Love it or hate it, Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world right now. It's a craze that has kids enthralled and parents enraged.
If you’re the parent of a gamer, chances are you hear nightly commotion. There is a Fortnite fight playing out in homes across the country.
“It’s become almost an addiction,” said mom Jacqui Villa. “The kids run in from school and drop their bags and they want to play Fortnite. Mayhem breaks loose and they are yelling. You have to go in and unplug. He knows our standards of what we expect from him in his school work and that always comes first.”
Released last year, Fortnite Battle Royale, where up to 100 players battle to be the last one standing, is a blockbuster. According to Business Insider, it’s among the most popular games in the world. August was its biggest month yet, with nearly 80 million people, including plenty of kids, playing.
“I see parents everyday who question if there is a button they can press or something that will make this all go away or make it easier,” said teen tech expert Katie Greer. “Whether it’s Fortnite, whether it’s social media, Instagram, Snapchat, Minecraft, whatever comes out tomorrow, it’s important that from the gate, parents establish in their household what is appropriate times, how long, times of the day that certain times are off limit, or even whole days or certain places in your household where these devices are not allowed. Shut off, put away, out of sight, out of mind.”
Greer says parents don’t need to play Fortnite or understand the psychology about why their kids love it, but they should have some general knowledge.
“I want you to know on a google level if they can talk to people they don’t know,” said Greer. “You should know if there is a way to shut it off; how to make your kids private; learn if there’s a way that credit card information can be shared or used; and learn about safety precautions that can help kids, so they can continue to use this, but they can do it in a safer and smarter way.”
Some parents are embracing the trend, and hiring Fortnite coaches for their kids.
“The prices per hour for a coach range from the low end of $10 dollars an hour up to hundreds of dollars an hour, depending on the coaches skill and notoriety,” said Jim Drewry, the CEO of Gamer Sensei, an e-sports coaching firm based in Boston. “Increasingly we’re seeing parents who either want to take lessons with their kids or want lessons for their kids and that’s a really new phenomenon.”
In addition to learning teamwork and other skills, this could be a lucrative career path one day. For the first time ever, a professional gamer is on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine, and more than 30 colleges, including three in New England, now offer gaming scholarships. Some have varsity e-sports teams.
“We work with a number of colleges to help coach their students, and you’re going to see more and more collegiate opportunities,” said Drewry. “Those can potentially lead to a pro career, the same way a collegiate football career could lead to a pro football career. By the way, you’re not going to get concussions playing Fortnite at college.”