Fortnite: What Parents Need to Know
If you’re a parent and you haven’t been asked by your kids to download Fortnite yet, chances are you will very soon! Fortnite is one of the most popular online video games of all time, and gamers of all ages can’t seem to get enough of it. Its rich replay ability, genial graphics, and brilliant blend of savvy strategy and intense action have captivated many millions of people around the world—including very likely, your own children.
But like with any other online activity that kids love, parents might have questions and even concerns about Fortnite and how it’s sweeping up young gamers across continents. At Geneseo Communications, we take your family’s online safety and security very seriously. And while we love online gaming as much as anyone, we understand why parents are cautious about any popular internet trend their kids love to engage in.
In this article, we take a deep dive into Fortnite, briefly explaining what the game is about, why it’s become such a global phenomenon (especially for children) and detail some safety and security settings parents may want to employ. Keep reading to learn more about this game—and why your kids are likely to obsess over it!
What is Fortnite?
First released to the public in 2017, Fortnite is the brainchild of Epic Games, a major producer of video games. Within just three months of its release, over 5 million copies of the game were sold, a truly astounding number for a new game franchise. It very quickly morphed into one of the world’s most beloved video games ever developed.
Fortnite offers an intriguing mix of action and adventure, strategy, and survival. Players are quite literally dropped onto an island to play with and compete against up to 100 other players online (depending on the version of the game they play), requiring each player to quickly adapt to the new terrain, think through their plans carefully, develop and maintain teams, and ultimately outwit one another on route to victory.
On each island, there is a treasure trove of weapons, resources, and other items for players to scavenge—items critical to success in the game. Like with other strategy games, players explore their island territory, hunting and collecting resources to build up their defenses. They’ll also build bases, defensive towers, and other settlements to prevent attacks from world-generated enemies.
Today, Fortnite is not one game; rather, there are multiple versions of the game available. The original version, Fortnite: Save the World, is a “cooperative” (or “co-op”) game, in which players work together to achieve missions and goals—namely defending the island from zombies. Next, Fortnite Battle Royale expanded the game still further, allowing up to 100 players to play in any one game, while simultaneously providing options for solo or two-player games, or in small groups (called squads) of three or four teammates. Battle Royale’s ultimate goal? Be the last player standing!
A third version, Fortnite Creative, is a “sandbox game”, where players can more freely roam and discover the lands they encounter and craft and build on them. Another version, Zero Build, focuses on tactics rather than on building up structures and communities. In this way, players can select the type of game they want to play—whether emphasizing base-building, cooperation, or winner-take-all battling—depending on the version of Fortnite they’re up for playing.
Fortnite’s graphic design is more cartoonish than many other similar games, which simulate more lifelike features. That design decision seemingly “tones down” the intensity of the game and helps broaden the appeal to younger audiences. But don’t confuse cartoonish with amateur—the graphics and effects are outstanding and a considerable draw for players of all ages.
Why Do Kids Like It?
The cartoon-like graphics are not Fortnite’s only appeal to children, however. The game is incredibly compelling—and much to the chagrin of some parents (or even players), even addicting! Like similar games, building structures, crafting tools and weapons, and defending and protecting yourself and your teammates turns out to be enormously satisfying, as well as challenging. And with seemingly endless varieties of factors and variances, especially on the island terrains the game is played on, Fortnite is eminently replayable.
Apart from its exciting gameplay and visual appeal, the social aspect of the game is another major draw for kids. Children can play Fortnite with another friend, or even more collaboratively with a group of friends. They can also text and voice call each other as they play. Thus, it’s a less isolating experience than many other video games can be.
Potential Parental Concerns about Fortnite
Fortnite has been rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board as “T” for Teen. That means it’s deemed suitable for children ages 13 and up. Other online watchdogs and parental advisory groups, such as Common Sense Media, concur with the “T” rating, citing Fortnite’s interactive chat feature and not-insignificant amounts of violence.
The social aspect of the game means that kids can interact with other players, which could raise some parents’ eyebrows in the same way any other online interactive social media app or program can. Fortnite also includes firearms and related gun-violence, as well, which some parents may feel uncomfortable about.
Fortnite’s Safety and Security Settings
Given Fortnite’s popularity with kids, it’s natural for parents to want to exercise caution, and the programmers seem to respond to their concerns. For starters, Epic built parental controls and settings right into the game.
Some of these parental controls are both strong and protective, especially for online social interactions some parents may be wary of. For example, one Fortnite setting can be activated requiring a parent to approve any new friend with a special PIN number before your child can play with, chat and otherwise interact with that person. Other settings limit texting and chatting even further, allowing chatting with pre-approved friends only or completing turning off chat with anyone—including friends.
For parents worried that their kids may be playing Fortnite too much, Epic created a weekly playtime report that parents can receive via email. It details the number of hours your children play Fortnite, so that their other priorities (i.e., homework, exercise, and extracurricular activities) can be balanced. Epic even lets parents filter out inappropriate language by toggling a setting that detects offensive language in text chats and replaces them with heart shapes.
Fortnite’s popularity continues to endure, and parents are likely to face decisions on whether to let their kids play it whether solo or with their friends. We hope parents are now better armed with both basic knowledge about the game and the parental control tools and settings Fortnite offers so that they can make informed choices that are best for their families.
For more helpful tips on online safety, be sure to check out Geneseo Communications’ social pages. We’re here for you!