Please take note of the following information regarding Fortnite and see our 'Staying Safe Online' document in the Newsletter section for some useful advice for over the Christmas break.
Fortnite: everything you need to know about the online game
The craze for Fortnite, especially its multiplayer standalone mode Fortnite Battle Royale, has exploded recently especially amongst children. So, what do you need to know about the video-game of the moment? Peter Yates answers the important questions.
What is Fortnite and how do you play it?
Fortnite, which is published by Epic games, is a game where players work collaboratively to survive in an open-world environment, involving combat against other characters controlled by the game or other people. Its gameplay involves cartoonish violence and characters that might be disturbing to younger players.
The single-player or co-operative mode (played with friends) involves fighting off zombie-like creatures. Fortnite’s most popular mode is its standalone free-to-play multiplayer platform, Fortnite Battle Royale. This sees up to 100 players enter an online game, competing individually or as part of squads of up to four, to be the last player standing within a constantly decreasing battle arena.
Fortnite requires players to create an account in order to play. Children will be required to give an email address, which they will subsequently have to verify, and a username.
Are there any age restrictions?
Fortnite is rated 12+ by PEGI, Pan European Game Information for its frequent scenes of mild violence, meaning it is deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 12. This rating is simply advisory for parents. As with all games of this type, children younger than 12 are engaging with the game. Therefore, it is important that parents are aware of all the safety concerns around Fortnite and can facilitate safer gameplay for their children.
Multiplayer Gameplay Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is a multiplayer game where, either individually or in squads, players from around the globe pit themselves against each other in last-man-standing-type games involving up to 100 players. It is from this mode that the real safety concerns around Fortnite stem, and especially its unmoderated chat functionality – as players are open to communications, either by voice or on-screen, from anyone they are playing with. As with other games with chat functions, children may be at risk of exposure to inappropriate language, extremism or, in extreme cases, grooming.
What steps can you take to safeguard your child?
If opening account, it is important that they do not create a username that could give away any personal details. There is also no age verification process. Therefore, be aware of the risks if your child has, or wants to, open an account.
Fortnite offers three levels of privacy settings: Public, where anyone can enter your child’s online party; Friends, where only friends can join a party; and Private, which means that no one can enter your child’s party without being invited by the child themselves. Discuss the level appropriate to your child.Fortnite also allows for Voice-Chat to be disabled. Make yourself and your child familiar with the game’s settings and, if you deem it inappropriate, turn Voice-Chat off.
Speak to your child about unwanted contact and tell them what to do if someone speaks to them in a nasty or inappropriate way, or asks them for personal information. Ask them to come to you if they are unsure about unwanted contact or have be exposed to something inappropriate.
How can you report inappropriate contact between my child and another player?
Fortnite offers an in-game feedback tool in the Main Menu of the game to report bad player behaviour. You can also email Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, through their website – reporting any concerns you may have.
You can also seek advice and make a report to CEOP, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, through their online safety centre.
The popularity of Fortnite videos
Fortnite videos and their respective creators have seen an equally large boom in popularity as the game has grown. Ninja, the most popular Fortnite gamer, has 9.1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and organised a stream on the streaming service Twitch with the rapper Drake, which brought in 635,000 live viewers (a world record for viewers to a stream).
The same concerns are present for Fortnite videos as they are for any video on YouTube: essentially, the use of profane language and the discussion of topics which may be age inappropriate for your child.
To avoid this you can turn on YouTube’s restricted mode to block inappropriate content. Alternatively, you can discuss with your child what they are watching and then watch it with them so that you can decide for yourself as to whether it is appropriate for your child or not.
What is 'Strip Fortnite'?
'Strip Fortnite' is a trend which involves a player (almost always male) and a companion (almost always female) playing a game of Fortnite, but for every 'kill' the player gets, the companion must remove one item of clothing. You can read more about this trend in our article focussed on 'Strip Fortnite'where we look into its origin and the associated risks.
In recent weeks, many Fortnite players have reported via social media that their accounts have been taken over. Many have been hit with high charges for games and other items they never bought. The fraudulent payments made by the hackers appear to have been completed using payment details saved on the Fortnite game accounts.