Fortnite has become an extremely popular game over the last few months. It’s one of the most discussed video games in recent history. Everywhere you go, someone is playing it, talking about playing it, or watching someone else play it. It’s incredibly popular. It’s being reported that Fortnite has 125 million users. That’s insane! What makes the whole idea of the game interesting is that literally, anyone can play it. It’s not specific to one console, or platform. They really take the idea of cross-platform gaming to the next level. We’ve seen some other games get raked through the coals on this one, so it’s great to see them taking advantage of this feature.
That said, some people are concerned that there is an issue with people playing the game – especially from a psychological perspective. Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor, however, says that this is misplaced, and we shouldn’t worry too much about it. He states:
Over the past year, countless children and adults have tuned into the game Fortnite, a free-to-play battle royale game that allows players to compete with others around the world. The game is fun and features some cartoonish violence, which has led many to worry about whether such games are problematic.
Should parents (and others) be worried about this? Ferguson also states:
As society has consumed more violent video games, youth violence rates have plummeted, not increased, and the release of popular violent games is associated with immediate reductions in crime. We’ve known since a 2002 US Secret Service report that mass shooters consume less not more violent media. And the countries that consume the most video games are among the most peaceful on the planet.
This is very interesting, isn’t it? For years, we’ve heard arguments for things like video games are causing all the violence that we see. Or even rap music, but that’s a topic for another day. Ferguson, however, indicates that this isn’t the case. In fact, he suggests that violence among youths has actually decreased, and not increased. How could that be? Violence begets violence, right? Here’s my favorite thing about what Ferguson has to say:
All the data point in the same direction: the action in Fortnite is nothing to worry about. The American Psychological Association asked policy makers and journalists to stop linking video games to societal violence, given the lack of evidence to support such claims. It’s time to listen.
Fortnite is no more a problem for youth than the Beatles were in 1964. There is a clear history of moral panics regarding new technology dating across the 20th century and before. Few people today think comic books cause homosexuality or that Ozzy Osbourne caused suicide. It is time we learn from history and stop indulging these moral panics that only distract us from real problems in society.
That’s right – Fortnite is no more a problem than the Beatles were back in their day. Funny, isn’t it? But let’s put this into perspective – you can become addicted to anything. Food, drugs, sex, working out or even watching TV. The WHO has indicated that there is such a thing as a “gaming disorder”, which is an actual mental condition. That in itself is worrisome, but the violence aspect isn’t something to get worked up about. I agree with Ferguson that we (as a society) get worked up about things, and it turns into mass panic.
All of that said, just because someone once said something once, doesn’t mean you should believe it. In fact, a co-worker told me this morning that spin class is bad for your back, and I should stop doing it. While my back is a little sore this morning, I don’t think a few hours of aches and pains should prevent me from doing a workout that I enjoy (and that works!). My point is – you can’t believe everything you hear, see or read. Do some research for yourself and make your own decisions.