by Leah Nieman
The Fortnite craze seemed to begin almost instantaneously, which means you might be struggling to keep up with the latest fad. If you caught a glimpse of your kids playing this survival action game and are wondering what it’s all about, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, I’ll walk you through a quick Parents Guide to Fortnite and break down everything you need to know about the popular video game. Hang with me for this short read. By the end, you’ll feel a bit more confident in knowing how your kids are spending their time in this unique gaming world.
PARENTS GUIDE TO FORTNITE
WHAT IS FORTNITE?
Fortnite is a video game available on multiple platforms, including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, Mac, and mobile. The game combines elements from popular building games, like Minecraft, and intense third-person shooter games, like Call of Duty. While some kids may enjoy playing the game’s solo version, Save the World, its multi-player version, called Fortnite: Battle Royale, is the campaign that has been gaining popularity recently.
The game started with its Save the World campaign, in which players compete as “heroes” who must band together in a post-apocalyptic world to defeat zombies and avoid “the storm” to stay alive. This version of the game requires players to construct elaborate forts, traps, and weapons to battle their enemies.
Battle Royale is a free offshoot of the Save the World campaign in which up to 100 people participate in a match to the death on one large map. Players are dropped on to the map from a huge party bus in the sky and must compete to be the last one standing to win the game (like a video game version of Hunger Games). In order to stay alive, players must build forts, weapons, and traps to protect themselves from the other players on the map.
In this version of the game, there are three modes of game play: solo, duo, and squad. In solo mode, players are dropped individually in the game and must play on their own to win. In duo mode, players can play in pairs, and in squad mode, players compete in teams. In both duo and squad mode, your child can connect with friends online or they will be randomly matched with other players from around the world.
WHY DO KIDS LIKE IT SO MUCH?
There are several factors that play into the popularity of Fortnite with kids. First of all, it’s a free multi-player game that allows kids to play together online from the comfort of their own bedroom. The bright, cartoon-like graphics, silly characters, and offbeat humor that appear throughout the game are also very appealing to younger players. Additionally, the game is filled with tons of silly weapons upgrades and funny costumes for the main characters.
And then there’s the dancing. In spite of the violent nature of the game, characters can bust out some serious dance moves at any given time, making the game almost as fun to watch as it is to play. That’s probably why Fortnite has become so popular with video game YouTubers and even celebrities like Drake, who frequently live streams his gamepla.
HOW DO I LIMIT PLAY TIME?
If your child is playing on a gaming platform like Xbox or PlayStation, you can use the parental controls to limit the length of your child’s playing time. Or you could set a timer for a certain amount of time. One thing you should keep in mind when limiting screen time for this particular game is that matches can last up to 20 minutes. If you cut your child off from finishing a match, they may be leaving their teammates in the middle of gameplay, and they could lose any points they earned if they are forced to quit the game early.
HOW MUCH DOES FORTNITE COST?
The full version of Fortnite, which includes the Save the World campaign, is $59.99, but players can download Fortnite: Battle Royale for free on any platform. There is a variety of opportunities for in-app purchasing through the free version of the game, though. In addition to a Premium Battle Pass, which is a $10 subscription for exclusive skins and costumes for characters, upgrades and in-game currency can be purchased using real money.
But the great thing about Fortnite is that most of these in-app purchases don’t provide an advantage in the game – they’re purely cosmetic. Players can also unlock new items as they progress throughout the game without having to pay any real money.
IS FORTNITE APPROPRIATE FOR KIDS?
Although the game is violent in nature, the cartoonish style of the characters and the bloodless action makes Fortnite less problematic than some of other shooter games, but there are some characteristics of the game that may pose problems for younger children.
Since the popular version of the game, Battle Royale, is played online, it features online chat options to allow team members to interact with each other. While these chats may be helpful for gameplay, it could expose younger players to offensive language or other mature content from strangers who are chatting while playing the game.
While using the chat options in the game may be appropriate for tweens and teens, it is possible to turn the function off for younger players.
To disable the chat option in the game, open the settings menu in the top right corner of the main page by selecting the three bars. Then, choose the cog icon. Select the audio tab at the top of the screen and turn the setting next to voice chat off by tapping the arrows. Since this disables all voice chat options, it will make playing in duo and squad modes more difficult, so that’s something to keep in mind.
If you or your child feels like a certain player has crossed the line, you can report them by clicking on “report player” in the bottom right corner of the screen. Players can also mute other players if one player is swearing or making inappropriate comments.
Another great way to ensure your children are playing safely online is to join in on the fun!
While split-screen multi-player options aren’t available in Battle Royale mode yet, you can take turns taking part in different solo battles by passing the controller back and forth. This will help you keep tabs on your child’s activity online and make sure that screen time is limited to when you are both playing together.
HOW TO GET STARTED
If you’re still unsure whether Fortnite is right for your kid after reading this Parents Guide to Fortnite, check it out for yourself. By playing the game on your own a few times, you can gauge how the gameplay will impact your individual child. Here are a few tips to get you started, whether you’re playing on your own first or just want to impress your kids with your Fortnite knowledge when you play together.
First, you’ll need to pick your platform. The free version of the game is available for download on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac, and iPhone. Be sure you’re downloading the Battle Royale version, which is free.
When you start the game, you’ll pick a mode of play (solo, duo, or squad). You’ll then see a countdown appear when the game starts. That’s how much time you’ll have to jump off the flying party bus and into the game before you’re forced off.
To start the game, you’ll jump from the bus and plummet toward the map. After deploying a glider, you’ll land on the ground – that’s when gameplay officially begins. From there, you’ll need to search for weapons and resources and maintain your survival by battling other players that you come upon.
In addition to searching for supplies, you’ll need to build forts to protect yourself from other players using resources you find throughout the map, like wood, brick, and steel. You can create walls, ramps, ceilings, and floors and combine different elements to create a structure.
To start building, you’ll need to find materials by using the pickax you’re provided at the beginning of each game to destroy anything you come in contact with. After breaking various objects, your character will begin stockpiling resources to use for building. Buildings will protect you and your team from enemy gunfire.
Although buildings will keep you safe, to win the game you’ll need weapons. Guns are often found inside buildings or houses, but the best weapons are usually found hidden in golden treasure chests. Weapons are color coded based on rarity, with the rarest weapons being the most powerful. Gray are common weapons, green are uncommon, blue are rare, purple are epic, and orange are legendary.
Even if you have a great building and awesome weapons, chances are you’re going to get in a brawl at some point in the game. To stay alive, you’ll need to keep your armor and health up (both levels are displayed at the bottom of the screen).
Drinking blue potions will help raise your armor, while green potions raise your health. You can also find medkits and bandages to improve your health throughout the game.
You can easily engage in battles with other players simply by coming upon a player on the map. And even if your first match doesn’t go as planned, you’ll be able to continue watching the rest of the players play out the remainder of the game or remove yourself from that game and join a new game almost immediately.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Fortnite can be a fun alternative to other more violent, third-person shooter games for mature tweens and teens. The game gives kids an opportunity to interact socially while playing, in addition to developing teamwork and strategic skills through gameplay. Parents of younger players should be aware of the chat option within the game, which can be disabled, as well as in-app purchase opportunities throughout gameplay.
Leah Nieman has been speaking to parents and teens about technology, social media, and parenting for the past 10 years. She’s a popular speaker who offers sessions, advice, and resources so parents can raise kids with a healthy perspective of technology and social media. You can find her eBooks Connected: Apps All Parents Should Know, Quick Guide to Parental Controls for Kindle, and Connected: A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat, as well as tips on technology and social media at leahnieman.com.