I asked my seven-year-old son if he knew about Fortnite, and he started telling me about how he played it with his friends at lunchtime. After a minute or so I realised that he and the other boys were playing a live-action version of it in the schoolyard. Yep, this game is so big that kids will play it in real life when they don’t have access to screens.
So what is it exactly, and why has it become an obsession for so many kids around the world?
Fortnite Battle Royale is a multiplayer shooter game, described as a cross between Minecraft and The Hunger Games. The idea is that 100 players land on an island that has weapons and other combat items around it. From there, it’s a fight to become the last player standing.
What makes this different from other battle-type games is that it’s more cartoonish than gory, so it’s appealing to younger kids. Players die, but you don’t see the blood and guts. Dance moves are a part of the game, and people – including Major League Baseball players in the US – copy the moves in real life. There’s also random fun stuff being added all the time, like dinosaur-inspired outfits.
To make it even easier for kids to get into, it can be played on a range of game systems, as well as phones, and it’s free (although players can pay to buy “skins”, AKA outfits). Real-life friends can team up to play together online.