Back to school is upon us, and if I can sum up Summer, it would be Fortnite: Battle Royal. What is with this game? I watched Andrew the other day dance with a group of like ten enemies. If your kids are anything like mine, games have ruled the Summer because of the time were in. Back to school schedules are going to be a rude awakening for our Fortnite gamers. We can help them down from this Fortnite withdrawal.
If you aren’t familiar with Fortnite: Battle Royal, then let me share the simple idea of the game. One hundred gamers drop from a flying school bus to start the game. From there, they land on an island with many locations to search for weapons and supplies. They can use these supplies to build structures, traps or even jump pads. Once feet hit the ground, the ultimate goal of the game is to be the last one standing.
So, what are we going to do about this? It’s only a matter of time before we get reports of kids grouping in the school hallways doing the Best Mates emote together. Like any “summer detox,” as parents, our response to the coming weeks will be critical.
Remember It’s A Social Thing
To kids, Fortnite is a social experience. Recently, I asked Andrew why he liked playing Fortnite. Aside from the appeal of an action-based gun game, he enjoys playing because he can play it with friends. Developers build games like Fortnite with addiction in mind. Good graphics, fast-paced and a game designed to allow chance and luck, it keeps you coming back. It’s the social aspect of the game that keeps kids wanting more. The kids rarely play Fortnite when they can’t game with each other, or a friend. Except for a couple of solo rounds, it’s been all group play, laughter, light banter and a good time.
How can we maintain this? We can understand that Fortnite, and gaming in general, is a part of a kid’s free time. When the weather cooperates, I know I’d rather have them outside, but we can’t ignore that they need the social experience of the game also. Work this into their daily schedule or routine, if you have one.
Don’t Be Against Fortnite
With experience, I can say making Fortnite, or any gaming, the enemy is not the answer here. If anyone wants to see my ten-year-old have the attitude of a teenager, visit my house when I rip Fortnite away and make it a bad thing. Looks are given, words said, and a downward spiral begins which leaves my Son feeling misunderstood and me feeling like I just deflated his life. We have to respect that screen time is a norm now. When I was ten, it was 1993 and the radio, matchbox cars and playing outside ruled my life. It’s not like that anymore. Games are more accessible, and TV shows are being replaced by YouTube, Netflix and Twitch live streams.
So, how do we get ahead of this? We accept it and set appropriate limits. Often, I set time limits for screen time. With Fortnite, it’s a bit different because you can be surprised by an ambush and die two minutes into the round, or last until the final two players thirty minutes later. Have some flexibility. If you want to limit game time to an hour, consider that when that hour is up, the round may be in progress. Having your child turn the game off immediately is not a good idea here. In their eyes, they would be abandoning the team. When that time limit has been reached, go for the final round approach. Let your child know that the current round is the last one, regardless of how long it lasts. While you may get some requests for one more round if they are eliminated quickly, it will balance out for those times where they go over the time limit due to being in the middle of the round. As parents, we have to be fair also.
Reward Good Behavior
Fortnite offers a thing called V-Bucks. In-game money that you can use on various items like emotes, pickaxes and skins. Skins are enormous because you don’t want to look like you’re a noob by not having a new skin. I had the default skin until recently, and every time I played with the kids and a friend of theirs, it was the same question: “Has your Dad ever played before?”. It’s part of the game. Get skins and show it off in game.
It comes down to give and take as all things do with kids. Fortnite and gaming, in general, is embedded in them, so they will expect it to be allowed with their free time. Find out what works best for your family and run with it. Here, we earn game time by doing chores and completing things like writing in a journal and putting their clothes in the dirty clothes basket. Each chore/task can give them an extra 15 or 30 minutes of game time, with a cap during school days.
I’d love to hear how you handle the gaming situations in your home.