As a famously resistant-to-technology Mama without a working TV or cable or gaming console in my home, the increase in video game desire and intensity in my children’s lives has been a real challenge. Whereas my boys play video games at their dad’s house, at mine, they have some screen time on their tablets, but I don’t allow extended video game time.
I’m told that this video game “Fortnite” is a very big deal with the kids these days. I was not surprised to hear that my kids knew all about it. I decided to get educated by my 9-and-a-half-year-old. Not surprisingly, my 12-and-a-half-year-old chimed in as well.
In my interview, I learned all about what “Fortnite” is, what it entails, why killing is such a stressful part of the game, and how my kids think your kids should play it. I’m starting to wonder how long I can hold onto not having a gaming console but after this interview, I vote for a little bit longer!
Read and enjoy my kids’ personalities, which come to life very nicely when talking about limits, rough language, and the boundaries our family has around video games. Fred was asking all week when his interview was. And he put on this persona for the interview. So serious. Like a little reporter. So read it knowing he has his chunky hands folded in front of him like he was in a CIA office. I tried to get him to talk about how the first time he lost he had a total fit and tantrum. His dad took it away after that.
Mama: State your name for the record.
Fred: Fredrick Heschel Bialik Stone.
Mama: Fred, I’m told that you know something about a game called Fortnite.
Fred: Yes, I do. The full name is Fortnite Battle Royale. There’s 100 people and you drop down on an island with only a pick ax. You try to survive and last one standing wins–
Mama: Okay, wait. This is a video game. So who are these 100 people?
Fred: People across the globe.
Mama: Oh, so this is a game you play with other people?
Mama: You don’t know them.
Mama: But you get to interact with them online.
Mama: This is why I don’t like this game.
(Fred rolls his eyes hard.)
Miles (the elder from the couch): Wait, one thing. You don’t have to interact with them. Fred doesn’t.
Mama: I have a feeling that both of you are anticipating that after this interview, I’m not going to let you play Fortnite. Are you afraid of that?
Miles: I don’t play Fortnite to be honest. I don’t like it.
(I roll my eyes hard.)
Mama: Okay, Fred. Tell me what happens with Fortnite.
Fred: You log into this game. There’s a choice: You can do the Save The World, where you fight monsters and you try to survive. Or there’s Battle Royale, and that’s when you just fight with other people. Then you can also buy skins. They just got a new thing where in one week, people bought with real money like $2,000 million.
Mama: Do you have to pay to play this game?
Mama: You don’t use money when you play games. That’s a family rule, right?
Mama: Back to Fortnite: What do you do in this game?
Fred: You build things. Towers.
Mama: How do you build them?
Fred: It matters [sic] what you’re playing on. You basically just build structures.
(This is an adorableness both of my boys still maintain: “Depends” has been replaced by them both as “matters,” and I can’t bear to correct it.)
Mama: So you’re building structures on a virtual island.
Fred: Yeah, but it’s like a giant island. And oh: You can find weapons from this map. There’s treasure chests. You find them from the map.
Mama: Treasures. Weapons. From a map. Let’s get back to the strangers you’re potentially talking to and virtually run into. What are these other people that you, in theory, interact with? Can you interact with them? I don’t get it.
Fred: Yeah. With “Comms.”
Mama: What are comms?
Fred: Comms is basically a thing where you put on your headset and then you can talk to the whole game.
Mama: Comms is short for communication.
Mama: Why is Miles saying that you don’t do that?
Fred: Dada doesn’t let me.
(This just got good.)
Mama: Oh, dada doesn’t let you. So it’s still possible to play the game without communicating with other people?
Mama: Why do you think dada and mama don’t want you to do that?
Fred: Because I’m younger and who knows who’s who in the world.
Mama: Like they could say things that are prickly. [Our family word for “bad” since there are no bad words, only bad intentions!]
Fred: Yeah. Back to Fortnite.
Mama: Okay. Back to Fortnite. Why do you think everybody is so crazy about this game?
Fred: I don’t know. I think it’s because people … It’s basically made for all ages and there’s no blood. So when you shoot someone–
Mama: Why are you shooting people if you’re trying to build something on an island?
Fred: Building is for protection so no one shoots you.
Mama: But who’s trying to shoot you?
Mama: (Wants to scream: WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT TO SHOOT MY BABY? Instead she says:) Wow. Okay. So it’s not just a building game, it’s a battle game.
Miles: (Trying to get on my good side and acts like he’s too mature and smart for this game his brother loves:) Building is a small part of the shooting aspect.
Mama: I see. Do you shoot to virtually kill people?
Fred: Virtually kill people, yes.
Mama: And you kill each other…so you can be eliminated from the game?
Fred: By getting shot. Yes.
Mama: But it’s not bloody.
Fred: No. When you shoot someone and kill them, they get knocked down; then if you shoot them a couple times again, they die. And there’s no blood and a little droid is above where they died and it’s like a hologram of blue. There’s items scattered around, what they had.
Mama: Is this the game where you once made it near the end?
Fred: Yeah. You can also be eliminated by something called the Eye of Storm. It’s a literal circle–like a storm–that closes in and you have to get into the safe zone and that’s where the storm stops. But it happens again and then there’s another safe zone–even tinier.
Mama: How long does this game take to play?
Fred: Matters who’s good or who’s bad. It could take like one minute or an hour. I say like 30 minutes. But the map sort of gets smaller every couple minutes. If you’re outside the safe zone, you don’t automatically die. They start bringing your health down.
Mama: Oh, dear. Here’s what I’m feeling right now as you’re telling me about this game: I feel stressed out.
Fred: It’s very stressful. Maybe it’s because I’m too young for this part of it?
Mama: What happened the time that you got really close?
Fred: I died. They just went pewpewpewpew and then I died.
Mama: Dada said you got super upset.
Mama: Do you not want to talk about that for Grok Nation?
Mama: Okay. If you had to give advice to someone with maybe a sensitive 9 and a half year old, what would you say about Fortnite?
Fred: Overall, it’s a very fun game.
Mama: All right. Thank you for this interview, Fred. This was very interesting.
Fred: You’re welcome.