Fortnite is a dead game

There are strange occurrences from the world of adults to report: Mothers walk around with baggy handbags, in which controllers for the Playstation rattle against each other. So that they can't be used at home. Fathers whisper insecurely to themselves: "May your child too...?" It's about Fortnite - a computer game that is spreading like a virus in children's rooms. It is a topic of conversation in schools, in clubs, at parents' evenings. The game exerts such a strong pull that ten million new users have registered within just two weeks. Why the panic now? The game is free and it is released from the age of twelve - although it is just shooting and rows of fighters are riveted down.

The other day two million players were online at the same time

Parents' fear that their children will lose themselves in virtual worlds, confront them with violence and ultimately become addicted to computers is nothing new. Not even that legal guardians find the most imaginative hiding places for WiFi plugs, controllers, XBox & Co. think up so that the dear little ones are forcibly put offline. But that helps less and less - young people can switch to their smartphones and watch Youtubers over their shoulders, who are playing "Fortnite Battle Royale" in hordes on all channels. Or the children go to their friends and play there. With a total of 40 million downloads worldwide, which the game company Epic Games proudly reports, the probability is quite high that the fictional landscape of Fortnite flickers on the screen in the neighborhood. There was even a record recently. Two million players were online at the same time.

The eye of the storm in the middle of the children's room: The principle of the game is that a hundred players shoot each other until only one is left. At the beginning a battle bus with heroes flies over the island, each player decides himself where he wants to jump off. He looks for weapons, traps and healing drinks himself in houses and chests. The controllable figures use ax and hammer to chop construction materials out of trees and rocks in order to build bridges and defenses. Always on the lookout for other archers, the space is getting smaller and smaller, the tension is getting worse. Blood does not flow: downed enemies disappear in a blue light cone.

Youngsters can play Fortnite alone or with up to three other players, while they chat over a headset. The American Wall Street Journal quotes teachers who say that they only experienced a comparable passion for games among students when it came to the Minecraft computer game. Since the free version of Fortnite has existed, poorer young people are at least no longer excluded. That sounds like gallows humor. Because what has been letting teenagers and their parents juggle for time in front of the screen since July in the USA has been spilling over to Germany since the beginning of the year.

Media educators advise parents to just play along

At the North Rhine-Westphalian initiative "Gambler Advisors", which tests games, media educators are closely following the boom in Fortnite Battle Royale. It's a comic-style shooter version with funny elements. The existing violence against other players is not exaggerated, it is said. "But despite the futuristic setting, there are realistically ajar weapons. The nerve-wracking gameplay could be overwhelming for sensitive young people," says tester Saskia Moes. Another problem is that in-app purchases are possible. With the acquisition of so-called skins, players can change the appearance of the figure or, for example, make them dance a break dance.

That sounds briefly friendlier through the living room than the staccato of machine guns when a sniper has to be quickly taken care of behind the hill. When it gets too loud again, media educators advise concerned parents to penetrate the children's world - and play along.

Clear time limits also help: for eleven to 13-year-olds, the initiative from North Rhine-Westphalia gives 60 minutes a day as a rough guide. And advises: "Don't use games as educational leverage." Computer games should not be used for reward or punishment. Because in this way they unwittingly acquired an even higher value in the lives of children. Instead, you should define this rule together: First your homework, then a break, then play Fortnite.