Move over Pokémon, there’s a new game in town!
I am downstairs cooking dinner, and all I can hear is cheering upstairs from my 15 year old. “What on earth are you doing Jackson? “
He yells back, “Playing Fortnite. Cooper and I just won the game. VICTORY!”
I walk upstairs to see what the excitement is all about it. He’s jumping up and down at this point, yelling at the face looking back at him on his iPhone. There is a huge smile on his face as he celebrates his victory. His friend Cooper is yelling back at him, and they are recapping the final moments of the game.
If you have kids (or a boyfriend / husband), chances are you have heard the word Fortnite.
This is the new it game, and kids/adults of all ages are obsessed with it. I sat down with my 15 year old to get the skinny on the game and why he enjoys it so much.
Mom: So tell me about Fortnite. How do you play? Where can you play? Is it an app?
Jackson: No, it’s not an app. I play on the Xbox, but you can play on Playstation or download on the computer. Basically, it’s a game of survival. The game has 100 players, and the last player or squad alive at the end is the winner.
Mom: Are you playing with people you know or strangers?
Jackson: Either. You can play solo, duo, or with a squad, which is like 3 or 4 players.
Mom: So start from the beginning, when you first turn the game on. How do you decide what you’re going to play? Walk me through it.
Jackson: I turn the game on and start in the lobby. That is where I can decide to play solo or can pair up with someone or join a squad. Cooper and I planned to play together, so I invited him to join my squad. We’ve been talking about it all day.
Mom: Are you wearing a headset and talking to people while you play?
Jackson: Sometimes I wear a headset. I only talk to people if I am playing with someone or in a squad. You don’t talk to the people you are playing against, just your squad.
Mom: Has anyone creepy ever asked you to play with them? Or asked you where you live?
Jackson: Nooooo, mom. There’s not much time for that when you are trying to survive. I played with a little kid the other night, and he asked me how old I was. I could hear his dad in the background helping him play. He must have just started playing because he didn’t know what he was doing.
Mom: Why are you up here screaming like a lunatic and yelling at the screen so much?
Jackson: (laughing) Because it’s exciting. The game doesn’t last very long (15-20 minutes if you stay alive), so every second is intense. Cooper and I were trying to help each other and keep from getting killed. If you get injured, you have to help each other out. I get into it, and I love to win.
Mom: Why is this more fun than the other games you play? What makes this so popular?
Jackson: It doesn’t require much skill, it’s easy to learn, and the games are short. If I get killed early, I can get back in another battle and try again. I like playing with my friends, too.
Mom: Do you think you spend too much time playing it?
Jackson: No, I don’t. It’s not like I’m sitting in a dark room alone and not being social. I’m talking to my friends. Plus I do other stuff, too. I went fishing for 8 hours on Saturday, don’t you remember?
Mom: Thank you for talking to me buddy. I love you. Now go do your homework.
I set (and enforce) limits in the house with video games, including Fortnite. I get the “just a few minutes” every.single.time I ask him to finish playing. I am using it as a reward system and as an opportunity for him to learn self-regulation and time management. (he’s 15, this is process)
Every child is different. The earlier you begin the conversations of screen time / gaming limits, the easier it will be to enforce them. It’s not a conversation you have once, it’s a conversation you have everyday. And if you show a sincere interest in what they are playing, then it becomes a welcomed conversation (at 8 or 18).
Read the Common Sense Media review of Fortnite here to decide if you think it’s right for you child.
You can also check out the video below from Good Morning America.
Please contact iParent if you have questions about Fortnite or other games.