The video game Fortnite has captured the imaginations (and the free time) of students in a way that no game has before. However, for youth workers, the game brings up a number of difficult questions and potential concerns.
Fortnite is what is commonly referred to as a “battle royale” style game. One hundred players are dropped onto a cartoonish map and forced to gather supplies including shields, medical supplies, building materials, and of course, weapons. From there, players compete to be the last person standing. What makes Fortnite unique – and possibly all the more addictive – is a highly enjoyable gameplay combined with extreme replay-ability.
Should youth workers embrace a game that asks students to hunt down 99 other people with various sorts of comical (but still real) weaponry? For some, the basic premise of the game is enough to make it off-limits in a youth room. But the fact is, students are playing the game and, as youth workers, we need to think about ways we can talk about and engage with this cultural phenomenon.
Students play Fortnite for community
The game is highly relational, allowing students to join parties with their friends, watch other people play, and meet new people from many places across the world. Again, mileage may vary on how positive that is, but the truth remains: Students are using games such as Fortnite as a way to build and maintain community. Would we rather they did this in the youth room on a Sunday night? Perhaps. But as youth workers, we’re called to discover where students are at and to go to them in those places.
Partner with parents
Parents are probably feeling the Fortnite bug more than you ever will. Take this as a chance to help them create strategies for their teens that allow for a healthy relationship with the game. Give them opportunities to learn more about the game, why it’s taking over, and how it – really – isn’t that different from other fascinations (Fidget spinners? Minecraft? Furbys?) However, respecting the parental position for each student is key. Don’t host a Fortnite-inspired event at the church if your parents aren’t on board. Be a resource!
You don’t have to accept it, but you should know it exists
Wherever you fall on the pros and cons of the game, we are in a season of Fortnite. You don’t have to play it, or even talk about it, but you should understand the reasons why youth are so entranced by this game.
Take some students out for ice cream and talk to them about what makes the game so compelling. Think about ways you can mimic what’s so appealing about the game and look for ways to offer similar moments of community in your ministry program. If you engage your students, you’ll get some key information and – extra bonus! – maybe you’ll even pull them away from the game for a few moments.
Interested in hearing more about Fortnite and what it means to youth ministry workers? Listen in to our Youth Ministry Podcast episode about it here .