‘Idiot’ pro players accused of ruining Fortnite

Battle Royale: New challenges were released yesterday for the second week into season nine.

Season nine is here, with new challenges to explore. However, some players say the game is being ruined by professionals who no longer play fair. Is there any point still trying to win?

One hundred players. A horde of weapons. A whole world to explore. One objective: be the last player standing.

Welcome to Fortnite: the world’s favourite video game, with 250 million registered users. On 2 February this year, the number of people playing at the same time was bigger than the population of Portugal.

But some players are complaining that the game is now too hard to get close to winning. Gaming experts say there is a widening division between “casuals” (who play with their friends for fun) and so-called “sweats” (expert players who compete in tournaments) for whom Fortnite is a full-time job.

“Kids are so tied up in trying to win the fight that they lose the bigger picture in trying to win the game. That is a problem this game has had with idiot pro players that probably shouldn't be labeled as pros” said one player known simply as Tfue, last night.

According to tech writer Corey Plante, Fortnite is having “a mild identity crisis” as it struggles to appeal to sweats and casuals at the same time.

New features like turbo-building, which was introduced in season eight, have exacerbated the problem.

“Turbo building ruined the game for anybody who plays less than two hours a day,” wrote one player online. “The less time you play, the harder it gets.”

But perhaps the last thing players need is encouragement to spend more time online.

In 2018, at the height of the Fortnite craze, the World Health Organisation officially classed gaming addiction as a mental illness.

Just last month, a GP in Leeds prescribed a two-week Fortnite ban for an 11-year-old boy.

It’s not just children. A man in his late 20s admitted to The Guardian that he used illegal drugs to stay awake, gaming for days at a time.

According to psychologists, Fortnite has two features that are linked to addiction. First, a system of increasing rewards, like earn V-Bucks (the in-game currency) and unlock skins. Secondly, a high social component which encourages participants to play together and share strategies.

But Julie Cook, whose son recently started playing Fortnite, argues that the social upsides of the game are being ignored. “Alex was playing with his mates, not against them, and they were strategising and planning as a unit.”

“He became more confident, happier, lighter and more fun to be around,” Cook concluded.

A losing game?

Is Fortnite getting too hard for casual players? Can Epic, the company behind Fortnite, pull off a balancing act and keep both young casuals and hard-core sweats happy? Or is the game heading for a split, and the loss of half its fan base?

And if young players desert the world of Fortnite, would it be good or bad? Julie Cook calls Fortnite: “The childhood equivalent of a work team-building exercise” when it’s played with healthy time limits. Should we lament that young people are learning to socialise in a digital world rather than in real life? Or celebrate that gaming no longer means sitting in your room, isolated?

You Decide

  1. Do you like Fortnite? Give your reasons for why or why not.
  2. Do the benefits of video games outweigh the negatives for young people?

Activities

  1. Design your own, brand new Fortnite map. Name and label the different regions.
  2. Write a letter to your parents explaining the ways Fortnite has made your life better or worse.

Some People Say...

“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.”

Shigeru Miyamoto, game designer at Nintendo

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Fortnite is a first-person shooter game that was released by Epic Games in 2017. It has more than 250 million registered users around the world. The most popular mode is Fortnite: Battle Royale, in which up to 100 players, either solo or in squads, are parachuted onto a large map. The players then search the area for weapons and resources, and attempt to survive to be the last person (or squad) remaining.
What do we not know?
How long Fortnite can maintain its dominance of the gaming world. Google search terms for Fortnite peaked in March 2018, the same month that it made a record $223 million in revenue, but have since been in steady decline as players move on to new games.

Word Watch

Standing
So that players cannot just hide in a remote area forever, the safe area of the map slowly shrinks over the course of the game, forcing players to keep moving and, inevitably, bringing them into contact with each other.
At the same time
There were 10.7 million players online, a Fortnite record.
Exacerbated
To make something worse.
V-Bucks
Players can spend real money to buy V-Bucks, or earn them by completing challenges.
Skins
Outfits you can use to embellish your character in the game.

Subjects