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Why I hate Fortnite

PUBLISHED: 17:21 02 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:21 02 August 2018

Boys especially can get carried away while gaming  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Boys especially can get carried away while gaming Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Children should be outside playing this summer, not stuck indoors fighting over a computer game says Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

It started rather stealthily in our household last summer – the Fortnite occupation.

First there were the quirky, fun little dances my kids (then 9 and 11) were ‘making up’.

“Ah, isn’t that sweet?” I confided in my husband. “Look, they’re making up dance routines together. See, they’re not going to spend ALL the holidays sitting around watching telly.”

That was just, as we soon found out, phase one. Damn you Eric Sugg (the game’s designer).

Next came all the talk of ‘skins’ and ‘V bucks’. I’ve always considered myself quite au fait with youth lingo, but this was beyond me. It was like they were talking in riddles. And when their friends came over, they might as well have been conversing in Hungarian because I didn’t have a damn clue what they were on about.

“It’s fine,” a male friend who checks out all apps/computer games for me before I allow my children to play on them (for their one hour daily gaming session *laughs hysterically at how this has lengthened every day in the holidays).

“It’s not violent, apart from a bit of killing,” he said. Oh, just a bit of killing is it? Well that’s alright then!

By Christmas Son and Daughter were at each other’s throats, vying for airtime on the game.

And now, as we enter the middle part of the summer holidays, I can honestly say I’ve looked at the PS4 several times and thought about smashing it up into a thousand tiny pieces with a mallet. Yes…that would give me the same amount of pleasure as ripping into a family-sized bar of chocolate. I imagine there are hundreds, no, thousands of parents and grandparents across the land who feel exactly the same way.

Why do I hate Fortnite so much? Let me count the ways:

1. It’s not spelt properly. Sorry – that’s the pedant in me.

2. My kids fight over it. All. The. Time.

3. Instead of wanting to go out and play in the sunshine, my son would now rather talk to his mates virtually over a microphone through this stupid game.

4. If I get asked to buy V Bucks (which you can exchange for a whole load of virtual reality stuff) one more time….

5. It’s addictive. When I try to get the children off it I practically have to pry their little fingers off the controllers.

6. It’s led to cyber bullying.

Yes, that final one shocked me too. This is a free game, essentially being launched at pre-teens and above, and it’s become a form of ammunition for children to be nasty to one another.

Let’s go back to last Saturday and a scenario which took place in my living room. Son is playing nicely during his allotted gaming hour with a couple of friends. It’s all very animated, with lots of to-ing and fro-ing over who’s going where. And Google Home is consulted over which base they should go to next. Five minutes later, Son appears in the garden, all snotty-nosed and red-eyed.

Turns out another friend ‘hacked’ into his game and switched his player off somehow. Another friend didn’t take to this very kindly and locked Son out of the game – which in turn had a domino effect on all the other players (friends from school) who followed suit and also blocked him from the game. So I was left with a wreck of a 10-year-old, sobbing his heart out with no one to play with on the virtual landscape.

What to do?

Part of me wanted to grab the microphone and scream bloody murder down the line at those horrible boys for not giving Son the chance to explain what had happened. Husband had to pull me away from the screen huffing and puffing. It shouldn’t be like this should it? Kids should be out in the holidays playing on scooters and bikes, scraping up their knees, coming home all dusty and weather-weary....not fighting with their mates over a game of Battle Royale. Who’s with me?

Need to knows

1. Fortnite is free to use but to upgrade costs over £40.

2. It’s recommended for over 13s but loads of kids aged eight-ish and upwards are using it.

3. Children can connect to their friends using the microphone. Write down the name of the players (they are usually code names) ask your child exactly who each player is then get in touch with their parents. Perhaps you can set out boundaries for play times between them – and if there are any tears you’ve got a, hopefully, understanding parent at the end of the line to help you sort it out.

4. Every battle lasts 20 minutes. Time them. Otherwise you’ll get sucked into the world of ‘just one more minute’.

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