'Fortnite' Reaches New Level Of Video Game Popularity — And Addiction

Dec 4, 2018

With Jane Clayson

“Fortnite” — some call the popular video game addictive. It’s got everyone from kids to professional athletes hooked.

Guests

Chris Palmeri, LA bureau chief for Bloomberg News. (@chrispalmeri)

Nir Eyal, author, tech blogger and “behavioral designer.” Author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” (@nireyal)

Sarah Domoff, clinical child psychologist and psychology professor at Central Michigan University. She directs the Family Health Lab, a training clinic that seeks to promote healthy media use in adolescents. (@sarah_domoff)

Eric Klopfer, professor of comparative media studies and director of the Education Arcade at MIT, a group dedicated to the research and development of education video games. (@eklopfer)

From The Reading List

Bloomberg: “Fortnite Addiction Is Forcing Kids Into Video-Game Rehab” — “Debbie Vitany is fighting a losing battle against Fortnite.

“Her 17-year-old son, Carson, has been logging 12 hours a day on the video game, searching for weapons and resources in a post-apocalyptic world where the goal is being the last person standing. Teachers complain he falls asleep in class and his grades have plummeted.

“‘We’d made some progress in getting him to cut down his Fortnite hours and get better sleep, but he’s slipped back into his old habits,’ Vitany, who lives near Saginaw, Michigan, said in an interview. ‘I’ve never seen a game that has such control over kids’ minds.’

“Vitany’s anguish is echoed by an army of other parents, teachers and bosses around the world grappling with a game that sucks up hours of players’ time — sometimes to the detriment of other activities. More than 200 million people have registered to play Fortnite, which has become a billion-dollar business for its creator, Epic Games Inc. Some desperate parents have sent their kids to rehab.”

WBUR: “How ‘Fortnite’ Hooks Your Kid, And Why Experts Say You May Not Need To Worry” — “A Boston-area couple recently sent a desperate email to two dozen fellow parents, seeking ‘advice, sympathy—anything, really’ to help with their teenager’s ‘Fortnite’ habit. After they decided to impose a screen time limit, the angry teen declared they had “ruined not only his social life, but his very life itself.”

“Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, reports recently helping a family ‘make an action plan for one teen who was so addicted that it was interfering with schoolwork, sleep and life goals.’ They took advantage of ‘a natural break during a family vacation this summer,’ he says, and the teen was ‘contracted to not restart when he returns home.’

“I’m no stranger to ‘Fortnite’ binges myself. Slouched on my couch, headset on and controller in hand, I’ve spent countless late nights gunning for the No. 1 spot (a ‘Victory Royale!’) by myself or with friends. Admittedly, I stink at the game. But even as a 25-year-old noob, I often have trouble getting myself to turn it off.

“‘Fortnite: Battle Royale,’ a multiplayer, last-man-standing shooter, is the hottest game of the year, expected to rake in $2 billion by the end of the year. It can be played for free on every console and screen, from Xbox to iPhone. Although rated ‘T for Teen’ in the United States, it’s no secret that many of the game’s more than 125 million players are kids — and that many have a hard time stopping.”

The New Economy: “How Fortnite became the most successful free-to-play game ever” — “What do you get when you combine ‘Minecraft’ with ‘Call of Duty,’ and then add vital elements from ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)’? The biggest video game on the planet right now. ‘Fortnite’ is a battle-royale-style multiplayer, filled with cartoonish characters and played across numerous platforms. It’s colourful, fun, easy to play, hard to master and enjoyable to spectate.

“Released in September 2017, the current version of the game sees 100 players parachuted onto an island where they fight to survive, building forts and collecting weapons to bolster their position. According to SuperData, ‘Fortnite’ made over $1.2bn in its first 10 months of operation – an extraordinary feat, especially for a game that is free to download.

“With more than 125 million players around the world, ‘Fortnite’s’ fan base is both colossal and incredibly varied. It has grabbed headlines and been obsessed over. In other words, there’s a buzz around ‘Fortnite’ that puts it in a league of its own.”

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