Is Fortnite Addictive?

by Lori Bajorek - President, National Esports Association

If you have a child over the age of 5, chances are you've heard of Fortnite. My 15 year old introduced it to me a little over a year ago. Like all things my children enjoy I research the heck out of them to see what it is all about. After all, I run an innovative after school program and if my son is into something, chances are others are too.


I noticed that my son played Fortnite a lot. But then again, he played with LEGO a lot when he was 5, He played Minecraft, a lot when he was 8. And he practiced Basketball, a lot when he was 12. So why should I worry about Fortnite? Instead of worrying, I decided to do my own research into the game. I played with him. Watched him play. Talked with kids about Fortnite, learned the dances, learned about Twitch, Ninja, streaming, what video cards are the best, what a mechanical keyboard was...basically I became a Fortnite expert.


As a result of being an educator and working with children who like computer gaming as well as being a Mom of a child who is ranked 308th in the world at Fortnite I get asked the question a lot, "Is your son addicted to Fortnite?" I simply answer no. Some people want me to elaborate, others want to give me advice, others want to argue. But I can speak very clearly about addition. Gaming is not an addiction. Gaming is a choice. My son chooses gaming as his activity of choice, just as when he was younger he chose LEGO and spent every free minute he has building LEGO (I have one of the largest collection of LEGO known to man...but I digress.)


But even with the new twitch streaming Star, Ninja, making over 500,000 a month playing Fortnite, gaming still has a bad reputation. Children spend HOURS on the computer playing Fortnite. Jimmy Kimmel showed kids hitting their parents when the turned off the screen as a joke. Schools ban Fortnite playing during school hours. Fortnite has become the scapegoat for Children hating school. I don't blame Fortnite - they made an awesome game! I love playing it with my students and streaming it. Can I play it for hours? No. I get bored after 3 or games in row. But I get why people like it - it's exciting to play and fun to watch! When I stream my viewers love to "bet" on me and see if I make it in the top 50...or the top 25 or when if I can make it in the top 10! They'd love to see me win, but I am a pacifist so I won't shoot anyone. (The truth is my aim is terrible...and I just like to hide!)


This brings me to the definition of an addiction as stated by Merrian-Webster Dictionary:


Definition of addiction 

1: the quality or state of being addicted

2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal

broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful


The key phrase here is "well-defined physiological systems upon withdrawal." You don't go through withdrawal when your parent turns off your game. You might throw a temper tantrum but you will not have withdrawal symptoms that require hospitalization. My son can be a down right ruthless when I turn off his internet, but I really don't care. Gaming is a privilege not a right. Now, I will say that I am very cognoscente of my sons gaming. I will not shut the internet off during a game. I will wait until he is done. I do not try to talk to him when he is streaming, that's just rude on my part. But when enough is enough, I tell him the internet will be turned off after this game and walk away.


As parents, we have created this digitized child. When they were children, we handed them our cell phones to keep them occupied when we were shopping, or driving, or talking to our friends. We did not teach them how to entertain themselves while being bored. Which leads me to my next blog...Play with a purpose.


Tell me your stories about Fortnite Addictions.