Over the last days a class action by some Canadian parents against Fortnite made a lot of noise. The lawsuit, which began in 2019, is now about to end up in court, with Epic Games clearly ready to defend itself. In the documents, presented by the parents, the most famous Battle Royale in the world is accused of creating a sort of addiction, even reaching a rather strong comparison, namely the one with cocaine.
The class action has collected testimonies of many parents, worried about the health of their children. From the hours of play accumulated (such as the 7.700 in less than two years of a child) to the total isolation of the minor, complete with missed showers and loss of appetite. All this is supported by the lawyers who lead the battle against the game, who accuse Epic Games of having designed Fortnite to create addiction. But is it really so or not?
The real numbers of Fortnite
The reality, very often, is decidedly more complex than that. The truth is that Fortnite has misled everyone, especially the parents of younger children. As Repubblica writes, in fact, the game immediately found favor with all the fathers and mothers thanks to the colorful graphics and the absence of real violence. Unlike Call of Duty, for example, there is no blood and the sounds are much less realistic. Everything was obviously designed to wink at the little ones, but we can't blame Epic Games. And perhaps we should also look at the data.
According to BusinessofApps, the average age of Battle Royale players ranges between 18 and 24, where people are of age virtually all over the world. The availability of the game on all existing devices (it also works with the Xbox Cloud, for example, where neither a PC nor a console is needed) has certainly broadened the catchment area, even hitting the little ones, who bewitched give them content creators on YouTube and Twitch have certainly had a way to connect with the game. In itself this is not a problem, but it is obvious that the basis of the class action is certainly missing two elements that exonerate the title.
Being parents: tools of responsibility
Fortnite, Call of Duty, GTA and other video games are tools that do no harm to anyone. Of course, they can always be used for scams or to bully someone, but in the same way, social networks or the comment section of online newspapers can also be used to harm people. What is really missing is discipline, control and of course dialogue. All elements that demonstrate how difficult being a parent is. A dad or a mom must necessarily take on a role in a child's life which is that of an educator, and education itself does not pass only through duties and rights to teach a child. Imposing limits or barriers no longer works as it once did, since dialogue is also (and above all) necessary. And in the class action, what appear to be various flaws in the education imparted to the boys emerge.
Let's start, trivially, from playing time: putting a limit on the maximum number of hours spent in front of the computer without explaining why it doesn't work. We all would like to spend our days doing other things, but there are obligations in life that ultimately reward us (at least a little) and give us the opportunity to pursue our hobbies. For the adult it is work, for the child it could be homework and carrying out small jobs around the house, to educate them on what life will be like. Even for microtransactions (another argument brought up by the class action, with a 10-year-old boy who would have spent over 600 dollars) there is the possibility of dialogue. We are not talking about financial education, but of simple money management: for everything to buy you need to think carefully, otherwise there is the risk that the accounts get out of hand.
Clearly being a parent is much more than all this, but it is clear that the lack of dialogue with children is one of the main problems these days. Even the mere effort of wanting to learn how to play Fortnite (but any other video game) and take the child by the hand along this path could have "saved" the kids, if not all of them at least a part.
Epic Games Responsibilities
However, it would be unfair to unload all the blame on the families. Epic Games, as well as many other publishers, did not create Fortnite with the aim of not making money. And it is clear that predatory mechanics are hidden inside it, which push players to grind (or spend hours and hours) for pure personal pleasure. To remedy all this would also be quite simple and in Spain, for example, the AAMS obliges bookmakers to impose daily or monthly deposit limits for all gambling sites. A similar system in online games would buffer the problem, but what we think is that perhaps a disclaimer and correct information for parents and children would be the best solution. And no, this is not a far-fetched solution: before the launch of Nintendo Switch, the Japanese giant had the correct attitude with the Parental Control integrated into the console.
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