New Battle Royale game Fortnite attracts 40 million players worldwide

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Photo from flickr.com/bagogames

Emily Forgash, Media Editor

Since its launch in July 2017, the Battle Royal game Fortnite has become a worldwide phenomenon. The game currently has 40 million players globally, almost five times the population of London.

The game starts with players being dropped in a group of 100 from a flying bus onto an island. Throughout the game, they pick up items like guns and kill the other players until there is only one winner alive. There are also multiplayer versions of the game where teams of players can fight together.

The accessibility of Fortnite is what originally attracted Jay Heyman (’21) to the game. “The fact that it’s free for everyone to play and you can just download it makes it appealing to not only young kids but older people as well,” Heyman said. Furthermore, because Fortnite is free to play on an iPhone, Playstation 4 (PS4), computer or Xbox, it is easy for all users to play.

Along with it being free to download, Emma Rudesill (’19) finds the design of Fortnite compelling. “I’ve found this game to be simplistic yet still interesting. Building… adds a layer of mechanics to the game,” Rudesill said. To protect themselves, players can build forts and structures in the game.

However, Science Teacher Livia Santos, who used to play the game but no longer does, believes Fortnite is appealing because of how competitive it is. “The aspect of being in the map with 100 players [makes it] super cool to be the last man standing. I feel like that’s a badge of pride, like, ‘Oh, yeah! I’ve gotten four wins on battle royale!’,” she said. “I had a student that had 17 and I was like, ‘That’s insane!’”

Although Fortnite is free, players can buy items within the game to help them win. “I have put money into the game. In that sense it has negatively affected me since I’ve spent so much money on just one single item in the game,” Rudesill said. Players can purchase skins, pickaxes, gliders to fly and different dances.

Due to the popularity of the video game, Fortnite, Advanced Placement Economics students created a project titled ‘Fortnite and Chill,’ where students can pay to buy frozen yogurt and participate in Fortnite tournaments. Photo by Liz Merryweather

Despite playing for hours on end each day, Heyman does not get bored because he usually plays with his friends. “I think the teamwork and talking with friends whilst playing makes it even more fun,” he said. “You build bonds between your friends and increase how [well] you work with them.”

Harry Pfeiffer (’21) is relatively new to Fortnite and used to play on an Xbox. All of his friends play Fortnite on PS4s so he could never play with them. Since the multiplayer aspect of Fortnite is so important, Pfeiffer’s friend gave him a PS4. “If someone is willing to get a console for someone else just to play with them, I think that shows how much of an impact [Fortnite] can have on relationships,” Pfeiffer said.

However, Heyman feels that with accessibility and socializing comes distraction as he spends much of his free-time on the game. “If I’m not busy then I’ll probably play five hours a day,” he said. Fortnite creates an internal struggle for students trying to balance playing time and homework. “Sometimes it can be a distraction from homework if your friend is bugging you to play. But if you really want to play and you are alone it could also be a motivation to be like ‘I’ll finish my homework quick so I can play’,” Heyman said.

Although Heyman doesn’t play Fortnite in class, notifications from the game throughout the day distract him. “There are always updates on the game, so sometimes when you see them on social media you get the itch to play,” he said.

I have put money into the game. In that sense it has negatively affected me since I’ve spent so much money on just one single item in the game.”

— Emma Rudesill

Santos has noticed some of her students playing games including Fortnite in class. She thinks so many people play Fortnite in school because it’s always on their minds. “Some students are playing during school mainly because they had already logged on earlier and they want to finish up that map. Or they haven’t logged in earlier and they want to compete right now because right now could be a time when other people are at school [and playing] and then that gets competitive,” she said.

Additionally, Santos believes the distracting aspect of Fortnite negatively affects its players. “[They] need to have control,” she said. Santos recognizes this desire and has decided not to install the game on her work computer, as she knows that she would be tempted to play. In fact, Santos herself stopped playing for fear of getting addicted to the game. “If players know they have no control over it they should be smart enough to not install it somewhere where it’s easy to play,” she said.

Pfeiffer has similar beliefs to Santos in that Fortnite can have a negative effect on its players, but he also sees the positives. Players can video stream themselves playing Fortnite, gain viewers and make money through donations, sponsorships and ads. “It’s just like any other job; it takes away from [their] time,” Pfeiffer said.

It seems as though Fortnite is taking over the gaming world as people have already made it their jobs. Despite this, Santos notices similarities between Fortnite and Pokemon Go which took over most of the world in the late summer of 2016 with over 750 million downloads. “I remember when Pokemon Go came out, everyone played it for the entire summer and then nobody played it after that. I feel like Fortnite is going to be a little bit like that. It’s lasted a little bit longer than Pokemon Go, but next there’s going to be something else,” she said.

Contrary to Santos’ beliefs, Pfeiffer thinks Fortnite is here to stay. “I think it’ll be more like Minecraft, as they keep on making updates just as Minecraft makes updates,” he said. Minecraft was released in 2009 and still has 75 million players per month. “There are a ton of updates to Fortnite and there are new seasons every couple of months that introduce a whole new map, so there’s always a new experience for players,” Pfeiffer said.