In my house, we have a Fortnite problem. My son B is kind of obsessed, people. Lemme explain.
Now, truth be told, I’ll admit to being a casual gamer. I first discovered Fortnite when I saw a video of Drake playing it. Since I’m somewhat of a Drake Stan, I figured anything good enough for Drake is good enough for me. Plus, it was free. After playing it for a bit, I realized three things – firstly, I sucked. I was routinely killed quickly. Secondly, the game isn’t really free. It’s “freemium”. Like, it’s free to play, but your character is basic. To not be such a plain Jane, and to get better stuff so you might last longer, you have to either do well, to earn in-game currency (V-Bucks) to buy better stuff, or use real-life, hard earned currency to buy in-game currency. Running around dressed in a fish costume is cool, but not $20 cool to me. Thirdly, a big part of the appeal of the game is goofing around online with your friends. I have zero gaming buddies, though. Having strangers in weird outfits shooting my basic butt just wasn’t very enjoyable. Go figure.
Anyway, since the game is such a huge phenomenon worldwide, it was inevitable that B would discover it. It started off pretty harmless. One of his friends got him onto it, and the two of them would play together. Not long after, we got him a headset with a mic, since his buddy had one. Socialising with peers, no biggie, right? From there, things snowballed. Turns out, kids love Fortnite. Specifically, a lot of kids that B knows love Fortnite, including him. If he wasn’t playing, he was talking about playing. Or watching videos of people on YouTube playing. One time, he went off and came back wearing a ridiculous outfit. Backpack, goggles, Nerf gun, backwards hat. When I looked at him confused, he told me that he was wearing a Fortnite skin.
And don’t get me started on the dancing. OMG, the dancing! B is constantly busting out moves that he’s seen in Fortnite, which, while amusing, is also kind of annoying. Ever try to have a serious talk with someone, but midway through it, have to say “Hey! Stop flossing and listen!”? Oddly enough, pre-Fortnite, he was a stiff, awkward dancer. Now, though, he’s pretty slick. It seems as if other kids have stepped up their abilities to emulate the moves, too. At B’s basketball practises, boys who, on first glance, look like they have two left feet, all of the sudden will boogie like they’re auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance. I guess I gotta give Epic Games props, for improving the next generation’s co-ordination, worldwide.
For a while, B was happy just playing the game. Unfortunately for B, like father, like son. He inherited his old man’s suckiness. Initial glee would turn to screams of ‘”No! Don’t kill me!” or sad comments like “Hey guys, can you wait for me? I died.”
Compounding the situation was that his friends all seemed to have upgraded characters and weapons. He was stuck with the cheapo, free ones. One day, he said this to me:
“My friends all have battle passes and make fun of me because I’m a newb. Can you buy me some V-Bucks?”
Those are all English words, but I didn’t know WTF those sentences meant. The gist of it was that he wanted real money, to buy stuff in the game, so he wouldn’t suck. Newbs are slang for beginners. His birthday was right around the corner, so, luckily for him, he did get his wish. He got a gift card that he used to get V-Bucks.
No joke, overnight, after he bought some new skins, he went from this sorry, basic B, to a cocky, bold, trash talker, making fun of newbs. Like, less than 24 hours ago, his game was lame, but now that he’s dressed as a giant tree making it rain, he’s stuntin’ on some fools?!
There’s a bunch of other parenting things, as well, about Fortnite, that need to be monitored. Being careful talking to strangers, for example. Making sure he’s playing nicely with his friends, for another. Keeping track of his time, too. Yo, If you ever want to see someone lose their mind, try telling a kid that they have five minutes left to play Fortnite, then, in five minutes when they protest that they need more time, turn the game off, anyway.
The final straw was a social studies test that B had recently. It was about looking at a map and naming the provinces and capitals in Canada. Normally, he gets good marks……but he failed it! Now, how in the world of Carmen Sandiego does a boy, who can easily look at a map in Fortnite, memorise every nook and cranny in it, and successfully parachute down to a location on the map of his choosing, not know where Ontario is, in Canada? He lives in freakin’ Ontario! Yeah, between that and some other issues, it was time to take away Fortnite for, uh, at least a fortnight.
And that’s where things are currently. B can talk about it all he wants, and do the dance moves, but he’s not allowed to play it.
To any other parent who thinks their child has a Fortnite problem….I feel your pain.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sneak in a round or two of Fortnite Battle Royale.
B can’t play, and there’s no point letting his V-Bucks go to waste. Later, newbs!