The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Confessions of a 40-something default skin

I must confess that I’ve finally succumbed to the world of Fortnite.

Two summers back, we finally brought video games back to our home (I’d given them up in my mid-to-late 20s) as our boys were showing increased interest. We started with a used Wii to see how things would go, then picked up a Nintendo Switch last year. My thinking was that if they were going to have this be a part of their lives, I would join them in it so it was something we did together. And Nintendo tends to have games that are less “adult” themed.

It wasn’t long before our eldest son started asking about Fortnite. We held back for quite a few months in our usual Amish fashion (take a wait-and-see approach to new things, albeit with a much shorter timeline than the horse-and-buggy crowd). As our son showed maturity on the topic (i.e. disciplined himself enough to stop asking about it multiple times per day), we let him start playing over the Christmas break. Season 7 for you Fornite aficionados.

Me? I tried it once after his first few weeks. But the chaos and fast game play seemed like a lot of stress I didn’t need. And things stayed that way for months. Until the boys lost the cartridge to FIFA 19 🙄

Once that happened, I slowly started to get into Fortnite. And to enjoy it. Well, some aspects of it at least. A few thoughts that have come to mind in playing the game.

  • We try to limit the exposure to violence in our home. But Fortnite is not bad in this regard. It’s a shooter, yes — but when you eliminate a player, there is no blood or gore. Instead, some flying robot-type-thing pops out and the player’s “projection” is sucked up. I’m not sure if that is correct depiction, but that’s what it feels like. Fortnite is the Candy Crush of first person shooters
  • If there is a danger with this game, it’s addiction. Epic Games is employing a lot of the same tactics services like Facebook and Twitter use. And based on their revenue, they’re benefitting a lot from those tactics
  • There’s an entire culture around the game. The more my two boys played the game, the less I understood what they were talking about. Defaults, sweaty try-hards, mats… there’s an entire vernacular to learn (although it really chaps my backside when they claim a term that has been around for decades came from Fortnite users)
  • And there’s a real sense of community here. My boys will play with friends from school — often in creative mode where you can build a lot and play against only the people invited — but have also made friends with people from all over the place. It’s something to be careful of, but also something that reminds me a little of the early days of Twitter
  • It’s not an easy game. Since I grew up playing games, I’ve tended to be able to beat my kids whenever we play. They could play Mario Kart for two weeks straight, then I’d play one grand prix and blow them away. But that ended with Fortnite — maybe it’s my age and declining faculties, but I find it hard to aim on the move and stressful overall
  • In that vein, I think Epic would do well to make it a little easier for new players. Programmatically get groups of players in similar tiers/levels against each other so someone who’s played less than 10 times does wait 2 minutes for the game to load only to last 30 seconds before getting two pumped from behind by some person who's played since season 2… totally speaking from experience here
  • But it is a lot of fun. As someone who spent a lot of evenings play 4-on-4 Goldeneye with friends, I appreciate a good group shooter. A team rumble can be a little chaotic, a solo match just stresses me out, but overall, it’s still a lot of fun and I find myself wanting to improve my skills

Since I made the decision to be involved with my kids in gaming, I’m glad I got started on this. We have some good times competing to see who can last the longest or get the most eliminations in a match. I'm curious to see how long it sticks.


Well, that turned into a longer list than I had intended. I guess I’m still in the honeymoon phase of the game. But if you're a parent who has been wondering about this game, here's a vote of approval from a fairly cautious dad.

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