Do you live with a 7-18 year old? If so, I’m guessing you’re aware of a videogame called Fortnite. It’s gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years and is probably the most popular game of all time at this point. It’s whimsical and violent at the same time. There are a variety of dances that the characters can do and this is likely what you’ve noticed your kid, or kids, doing at the playground.
It’s cute. It’s charming. It’s violent. It’s rated “T for Teen” with reference to violence as the main reason. When I first saw a trailer for it, I was alarmed by the way the characters fell to the ground when they’re killed. It’s fairly real. It’s not very cartoon-like. There isn’t an explosion of blood, but they do flop lifelessly to the ground after being shot.
How do you feel about that level of violence for your kid? It’s worth talking about.
Fortnite is a popular game to watch on Twitch. Twitch.TV is a site for watching a variety of content, mostly game related. It’s amazing in many ways. You can watch gamers like Ninja play Fortnite in real-time and chat with him while he does it. You can also pay some money and get him to say something for you while he’s playing. Guess what, he’s made $500,000.00 a month doing this.
There is an interesting On The Media Podcast about this growing phenomenon. One story follows a guy who has placed the fate of his life in the hands of the chatroom participants who are paying for his survival. He does what people say for money, including asking women to go out with him.
The bigger point is, essentially, all of this is here to stay.
We’re in a new period of history where technology has moved us to experience reality differently. We have to be discussing this with each other. We have to be discussing this with our kids. I don’t think it’s as simple as monitoring your kid’s screen time and setting limits on it. I think it’s more than that. This is a new form of entertainment that is interactive and loaded with ups and downs. I’m new to it myself, but I think the way to go is to look at it with our kids and help them navigate it in a healthy manner rather than shut it down and presume that those rigid limits will secure their safety. It reminds me of what it was like when we first brought Atari into our homes. It reminds me of the darkness of the local arcade and the slight twinge of danger that wafted through the air in that dingy space. It was scary and exciting. It also brings to mind the days when television was first coming into the home, moving the radio aside – another major shift in our consumption of media. We need to be aware of this new change and address it head-on rather than avoid it or dismiss it. Take a look and talk it over with the adults and kids in your life, and – much like a Fortnite gamer would do – make sure to keep those lines of communication open.