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Talk about gaming in the family

How does Fortnite work

Are you wondering what exactly Fortnite is? Here’s a brief introduction from the Norwegian Media Authority

Do you find yourself scratching your head when your children play Fortnite? Don’t despair – this basic knowledge will help you get a handle on what’s going on. 

Fortnite is a free third-person shooter game from Epic Games, in which both the building and social aspects help contribute to the experience. In the most common modes of the game, hundreds of players are divided into teams of varying sizes and are then thrown out onto an island, where they fight to be the last players standing.  

The island is large, but surrounded by a deadly storm that is gradually closing in. This means that the playing zone gradually shrinks and forces the players closer together. One important defensive strategy is the option to construct fortifications – anything from shelters to houses and towers.   

Fortnite also includes a number of different modes, including peaceful modes for building and pure socialisation.  

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In Fortnite, you can build, drive, chat and perform a variety of activities in addition to the main game features relating to shooting and survival. Photo Epic Games Caption

What accounts and equipment do you need to play Fortnite?   

The game is free, but requires you to create a user account with Epic Games. You can play Fortnite using a mobile phone, tablet, console or PC – using the iOS, Android, Playstation, Xbox and PC platforms. 

Parental consent is required when creating accounts for users under the age of 13 and consent is given by providing debit or credit card details (for verification, no account charges will be made in connection with registration).   

One advantage of Fortnite is that the game supports play across different platforms. This means that players using PCs, mobile phones, tablets and gaming consoles can all play together, as long as they have added each other as friends using their Epic accounts.

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Fortnite can be played with friends across different platforms and is largely a social game. Photo Epic Games Caption

Who is Fortnite suitable for?   

Generally speaking, it might not seem very pleasant to be shooting at each other, but Fortnite has a lot going for it when it comes to interacting with others.   

The game constitutes an important social venue for many children and adolescents and is often used as a social meeting place after school.   

When it comes to the competitive aspects, winning will require motor skills and a clear head, but also co-operation and teamwork.   

The recommended minimum age limit is 12 years (due to the mild violence) and it is up to you as a parent to consider whether the game is suitable for your children.   

The three most important aspects for you to consider are violence, time and communication. You should also think about any in-game purchases, but the game is generally free to play.    

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Fortnite can be pretty challenging in terms of motor skills and the ability to keep a clear head. Team spirit is also important when playing together with others. Photo Epic Games Caption

Violence and negative emotions   

The violence in Fortnite is bloodless and cartoonish. Some of the weapons are slightly realistic, but “dying” in the game is more like being hit in dodgeball.   

Instead of bodies falling to and remaining on the ground, the character dissolves into blue squares and disappears from the game environment until the next round.   

In other words, there is little content that could scare children in this game.   

This does not mean that Fortnite cannot trigger other negative emotions, such as anger and frustration in situations where a match is lost. This could lead to situations in which the child shouts in front of the screen, a bit like some people do when watching a football match.   

Children may also be disappointed in their own skills and might feel guilty in relation to their teammates after an unsuccessful round. You can deal with this in the same way as you would with a loss in competitive sports and similar – good sportsmanship is also a virtue in the world of gaming.   

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Strong emotions may accompany both wins and losses when gaming. This is common among children and adults alike and is not dissimilar to the way in which wins and losses are manifested in sports, both as participants and spectators. Photo Epic Games Caption

Communication   

Fortnite supports voice chat and players can add one another as friends. It also supports text chat, but only in the lobby menu between rounds.   

Fortnite can be viewed as a social media platform, as this is essentially the function the game fulfils.   

With regard to restrictions, you should basically opt for the same limits in terms of who your children may communicate with as you would impose online in general.   

Parental controls (hidden behind a six-digit PIN code) allow you to disable voice chat with people other than your child’s friends. You can also block friend requests you do not approve of.   

Interventions like these will reduce the chance of your child being subjected to inappropriate behaviour, while also reducing the chance of being exposed to scammers.   

There are many examples of children being tricked into disclosing personal details and credit card information because they believe it will allow them to access the in-game currency, V-Bucks.   

The game menu has a dedicated reporting feature but attempts like these may also take place outside of the gaming platform, such as on social media. Ultimately, the most important thing is to train the critical abilities of your child.   

Even if your child only plays with their friends, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on things. Just as with physical venues, gaming can also be a venue for bad behaviour, bullying and exclusion. Is everyone invited to be part of the team?   

It will be easier to spot issues if you, as a parent, familiarise yourself with the game a little.   

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All platforms that allow for interaction also provide the opportunity to bully and exclude. This is something you should be aware of as a parent. Is my child friendly and inclusive when playing Fortnite? Photo Epic Games Caption

Time   

A typical match can last around 20 minutes. Matches can also take less or more time, but they never last more than 30 minutes.   

It can be very frustrating to be pulled out of the game midway through a match. It is not always about being obsessed, but it might be that your child feels a responsibility in relation to their teammates because it is a social obligation to start a match with someone.   

A good strategy would be to give the child 20 minutes’ notice before dinner or homework so that they have time to complete the current match. It can also be a good idea to finish in good time before bedtime, as gaming can make children excited.    

The game also has a number of different modes that take different amounts of time to play. These modes include everything from concerts with stars such as Ariana Grande and Travis Scott to art exhibitions, as well as social and creative modes for which there are no time limits. 

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Even though Fortnite is free to download, there are plenty of opportunities to make in-game purchases. As a parent, this is something you should be aware of, as there are many temptations for children and adolescents wanting the coolest “skins” or better equipment. Photo Epic GamesCaption

In-game purchases   

It is free to play Fortnite, so all in-game purchases relate to how the character looks and the various moves used to express themselves, i.e. a victory dance or a wave.   

A Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks, the in-game currency, and lasts for a season, which is typically around 10-12 weeks. The pass provides access to a number of rewards, largely cosmetic items and various moves, which are unlocked by playing.   

The price of V-Bucks varies, but in the Epic, PlayStation and Xbox stores, 1000 V-Bucks cost NOK 79 as of April 2022. Individual cosmetic items and moves are also available to buy, with prices ranging from 200 to 2000 V-Bucks.   

There is also a subscription scheme, Fortnite Crew, which costs just over NOK 100 per month. The Battle Pass is included with this and the player will receive 1000 V-Bucks and new cosmetic items each month.   

Note that there is a lot of marketing aimed at children and adolescents in the game and this can be difficult for children to spot. For example, a number of big companies have created Fortnite experiences that encourage players to buy virtual items or develop a relationship with the brand.  

 

All images: Epic Games