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Fortnite is the hottest game in the world. A viral teenage obsession. In a recent talk to students in Brisbane, the crowd erupted when I mentioned Fortnite. Over 78.3 million people played it in one month alone and a 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf recently won $3 million during the Fortnite: World Cup. The tournament had a $30 million prize pool. .
So teenagers are playing a video game, what’s the big deal? Parents report losing their sons to Fortnite addiction – including one who emailed me that she discovered her son stole her credit cards and spent over $200 on the game.
In the U.K., a 9-year-old girl has been sent to rehab for Fornite addiction, after wetting herself to keep playing. When her parents removed the game, she attacked them.
Should you be concerned about Fornite? And if you are, what can you do about it?
What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?
- Rating: Players aged 12 and up.
- Cost: Free. Battle passes available for purchase to earn extra rewards.
The multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’ version involves up to 100 people playing against each other and is the version your child is probably playing or wanting to play.
It is a shooter game similar to Valorant and PUBG where players are dropped unarmed onto an island. There, they must make their way to ‘houses’ where they find weapons to shoot and kill. The last player standing is deemed the winner.
Unlike many online games where you are ‘respawned’ should you die and are able to continue to play, keeping alive is the difference between winning and losing and means a lot more in Fortnite than in many other shooter games.
Fortnite Addiction Symptoms
Video game addiction is real, and the World Health Organization has officially classified it under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Watch out for these red flags:
Being irritable or moody when they can’t play
Lack of control over gaming. They play because they cannot stop.
Losing interest in other activities (e.g. sports, exercise)
Constantly needing to play more and more (“it’s never enough”)
Being deceptive (e.g. stealing money to buy things in Fortnite)
Jeopardizing school, work, and/or relationships
More red flags to watch out for are available here
And remember that the key difference between a gaming hobby and a gaming problem is the negative impact it has on their life. If gaming is causing problems and they continue to play despite that, it is recommended to seek the help of a professional immediately.
Video Game Addiction Test
The American Psychiatric Association recommends a set of nine questions to screen for a video game addiction. Take our quiz below:
Is Fortnite Designed to Be Addictive?
Fortnite (and video games at large) are designed by people with PhD’s in human psychology. Games use state-of-the-art behavioral psychology to intentionally keep you hooked and increasingly… to spend more money. The gaming industry describes this as making a game “engaging” and “immersive”, but what this really means is that Fortnite addiction is by design and changes the brain.
Watch the video below where Celia Hodent, the former Director of UX (User Experience) for Epic Games, describes the specific techniques a game like Fortnite uses to make their game addictive:
Here is a short list of intentional design features within the game:
- It’s free-to-play which creates a low barrier, especially for kids. This model is incredibly successful for the company as Fortnite has earned over $4 billion with the game.
- Players “level up” within a 10-week season with unique rewards along the way. Every 10 weeks the game changes and you have to restart from the beginning.
- Live map events and map changes maintain hype for the game.
- Daily challenges keep players coming back day-after-day, especially on the weekends where you can earn ‘double points’.
- It contains a limited daily refreshed shop so you are inclined to check it daily. Kids are now being bullied to spend more money if they don’t have a ‘cool character’.
- The game is cartoonish and retro in feel, so parents have fewer concerns over violent content.
With the game’s popularity sky-high, and epic prize money available to be won by the best, parents are now hiring coaches for their sons and daughters in the hopes of them becoming the next esports star.
Common Mistakes Parents Make
Chances are, you’ve already tried countless things to help your loved one:
Here’s what you tried: You removed their devices and turned the game off.
Here’s why it didn’t work: They had an intense tantrum. They were aggressive and may have threatened self-harm. You don’t want them to game, but the opposite leaves you in fear.
Here’s what you tried: You told them games are a waste of their potential.
Here’s why it didn’t work: Gaming is where they feel a sense of accomplishment and often their accomplishments online are a stark contrast to their struggles in the real world.
Whether you’ve made these mistakes or other ones, the key is to start making changes today that will turn this situation around. It is possible for you to get your son back and below you will find practical advice for your family:
Fortnite Addiction Support
Concerned your gamer has a Fortnite addiction and need additional support? We have a video game addiction guide for parents.
It is also recommended to follow these best practices:
Require homework and exercise to be completed first
Remove gaming devices from the bedroom (centralize)
Delete your Epic Games account if necessary
Maintain firm, strong, and consistent boundaries
No tech at the dinner table or during car rides
Devices handed in one hour (or more) before bedtime
Maintain other hobbies and interests
No gaming first thing in the morning
Maintain real-life friends and face-to-face interactions
Get Your Son Back
For a step-by-step process to reclaim your loved one from gaming, get a copy of our practical action guide: Reclaim.
“Reclaim is brilliant. We strongly recommend Reclaim to parents seeking help and solutions for their kids struggling with digital media overuse.”
– Andrew Doan, MD, PhD and Julie Doan, RN
“It’s been three months without games for my son Jack. So far so good.”
– Katrina Kenison, Mother
“We followed the strategies you suggested and tension in our house has lowered considerably.”
– Maria, Mother
“Game Quitters changed everything for me and my teen.”
– Kate, Mother
Fortnite Addiction Rehab
Do you have a severe situation that requires more intensive support?
Below you will find a list of professional services that can help:
- Video Game Addiction Treatment: Here is a list of video game addiction therapists and centers.