Fortnite is, without a doubt, one of the very biggest games in the world right now. If you’ve found yourself sinking hours and hours into it, you’re not alone. The game is as addictive as certain types of drugs, new research has found.
So, where do you fall with regards to Fortnite? As with any hot property, it has its gaggles of fans and it has its detractors. As Kanye West would probably say, given half a chance, there are always haters. Personal feelings aside, though, nobody can deny the impact Fortnite has had on the gaming landscape.
Nobody could have really seen it coming, either. Fortnite as we know it started life as a humble extra mode before the whole battle royale phenomenon became a thing. Now, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and other such titles are lying in the dust in its wake. Schoolkids play Fortnite. Dedicated streamers play it. Professional athletes play it. You just can’t get away from Fortnite. Neither can the partners of players under its spell: as we reported previously, the game has been blamed for causing 200 divorces so far this year.
What is it about the title that makes it so addictive? That’s going to be slightly different for everybody, of course, but all the traditional elements are there: you’re constantly working towards a new mission or achievement, there’s a super-steady stream of updates, the urge to perform better, the good ol’ fashioned 'just one more match' compulsion… it’s a tough habit to break.
A dangerous habit is exactly what it’s been likened to, actually. As Comic Book reports, a new study has cast damning new light on the Fortnite phenomenon. Health experts speaking to ABC 8 News condemned the game, stating that it could “…get in the way of your child’s brain development… the thing about these games is it gets kids’ dopamine systems involved — and it releases addictive chemicals which are very similar to a drug addiction.”
“It literally causes cravings that they can’t live without, and they just get obsessed with it.”
ABC goes on to speak of one particular case, in which a questioned teenager admitted to continuing to play Fortnite as a tornado wreaked havoc in his neighborhood: “only when power lines started coming down did his family members push him off the game and rushed him to shelter.”
Granted, all of this is super concerning, but there are some important caveats to bear in mind. Firstly, Fortnite is far from the sole offender, and this is really nothing new. There have always been similar case studies, from players of MMOs for instance. Secondly, as Comic Book points out, we don’t know who these ‘health experts’ are, or what kind of research they’ve conducted.
This isn’t to say that we’re not looking at a real social issue here, but we do need a little science behind our scare-mongering. After all, this is the gaming industry, which has been subjected to that sort of thing for years.