First it was MineCraft, Pokemon Go and Battlegrounds chewing up your teen's time morning, noon and night. Now a new online-gaming phenomenon called Fortnite: Battle Royale threatens to sap the attention of your 16-year-old all over again – and if you're child isn't already playing it, there's a big chance they soon will be.
How do we know? Well, the stats don't lie. Since this kill-or-be-killed game was released by Epic Games in September, it's been downloaded 40 million-plus times globally, and the gaming giant is hiring more and more developers to feed their online community new game features each week.
So, what is Fortnite? Is it safe for your kid(s) to be playing? And what can you to do to ensure you're across what they're doing online? This is EVERYTHING you need to know.
What Fortnite is
The game kicks off with 100 players – all real-time people, and often strangers to each other – jumping out of a plane on to an island where they essentially brawl with one another to the death (along with a bunch of zombies) until only one player is left.
It might not display blood and guts when a player is shot or killed, but it is a multi-player shooting game and each player is armed with a pick-axe upon being dropped onto the island.
Getting Hunger Games vibes? Us, too.
In order to protect themselves, and kill others in the process, each player searches the island for hidden weaponry (think crossbows, grenades and guns), as well as collects resources to build shelters to protect themselves from harm.
Like The Hunger Games, as the number of players begins to dwindle throughout the game, Fortnite turns in on itself; the island shrinks, bringing the remaining players together to fight it out.
The last player standing wins.
Why is Fornite so popular?
Anything that's free, bright, cartoon-like and features hilarious costumes is bound to be fun, which is why Fortnite is going viral in the gaming world. Not only that, but Fortnite can be played on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, making it easily accessible and downloadable for, well, everyone.
You have to apply online for an invitation email to play Fortnite from Epicgames.com before being able to download this game. But when you do get that invitation and start playing, players are given weekly feature updates, meaning that the chance of getting bored with the same-old gameplay is slim; you're left not wanting to miss an update.
The dangers of Fortnite for children
According to a spokesperson from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, one of the biggest dangers lies within the fact anyone playing Fortnite is directly connected to hundreds of strangers.
"Fortnite players have direct contact with other players through the chat or voice function and may be exposed to offensive or inappropriate language," they say.
Profane language aside, stranger-danger online in general can lead to further harm extending, but not limited to, your child potentially sharing personal (think financial) details with someone they don't know, as well as putting themselves in an unknowing position to form relationships with online predators.
Want more information about Fortnite and how to keep your kids cyber-safe? Visit the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website: www.esafety.gov.au.