Overview Of My Experience Of 'Fortnite' Video Game

For the last several months, Fortnite has dominated popular culture and won the hearts and minds of countless youth and young adults, myself included. From the goofy emotes and cartoon graphics to the intense shootouts, there is a lot to enjoy about this game. At any given time of day or night, I can hop online and be thrown into the arena with ninety-nine other players, in a desperate attempt to loot, shoot, and build my way to victory. In a nerdy yet amusing way, I think the University of Maryland Baltimore County captured the excitement of this game perfectly when they described their upset over No. 1 seed Virginia as “like winning your first game of Fortnite” (Carroll). Best of all, it’s free!

Does that make me a little biased? Maybe. Regardless, when we take an objective look at it, is it really all that good to get swept up with the rest of the world in search of a Victory Royale? You’ve heard of those people who get addicted to video games, locked away in their rooms – never to see the sunlight again. You’ve read up on the studies showing how video games will slow development and almost certainly lead to violence. Granted, the sole purpose of this game is to eliminate all enemies to be the last left alive, but does that really mean all these negatives are true? While in extreme cases (as with anything), addictive and negative tendencies can appear, Fortnite, however, when played in moderation, does not lead to the negative tendencies we often associate with video games; rather, it has the potential to promote comradery among friends while also developing critical thinking and cognition in its players.

I can recall my first win on Fortnite. Three of my friends and I had been working for what seemed like forever to get a win. Finally, everything went just right: A Victory Royale! In no less than a second, our adrenaline was pumping, and we were all shouting with excitement. At the time, it was a momentous achievement, but looking back on it, it was much more. It was four minds working strategically and closely together to achieve a common goal. It was trusting that your teammate would watch your back and you would watch theirs. It was recognizing potential dangers and exercising efficient communication skills to make call-outs. The competitive nature of the game brought the four us of together to achieve something significant to us. In this way, competition is one of the best stimuli for comradery among friends.

Surely this cannot make up for real face-to-face interaction, though, for how can we develop social skills if we seem to isolate ourselves to play a game? Granted, time spent physically interacting with others will be taken away by playing video games. However, this time is still spent socially. For me, Fortnite allows me to spend time with friends from home. From our respective universities, we can get online and spend an hour or so hanging out, just as we would at home. Fortnite is a medium that brings people together, and bridges great distances to allow a user to spend time with people they ordinarily could not. Furthermore, it is important to understand that video games are no more than a leisure activity. It is no different than watching TV or going to the gym in terms of social implications. Instead, for a leisure activity, Fortnite is unique in that it allows its users the opportunity to develop social skills and the capacity to work with others for a common goal.

Additionally, Fortnite allows its users the opportunity to develop cognitively. Players are asked to navigate a large map, and through a tactical use of resources, find themselves to be the last alive. While at the start, we may struggle, but with everything, we adapt and overcome. In the case of Fortnite, players will develop “strategy and anticipation, management of resources, … and spatial reasoning” (Hughes). Players come to be able to quickly analyse situations and react appropriately in a timely manner. One unique feature to Fortnite is its building feature, in which players are able to mould their surroundings as advantageously as possible. This feature especially helps develop players’ cognition. In game, a player can be casually looking through loot one moment and fall under heavy fire the next moment. The only thing keeping this player alive is their reaction time, anticipation of enemy movement, management of building resources, and the spatial reasoning necessary to keep track of enemy players, traps, and more. All of this is developed over time and becomes second nature as cognition improves. This improved cognition has practical, every day uses as well. Players are often “able to keep [better] visual tabs [and better navigate] everyday things” (Hughes). I myself can attest to this. I find that I am more attune to the movements of those around me and have a better sense of where people are around me. Overall, for most players, they will experience heightened cognitive function, especially in areas of spatial awareness and strategic reasoning.

What about children, though, whose brains are still developing, wouldn’t video games hurt their development? While it may seem surprising, studies have shown that video games have similar effects as before, particularly in areas of spatial reasoning. According to Kirkorian, fifth graders who participated in a spatial reasoning game showed significantly improved spatial reasoning skills when compared to fifth graders who participated in an unrelated game. It would seem that Fortnite has great potential to enhance cognition for all ages. Perhaps the greatest issue taken with violent video games is whether or not they nurture violence in their players. Fortnite is obviously centred on violence, as the primary objective is to be the last person left alive. From the satisfaction of a good kill to the terror of hearing a rocket headed your direction, there is no shortage of violent gameplay. In a study by Ferguson and Olson, results conclude that “the association between violent video games and aggression related outcomes … may be minimal.” Rather, most violence seemed to stem from stress, problems at home, or pre-existing mental health conditions, especially in children. In essence, while violent video games draw the attention of a wide population, they are in no way responsible for violent tendencies within that population. Such tendencies would have existed with or without the game.

In conclusion, there is no great moral quandary when it comes to Fortnite. On the contrary, it may even be beneficial for you when played in moderation. The ease with which an individual can socialize and experience comradery with friends is incredible. The common pursuit of a single goal drives players to work together in creative and unique ways. While the looting and shooting aspect of the game doesn’t translate to everyday life, the cognitive functions required to be successful in game are enhanced, and even lead to thriving and practical cognition in day-to-day life. Knowing this, we can confidently hop into the arena, worry free, in our never-ending pursuit of just one more Victory Royale.

16 December 2021
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