My son really wanted an Xbox One last year. So, being the first Christmas after my wife and I separated, I got him one. And it was great. I eventually got one myself for when he visited, and for me to play as well.
As with all things and little kids, though, he wanted more. What he wanted was to play Fortnite because all his friends from school were playing it. I subscribed to Xbox Live and we use a family set up to give him access to play, without access to buy anything. Which, for the uninitiated, there is plenty of stuff to buy. And not even stuff that helps you in the game. Might as well purchase a digital toilet and flush your dollars down it. But I digress.
He was playing and enjoying it. Eventually, I started playing with him. And it has become “our thing.” Part of our daily chats, since he and his sister now live hundreds of miles away, usually involves “shooting at some guys.” And that’s good.
If you haven’t played or don’t live with an 8- to 18-year-old, Fortnite is basically two games. The first is a single-player, sort of first-person shooter where you try to save the world. But I initially liked it because it was way more cartoonish than other shooter games like Call of Duty which is very realistic (and I’m pretty awesome at). The second game is what everyone has been obsessed with for the past year or so. It’s called “Battle Royale.” One hundred players parachute onto this island and search for weapons, gather materials, avoid a poisonous storm and then try to be the last one standing. We usually play duos mode, where the two of us take on 98 others and try to earn a “Victory Royale.”
Which has not happened for us yet.
My son claims it is because I don’t practice enough. Sorry, I have a job and need sleep. Trust me if I had neither, I could become awesome at this game. Also, being old doesn’t help my reflexes against a bunch of Monster Energy drink-fueled kids screaming into their headsets.
I like it, though. I have spent more money than I’m proud to admit on “V-bucks” (the currency of the game) to buy new skins, harvesting tools, gliders, and dances. Oh yeah, there are dances. We were at Great Wolf Lodge this past summer for his birthday and there were gangs of boys (and a few girls) standing under where the giant bucket was about to dump hundreds of gallons of water down onto the floor and anyone standing on that floor doing various dances from Fortnite, most notably flossing.
As my son has gotten more and more into it, he gets more mad when he loses at Fortnite. He throws his controller (hey, those $60 controllers don’t grow on trees, son). Slams his fists on his light-up keyboard. He gets visibly upset, which I see because we sometimes play while Facetiming. Telling him it’s just a game doesn’t help.
I was lucky I was never really obsessed with any one thing that it became all-encompassing. But I saw my brother become so obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons that he lost a full-ride scholarship to one of NYC’s best high schools. He ended up in another high school that my mom had to pay for (no, Niel couldn’t have used a car, but I digress). Apparently, this is very common.
So my relationship with Fortnite is very love/hate. It’s nice to play a video game with my son and share something together. He takes the lead, he creates our battle plan and, the other day when I killed two guys in one round, he was super impressed. But I don’t like that he doesn’t want to do anything else. The other day, he while visiting me he got homesick and spent the entire day “convalescing” in his pajamas in front of his XBox.
Looks like for the time being, we are stuck with this game.