Fortnite Has to be Addictive Don't You Think?

Published April 7th, 2019 - 12:12 GMT
Teenager playing Fortnite video game (Shutterstock)
Teenager playing Fortnite video game (Shutterstock)

Health professionals have spoken out about the impact playing Fortnite has on children - likening its addictive nature to that of hard drugs.

Played by more than 200 million users, the cartoon multiplayer shooter game is costing children sleep, their school work and causing them to become violent.

The latest instalment of the popular video game Fortnite: Battle Royale is seeing children drop out of social activities like playing sport.


Behavioural specialists say that some children are even battling gaming addiction as a result from constantly playing the game.

Michael Rich, a director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children's Hospital, told the Boston Globe about its impact.

'They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this,' he said.

'We have one kid who destroyed the family car because he thought his parents had locked his device inside,' Mr Rich said. 'He took a hammer to the windshield.'

His account is just one of many that describe an obsession so intense that kids are seeing doctors and therapists to break the game's hold over their children.

In some cases teenagers are losing so much weight because they refuse to stop playing to eat that doctors initially think they have a physical disease.

'One of the parents will get to the point of almost considering a divorce,' Rich Domenico, a therapist with LiveWell Therapy Associates, in the Back Bay told the publication.

'It's similar to working with parents who have a child addicted to drugs.'

Parents fretting over their children spending too much time online isn't new but there are significant factors that make these games harder to stop playing.

Advances in technology has made the games more interactive and more engaging with its flashy colours and the element of social interaction with other players.

'The psychological manipulation stimulates the brain and trains it to 'crave' more, said Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

The game makers also use shady tactics adopted by slot-machine designers like a variable reward schedule, according to Ofir Turel, a professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences at California State University Fullerton.

'Kids are especially vulnerable to this 'variable-reward' mechanism because their brains are still imbalanced,' he explained. 'They have almost fully developed reward processing brain systems but their self-control systems are not yet fully developed.'

The Epic Games Inc. creation is free to play yet it has made at least $1.2 billion (£914 mn) on the sale of the V-Bucks, the in-game currency.

More than 68 per cent of players make in-game purchases like weapons, dance moves, and adornments to personalise their characters.

The average player who makes purchases has spent $84.67, according to a 2018 survey.


This article has been adapted from its original source.     

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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