With the arrival of mid-September, many schools have already gone back into lockdown after opening briefly to disastrous results. Because many of the people who play Fortnite are school aged themselves, the lockdown has been having peculiar effects on Fortnite, as the core audience now has even less to do than they normally would.
Parenting and Fortnite struggle to mix in quarantine
In a recent article by Michelle Hainer at the Washington Post, Hainer talked about her own personal relationship with Fortnite and how it has affected her parenting style.
“I didn’t allow my 9-year-old son to play [Fortnite]. He definitely wasn’t a stranger to time in front of the Xbox, but he (and my husband) preferred games that mimicked his real life interests like NBA 2K20 or RBI Baseball.”
For Hainer, Fortnite was antithetical to the way she wanted to raise her son, and emphasized social behaviors she did not believe were appropriate for a nine year old to learn. To this arrangement, even Fortnite would agree, as the game is rated PEGI-12 and Teen by the ESRB, but nevertheless Hainer’s son’s friends still played the game.
Hainer eventually allowed her son to play, although she admitted to some apprehension about what effect it might have. This story seems to suggest that Fortnite has benefited somewhat from the quarantine, becoming an important social space for school children, now lacking the school, to interact with one another. However, this experience hasn’t been universal.
Fortnite can’t replace physical interaction
For others, Fortnite serves as a poor facsimile of social engagement. As reported by the BBC, school children under quarantine are finding little to do in their limited space, and even the games become stale.
During an interview with the BBC, Katarina, a mother from Cardiff, Wales, talked about her daughter, Ashleigh, and how she was doing during quarantine.
"Up until a couple of days ago, she was getting quite down," said Katrina. "Trying to find things to do - there's no one on Playstation, there's no one on Fortnite - it was just getting to her a bit. She was becoming a bit withdrawn and quieter."
The very thing which lured Hainer’s son into the game, the promise of social interaction, is the same thing which makes Fortnite unappealing to Ashleigh. As children move on or get bored of the game, others will follow to whatever new experience awaits their growing minds.
Fortnite gains some, loses many
It’s too early to tell if this quarantine will drive more and more players to Fortnite, or if overindulging in Fortnite will cause others to move on. Currently, the things affecting Fortnite’s player count and success seem to be company policy more than anything else.
Even over on Twitch, Fortnite has been losing the number of viewers it previously had, and many famous streamers have been moving on. It’s hard to even pinpoint exactly what’s causing this migration away from Fortnite, and it may honestly just be about time.Published 18 Sep 2020, 01:49 IST