Every number released in conjunction with Fortnite is staggering, even within the context of a $137 billion industry. On the same day as its Fortnite Pro-Am tournament at E3, the video-game industry’s largest convention, the game was released for the Nintendo Switch, and within 24 hours it had been downloaded more than 2 million times. Analysts estimate that Fortnite is currently raking in more than $300 million a month, and has made its maker, Epic Games, more than $1.2 billion since its battle royale mode launched in late September.
Fortnite is virtually identical on every platform, and players can move from their PlayStation to their phone and back without missing a beat. Milligan first heard about the game back in September. “It was the next new game, like when Minecraft came out, but way more popular.”
The cadence of a Fortnite game is that nothing is happening and then, very suddenly, everything is happening. The game has three main modes: solo (every player for themselves), duos (teams of two), and squads (teams of three or four), but there are consistently around 100 players in every session.
Even when kids aren’t playing Fortnite, they’re talking about Fortnite or finding ways to profit from it.
Video games pioneered the dopamine-rush cycle. Using bright graphics and sound effects to make players feel continual accomplishment, arcade games were honed to make players feel like they needed to feed in just one more quarter over and over again — slot machines that kept people entranced without ever having to pay out. The addictive core of video-gaming never went away, even as games became more complicated: Every win, every high score, every 100 percent completion, every secret and Easter egg was a chance for a little rush of accomplishment and satisfaction.
And then mobile products learned to do the same thing. Give people goals, reward them with flashes of color, and you could entrance them into something resembling addiction. This was called, tellingly and unsurprisingly, “gamification”: Treat every app and every activity as a video game, with scores, prizes, and leaderboards. Snapchat rewarded users who talked every day with “streaks”; the exercise app Strava allowed you to compete with other joggers and earn badges; Foursquare turned the entire world into a game of king of the hill.
The process has come full circle. Fortnite is a gamified video game.
Playing video-game shooters, we now know, is not a major contributor to youth violence. Granted, kids’ enthusiasm for Fortnite can be a little much, but we are old enough to remember Garbage Pail kids and have played Pokémon.
Fortnite is, in many respects, a classic “third place”—a place that is neither home nor school, but where kids can socialize and play beyond the watchful eyes of parents or teachers. These are places where kids learn to negotiate conflict, become independent, and explore what kind of person they want to be. They are important experiences that we too often design out of our kids’ lives through structured activities and all of the shuffling back and forth we do in today’s busy world.
we’ve seen that one of the best things educators can do is bystander training.
Your reflexes are shot and your hand-eye coordination is dodgy – so how do you keep up with the kids in the world’s biggest video game? Here are the 13 rules of survival
Fortnite is a “battle royale” game in which 100 players land on an island, run around collecting weapons, resources and items from abandoned houses, build forts for protection, and then attempt to blast each other right back into the starting menu. The last player standing wins.
If you’re thinking of dipping your toe in, here are 13 tips to get you started.
1. Stay on the battle bus until the end
2. Land on a roof when you eject from the battle bus
3. Prioritise weapons over resources in the opening seconds
4. Learn about weapon grading
5. Learn to make a basic fort
6. An assault rifle and a shotgun are your must-have weapons
7. If you want to practise shooting, go to Tilted Towers
In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation