If you have children under the age of 18, odds are you’ve heard of Fortnite. If you’re above the age of 24 and have heard of Fortnite, odds are you’ve asked yourself: what on earth is Fortnite? Luckily you have us at the DLC to help you try keep up with your digital native children in the ever-changing cyberspace.

Why is it so popular?

In the most basic terms, Fortnite is a third-person shooter. This means that you view your character from behind as you make them run around and shoot. Fortnite is undoubtedly violent, however the violence is presented in a non-threatening and humorous manner. This is why it’s so popular. Rather than using guns, guts and gore to draw their audience in the developers turned to something universal: pop culture.

The game is built to be inherently funny. The world is cartoonishly beautiful and the weapons and objects were cleverly designed to ensure engaging game play and maximum hilarity. Items range from the mandatory pistols to the bizarre boogie bomb, which causes your opponents to dance uncontrollably.

The game also doesn’t allow itself to be confined to the genre of the ‘shooter’. A large part of the gameplay involves collecting materials in order to strategically build forts and use the geography of the space to your advantage. You can also play in teams, either randomly chosen or self-assigned, which brings in a social aspect that adds even more entertainment value as you get to laugh with friends or make new ones.

This formula makes a game that is terribly addictive, and not only to a niche audience, but to anyone that is vaguely invested in pop culture.

So how is it played?

There are many different formats and game types, but the most popular, and the one that launched Fortnite to viral status, is Battle Royale. This format is based on The Hunger Games and Battle Royale series, with 100 players being placed on an island with a play space that gets smaller as players are eliminated, forcing players to interact and fight. The objective is to kill off the rest of the players and be the last player standing.

Games are usually quite short and will last around twenty minutes, this is great as children can use it as a quick break when getting back from school before starting their work. However, it also creates the same attitude that’s adopted when watching Netflix, where it’s easy to convince yourself that “just one more won’t hurt”.

Should I be worried?

Not necessarily, but don’t be naïve. As with other social games there are predators who may try to ‘groom your children’, this is because once you are placed in a game with someone you are able to speak to them. This can be avoided if your child is aware of how to react if a stranger tries to make contact with them. All players are able to speak to each other during matches, for younger children we suggest turning off the audio so that they aren’t exposed to any obscenities that may be spouted by other players, either intentionally or in the heat of the moment.

If your child is getting addicted,  or if you want to prevent addiction, set boundaries. Only allow a few matches per day; or if your child is playing a different game mode set a time limit such as only one or two hours a day.

Remember to maintain an open conversation with your child around these things. This way if they come across something questionable or something that makes them feel uncomfortable it’s more likely they will feel able to approach you, rather than feeling ashamed.

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