The Dos and Donts of Being a Fortnite Parent
More than you hoped, less than you thought.
OK look, I’m first to admit I don’t especially care for Fortnite. It’s a fun game, quick matches, and an enjoyable style, but Overwatch got its hooks into me a while back and I’m very much a one-online-only-multiplayer-game-at-a-time kinda guy. I played about six hours, shrugged, and moved on.
That said, both Overwatch and Fortnite have been bananas popular with the kids, and many of us are, ya know, parents to some of those. So I’ve pulled together some handy do’s and don’ts for parents of Fortnite players, since I can see a lot of people stressing out, some of whom ask me, and this is just easier. Has this been done before, and in a more serious way? Yes. But I feel this topic needs a more lighthearted tone, and you’ll soon see why.
First things first though; what the heckarooney is Fortnite?
I’m actively trying not to be condescending here, but I have seen people asking questions like “what is Fortnight” and “my son likes Fort Night”, so let’s clear some stuff up. Fortnite is, and I paraphrase from Wikipedia here, an online third-person shooter video game, available as a full game and as a free-to-play battle royale style game. Fortnite Battle Royale, usually abbreviated to Fortnite, is the free-to-play battle royale mode “where up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing”.
Still with me? Cool.
Fortnite Battle Royale is now out on PC, XBox One, and Playstation 4, as well as Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android devices. And it’s free, which is why al the kids love it. But that’s one of its issues, because Epic Games have to pay the bills somehow. Which brings us to our first point:
DO: Keep an eye on the microtransactions
Fortnite is free to play, which is half of why its so popular in the first place. While there are no pay-to-win aspects, there are an awful lot of cosmetic upgrades that can be very tempting to people with low impulse control, and/or children. Skins and emotes are functionally useless, but look cool, and your kid will want to buy them with real world cash money.
If little Timmy wants some V-Bucks, make sure you know he’s buying them. Do yourself a favour and enable parental controls to disable these. If your rugrat yells and screams because they want to dab at other people, that should be your call, not theirs.
DON’T: Stress about the violence
Almost every game in human history is about conquest. This sounds like a made up thing, but its true. Chess is about regicide. Monopoly’s goal is financial domination. We are a species built to dominate, and video games like Fortnite give us more of that. Yes, little Timmy will be shooting people in the face. No, he’s probably not going to get the shakes from it, or try to emulate it on the playground.
The quirky graphics of Fortnite make the violence soft, palatable, fun. Even so, it’s no more violent than anything else. Don’t sweat it.
DO: Monitor their hours
None of us like being the fun police, but many of us also understand gaming addiction and the intense desire to never stop playing. Hell, I was up until 2am last Sunday on the Switch; I’m not a role model. Trust me when I say your children will not be able to power through the next day.
Keep an eye on their playtimes. They’ll hate it, unless you’re super sneaky, but it has to be done or they’ll never do anything again.
Parental controls can take care of a lot of this but, if all else fails, you know where the router is. No Wi-Fi, no problem.
DON’T: Enable voice chat
It seems odd that I’m advocating silence in a multiplayer game, but good God the language out of some of these people. Many of them had the high pitched shriek of a prepubescent boy who had just learned what swear words existed, but those kids’ parents are apparently useless. Not only should you not let your kid be one of those (and though you don’t want to think it, they might be), but Fortnite is not a game that really needs voice chat, at least in my opinion.
Save little Susie’s ears from being washed out with soap and disable the voice comms.
DO: Let them play it
This one should go without saying. Video games are not destroying our children, no more than movies or books or that weird guy who keeps starting fires in the park. This is a fad game, and I know a thing or two about that, having lived through two separate Pokemon fads with about 30 games and a tattoo to show for it. The kids who didn’t play Pokemon? Losers.
Look, I don’t make the rules, but banning your child from playing a game all the other kids are playing will lead to them being ostracised and bullied. Personal experience talking, and I don’t think you want it happening to your kid.
And, well, that’s about it. Hopefully this helps a couple of people to understand more about what the kids are crazy for. See you in a while… Or a Fortnite.
… I’ll see myself out.