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Fortnite Designed To Addict Young People

Addiction is defined as “the act of devoting or giving up to in practice,” according to Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language.

The phenomenon is understood today as psychological dependence and compulsion, which fits the relationships formed between addictive substances and users well, but the old definition still accurately describes the relationship some gamers form with some video games.

If you’re a parent reading this column, you may be able to empathize with how “Fortnite,” a massively popular online battle royale game, has potentially consumed a large chunk of your child’s free time.

I’ve had several parents come up to me with concerns about their sons or daughters playing too much “Fortnite.” These interactions inspired this specific column, so let’s go through the basic reasons why “Fortnite” is so addicting for adolescents.

YOU CAN GET IT ANYWHERE

As a platform that requires dozens of players to participate in each match for the game to even work, “Fortnite” being available on all modern platforms that play video games makes sense. For parents and guardians, that also means your children can’t escape the game’s allure even if they’re slightly interested. “Fortnite” can be played on Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and computer platforms.

It’s a digital title first and foremost as well, meaning gamers don’t have to go to a store to pick it up. Have the impulse to buy “Fortnite?” Simply log onto your console’s digital store and get it for free.

YES, IT’S FREE, BUT…

“Fortnite” is free to download on all consoles and computers. That means the barrier to entry is practically nonexistent. Children don’t have to get a hold of their parents’ credit cards to pick this game up.

The caveat to being free to play is microtransactions: a trend that has permeated most online multiplayer games these days. In-game purchases tempt players to buy different weapons and costumes for their avatar characters for a few dollars. These items are practically limitless and can rack up serious costs without consumer discipline.

DESIGNED TO NEVER END

More than 250 million people in the world have played or are playing “Fortnite” for a reason. On any given day, developer Epic Games reports that 8.3 million players are active on average.

The style of battle royale is fairly simple. Dozens of players around the world end up on the same map, with the goal to become the last person standing. Death usually comes quick for new players, but it’s also easy to jump back into a match. The urge to keep playing is compounded with the game’s other features, including fort crafting and vehicular traversal of the map.

Buying into the game is further encouraged, adding to the replay value. Avatars are plain-looking by default, with aspects like physique, gender and race randomly generating with each new game.

Players will essentially have to pay in order to have some kind of identity, and with each new season of “Fortnite,” new elements, gameplay styles, costumes and weapons are added, culminating in what is often an addicting experience for children and some adults alike.

While “Fortnite” has a lot to offer, obsession with it or any game can be unhealthy. The repetitive shooting and purchasing new content can be a shallow experience, and there are plenty of other games on the market that offer more intellectually or emotionally stimulating experiences. Games that cost $60 are less likely to rely on the sometimes predatory model of microtransactions and encouraging the player’s urge to never want to stop playing.

Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski

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