking that the guns are used in an intentionally violent way throughout the game. In regular Fortnite, the solo gameplay is also described as a bit scarier, thanks to the presence of the zombie-like creatures, called husks.
5. There are available in-game purchases.
Although not vital to the game, if your child has access to the App Store, they could make some in-app purchases for cosmetic items.
6. The game is highly addicting.
In reviews of the game, some parents claim their tweens are staying up all night to play. In Battle Royale particularly, each battle is only about 20 minutes, which is short enough for a child to want to play another quick game but long enough that the time playing will start to add up after a few battles. If you don't have screen time rules set up in your home, consider doing so before the trendy game takes hold of all your child's free time and then some.