Epic Games’ Fortnite is the newest online game sensation with children all over the world. The multiplayer survival action game has become the world’s largest game due to it being free to download, and having a silly, cartoonish and off-beat sense of humour. This has led to a lot of coverage recently regarding being safe online and using the game. We want our parents to be fully informed about the game to help their children be safe.
Fortnite is available on Sony Playstation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, iPhone and iPad. An Android version will also be released very soon.
The game is an example of the popular Battle Royale genre. In this genre of game, 100 people gather, either as individuals, or in teams to play against each other in a shootout to be the last person/team to survive. It is influenced by movies such as The Hunger Games Series (12A), the Japanese gory film Battle Royale (18) and the book it was based off of the same name.
The game is rated PEGI 12, meaning that it isn’t suitable for children under 12 though its larger than life graphics and goreless cartoony gameplay mean that a lot of parents think that it is suitable for a younger child to play. It goes without saying that if children are playing games that involve shooting, it is far more preferable that they play game like this rather than a game in the Call of Duty or Battlefield franchises, which are realistic, gory and PEGI 18 rated.
There are lots of fun features, but there are also some risks parents should be aware of.
- Children can add friends not only though their exisiting online accounts with their game console, but with an Epic Games account provided by the maker of the game.
- This allows people who use Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, iPad and Android to have a friends list, play and chat across all of these machines.
- Playstation 4 owners are only allowed to communicate and play with people playing on PC, iPhone, iPad and Android.
- There is a voice chat feature that also works across these platforms too. You can disable this by selecting the 3 lines in the top right of the screen, select the settings icon, choose the ‘Audio’ tab at the top of the screen and go to the ‘Voice Chat’ option, where you can select ‘Off’.
- The violence is the game is very cartoony. You can kill others in the game using a variety of weapons including guns, axes and pickaxes.
- There are in-app purchases in the game giving children access to new costumes for their characters and their weapons (known as skins) this can become very expensive if not kept under control. Please make sure that you don’t have bank or credit card details of your own stored in your child’s account.
- Players can be reported to Epic Games in-game if there are any concerns about others behaviour.
- If your child starts doing dances like “the floss” its likely because they’ve seen it performed as a celebratory move in Fortnite.
As always, when it comes to playing games we recommend that parents pay attention to the PEGI ratings. If you child is still going to play please talk to them about what they are playing and who with, and let them know that they can always come to you or another trusted adult if something happens in the game that upsets them. We also recommend that you set rules and boundaries, and use parental control tools to limit your child to using the games and features that you deem suitable. Gaming can be a healthy part of day to day life, but too much screen time is never good for anyone.
Being an online game, these matches are live, can last in sessions of up to 20 minutes and cannot be paused. You may cause a huge amount of resentment if you ask your child to stop half-way through a round, as they’ll lose any points that they’ve gained and their friends playing with them will be unhappy with them. I would recommend that you ask your child not to start another game if they have less than 20 minutes left of playtime, as that would overrun any allotted time that you give them.
As with all things, the craze will pass. Remember Pokemon Go? Minecraft? I bet you barely hear about those now!
Some children will keep playing, if less frequently, but most will move onto the next craze that comes along.
If you still have any issues or concerns about this or any other game, please do not hesitate to contact the school and arrange to speak to Miss Taylor or Mr Kerton.