Ask a Gamer 15: Is Fortnite OK for my 10-year old?

Posted on May 28, 2018

Q: My son is 10 years old and has been asking repeatedly to play Fortnite – is it appropriate for him?

A: Well, this is a great question, because even though Fortnite is not available in Game Truck parties for a number of reasons, it is one of the hottest games around right now especially among tweens and teens. This might be partly to do with the enormous streaming culture of Fortnite: for example, one streamer has had Drake appear on his show more than once.

As always, the question of age-appropriateness and video games is complex. A first stop could be the Australian Classification Board’s rating for the game. Now this is very interesting, because although the online version of the game has it rated as M (advisory) for violence and online interactivity, earlier versions of the game had it as G for ‘general’ or ‘very mild themes’. It should probably be considered as around M though.

There are lots of other sources to help you think about the issue: apart from standard gaming reviews the game is a focus for a lot of discussion in other channels (e.g Forbes have an exploration of some of the points of concern). My top recommendation is to look at a number of different perspectives and approaches on the issue and come to a conclusion for yourself.

The violence issue is likely to cause the main concern for parents. There is no denying the fact that Fortnite is a competitive shooter: that means the object of the game is to run around shooting opponents on a field of play, and many people understandably have strong feelings about that. Having said that, it is less realistic than many games of its type, and is probably even more innocuous than Halo which itself is science-fictioney and rather less confronting than military shooters like Call of Duty. My experience is that many kids are excellent at self-regulating their own behaviour anyway, and they will voluntarily avoid games that they see as too intense or mature for their own experience level.

In addition, though, Fortnite is online-only, meaning that really the only way to play not is against 99 other people in an online game (this is one of the reasons we don’t have it in the Truck). This is partly a question of cost: not only internet bandwidth but also a membership to a service like Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus. So it also depends on whether the child in question has many online safety skills – are they aware of remaining as anonymous as possible online, and being wary of unsafe behaviours from others in the online environment? If your child has fairly open or reasonably moderated access to online tools such as social media already, this would be less of a problem.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for conversation and joint gameplay. So one possibility would be to ask your child why they want to play Fortnite so badly, and if they are aware of any reasons you might be concerned about that. You could watch some streaming together to help moderate the experience, observe their own gameplay initially and ongoing, or even play together with them to get a personal sense of the gameplay experience and their reaction to it. This would show that you are taking their request seriously and are interested in their gaming, and it makes those tricky conversations a little easier.

Ultimately, the decision as to whether Fortnite is appropriate for children at a given age is up to parents themselves. It’s certainly not the most adult game out there, but it may be a bit much for some.

Do you have questions about Fortune in particular or any other video games? Let us know! Email or call Chad on 0433 318 001.

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