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What is Fortnite?

Description: Famous for its Battle Royale game, Fortnite has evolved into much more. A collection of games for kids and teens. Battle Royale, LEGO, Rocket Racing, Fortnite Festival, and 500+ user-made game modes. “Fortnite” is much more than ONE game.

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE
Fortnite screenshots throughout from Xbox – Isaac Taher, PYE

Fortnite is available on Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Mac, and the Switch. Fortnite made a huge comeback in 2023 with its “Fortnite OG” campaign, which saw the return of millions of players. Just in time for their big LEGO update, which adds more Fortnite content than ever before.

And remember, predators go where the kids are. Many video games are reaching an era where there is an abundance of kids, teens, and adults all together in the same space.

Thankfully, Fortnite now has parental controls to help keep kids protected. We explain it all below!

Category: Games

Rating: E / 10+ / Teen

“Fortnite” Expands to Become More Like Roblox with Multiple Gaming Experiences

In the winter of 2023, Fortnite began adding more games to their platform, outside of just their Battle Royale game. Similar to Roblox, Fortnite has also begun adding several games that are made by users. As a result, they have completely revamped their main menu, showcasing their large selection of game options.

As of right now, there are four official Fortnite titles, created by Epic Games – Fortnite Battle Royale, LEGO Fortnite, Rocket Racing, and Fortnite Festival. Those games and other modes for them will be shown in Fortnite’s new menu with Epic Games tag in the top left corner.

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

If the “EPIC Games” tag isn’t there, it means the gaming experience was created and approved on Fortnite, but wasn’t made by Epic Games developers. As we have seen in Roblox, this can increase the risk of mature content. Fortnite has a reputation to protect. The risk of mature content, other than the gamified killing, is low. But with now over 500+ games, we want parents to explore the game first and even play some with their kids. With so many new creations being uploaded, it’s impossible to check them all. Also note the age rating found beneath the title:

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

While we aren’t going to do 500+ reviews of each game within Fortnite, we will provide some context for each of the game’s official titles.

What is Fortnite Battle Royale?

This is Epic Games’ original Fortnite mode that most people are familiar with. Rated Teen. 

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Jump into a battle with 100 players and fight for the “#1 Victory!” This can be by yourself, or with a group of up to four players. Wins are displayed on your account, which fuels the desire to keep the number growing. Think of it like digital currency and credibility (“cred”).

The game starts with the players flying in a school bus above an island. You can choose where you want to go and jump out! You start the match with a melee weapon of some kind (depending on the cosmetics you own) and have to find and loot guns, ammo, and other equipment and resources. These games last between 20-25 minutes, which is a big time investment for just one single match! It fuels the “I can’t put it down!” that parents will often struggle against. Because dropping out of games is frowned upon.

A “storm” will close in on the island, moving players to a specific location. As the storm closes in, the remaining players are forced to battle it out! Once there is only 1 player left, they win! If you die at any point, you are eliminated from the match.

Whether you win or lose, you don’t keep any of the items you gather during the match. Forcing you to start from scratch every time. This is a strong hook for some young brains.

Does Fortnite have violence?

While there isn’t gore and blood, you are still collecting rifles, pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers to eliminate your enemy. However, when players are eliminated, they poof into a flash of lights instead of actually “dying.” Opposed to Call of Duty and other “first-person” shooters, Fortnite is a “third-person” shooter – meaning you take the perspective of being above your character (see the differences in the images below, Fortnite on the left, and Call of Duty on the right).

This means you aren’t staring at a gun on the screen as if you were holding it yourself and pointing at people, but you still see your character holding the weapon. It’s not very violent compared to other games, but you are still shooting other players to win.

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

What about all the dancing?

This game offers specific emotions and dances you can perform while playing! It’s good fun but can be used disrespectfully in some situations – which can further the anger your child may experience when playing. More often than not, it’s harmless, but certain movements can look suggestive.

Fortnite loves to include popular culture in gameplay.

Fortnite is famous for including pop culture in their game. Spider-Man, John Wick, Marvel characters, Star Wars, Halo, you name it! They are always adding unique and rather relevant characters and themes into their game for limited amounts of time to keep users engaged.

Can kids interact with others on Fortnite?

Yes, players interact and this is a huge draw to the game. Yes, it’s fun to play by yourself, but you can also team up with a friend, or group of friends to compete as a team. If you don’t have friends to play with, you can make a team with strangers. As teamwork is needed to win these games, your kid might be talking to others online  – and even if they aren’t, the strangers on their team might be talking to them. You can also request to be friends with people and continue playing more games together. Be sure to get those parental controls set and have brutally open discussions with your kids about who they should and shouldn’t be chatting with.

What is LEGO Fortnite?

This is one of the brand-new titles Epic Games has been working on (launched December 2023). Their partnership with LEGO has branched into a whole new game! It has similar elements to Minecraft, but it’s set in the universe of Fortnite. Rated E10+

Fortnite screenshots from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Create a world, then start exploring, crafting, gathering resources, fighting off monsters, petting friendly animals (you can also kill them for additional resources), and defeating bosses for special rewards.

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

After creating a world, you get to choose a few settings to determine the experience. Again, similar to Minecraft, you can customize the experience for survival or a more creative sandbox style where you have all the resources you need to start building! There are a few different world options, and it’s important to note that you can’t go back and change them after making a world.

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

As you can see with the “Friendly Creatures” setting, hovering over each setting describes how it impacts the world. Feel free to go through the options and see what combination would be most fitting for your child and their gaming experience. For younger users, we recommend playing in a Sandbox world, or a Survival world with Enemies, Hunger, Stamina, and Elimination turned off.

To play with others in LEGO Fortnite, you must invite others to join your world. To see the worlds you can join, select “Shared Worlds” before choosing which world to play.

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Once you’re in the game, it looks like great fun running around as a LEGO figure – similar to many LEGO games, but in this case, there are some extra Fortnite-like elements that kids will greatly enjoy. Petting animals gives special rewards which is rather fun and friendly! But be careful, this game can be a time sucker!

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

What is Rocket Racing?

Rocket Racing is Fortnite’s car racing game that mixes elements of a traditional racing game, like Mario Kart or Forza, and combines it with some of the mechanics and appearances of Rocket League (soccer with flying bumper cars). Rated E

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

This game is pretty simple. You can select to race with others online or choose to race privately and select which track you’d like to play. As of right now, it appears that there aren’t any user-made tracks – just the ones created by Epic Games.

This is good, because when players get to make their own digital content, there’s always a handful who find a way to make inappropriate content. Rocket Racing is very casual, racing fun! Like Mario Kart, but with some more flying and boosting!

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

What is Fortnite Festival?

Fortnite Festival is Epic Games’ attempt to recreate classic music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Rated Teen

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Players can form a band, either by inviting friends or by joining random players through matchmaking. Then it’s time to perform! 3 songs will be randomly selected from Epic Games’ current list of playable songs, and then users will have to hit their marks on the beat to earn points and keep the concert going! Note John Wick in the band below, consistent with our note about integrating with current culture!

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

It’s a fun rhythm-based game that showcases a few popular songs from the 90s till now. The following is the list of songs currently available on Fortnite Festival, thanks to RadioTimes for listing all the songs:

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

The teen rating is accurate as some songs are not appropriate for all ages. In some cases, Teens might even be too young. If you let your child play this game, please be sure to look at each song, check out the lyrics, and see if it’s appropriate for your child.

Once you get into the game, there are some short cutscenes of the stage, during this time users can do different “emotes” which are the famous Fortnite dances you have probably seen your kids doing!

Then the track comes up and it’s time to make some music!

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Remember, it’s Brain Against the Game (Not Kid Against Parent). 

With so many games and different options catered to young kids, Fortnite is a powerhouse of dopamine. These games are so fun and can be very addicting. Certain aspects of Fortnite, especially its Battle Royale mode, can simply be too much for some of our younger kids’ brains. And that’s okay!

This phrase, “brain against the game” helps remind us why our kids might get addicted to games and get upset when they have to stop, or when they lose. Because video games are made to keep people playing! And our kid’s brains might not be able to stop themselves from taking the bait.

Fortnite can be very frustrating for some players. In Battle Royale, your kid might spend 20 minutes running around in Fortnite, searching for resources, gathering weapons and ammo, fighting their way to the last player (out of 99 others!) – only to lose at the very end with nothing to show for it. It can be a very upsetting experience. They might even feel like they “wasted” all that time and energy because they didn’t win. These matches can get intense and very competitive, especially once there are only a few players left. And that’s why this game can be so hard to put down.

In LEGO Fortnite, your child may spend hours collecting resources and making the perfect house. If they are playing on Survival with elimination on, they can lose all of their items if they die! Some of their items and resources may have taken hours and hours to collect!

Rocket Racing and Fortnite Festival provide less stressful environments with fewer ways to lose. Sure, you might not finish first when racing, or you might mess up your cool guitar solo, but even when you don’t win, Rocket Racing and Fortnite Festival still feel fun! LEGO Fortnite can function the same way unless you lose some valuable items or your house gets destroyed.

But the battle royale genre fuels a mentality of playing until you win – almost like a slot machine. And once you do finally win, you’re so filled with dopamine, that you just want to win again and again and again… This is why you might hear a request to play “one more game” more than just once! Their brains can’t stop. Fortnite Battle Royale, if left alone with a teen, has a strong potential to become addictive. In June 2018 (one year after Fortnite Battle Royale was released), the World Health Organization listed gaming addiction as a mental health concern for the very first time, recognizing its similarities with substance abuse.

Do a little reading about the amygdala – a tiny but significant part of the limbic system. For some children, theirs is too sensitive for this game. Consider this from Cleveland Clinic:

Your amygdala is a small part of your brain, but it has a big job. It’s a major processing center for emotions. It also links your emotions to many other brain abilities, especially memories, learning, and your senses. When it doesn’t work as it should, it can cause or contribute to disruptive feelings and symptoms.

If your kid gets too upset when they lose, or can’t put it down when they need to, they might not be ready for any of these games. And that’s okay. If they enjoy their time regardless of winning or losing and are willing to stop in the middle of a match or a specific moment, they should be fine playing Fortnite games – these behaviors show if they are in control of the game, or if the game is in control of them. Follow the age ratings and be involved when your child is engaged with such a captivating platform.

Does Fortnite have Parental Controls?

Yes, it does! A positive element about having so many games within one platform is that the parental controls work across all the games. So please use Fortnite’s parental controls! Messaging and in-game chat are two of the biggest risks in Fortnite and you can disable both:

  • In Fortnite, select the 3 lines in the top left of the screen, or hit your start button for gaming consoles.
  • Select “Parental Controls
  • You will need to link your email to the account and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Once you are set up, you can type in a 6-digit passcode to lock settings and enable parental controls.
  • From here, you can disable in-game chat, disable messaging, require a passcode to add friends, and even see a weekly report.

Fortnite screenshot from Xbox - Isaac Taher, PYE

Then go through the controls one at a time, locking them in with a pin. You have options related to mature language in chat, privacy related to gamer names, controlling voice chat, and more.

Fortnite parental controls
From Internet Matters: internetmatters.org
In Game Purchases

Fortnite is free to play, but there are lots of ways to spend money once inside the game. Each season (which lasts about 2-3 months) has its own unique “Battle Pass” which lets users unlock specific cosmetics for their weapons and character during this time. Once a new season starts, you’ll have to buy a new Battle Pass if you want to earn the rewards. (There are free versions of the Battle Pass, but it’s not as cool). You can also select specific items in the store to purchase them individually. Fortnite’s in-game currency is called “V-Bucks” and they’re priced around $10 for 1,000 V-Bucks.

Twitch & YouTube

Many streamers and content creators play Fortnite competitively and for fun, especially with all these new games being released, there is a growth in online Fortnite content. Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, kids love watching Fortnite videos on Twitch and YouTube. But a lot of the channels playing Fortnite are adults who swear or make crude jokes. Pay attention to who your kid is watching. Just because the game is rather clean, doesn’t mean the gamers are.

The Bottom Line: is Fortnite safe for Kids?

Here are five ways for you to evaluate Fortnite with your child:

  1. Play it yourself. And play it WITH your child! Yes, this is a condition of them being able to play it. You must experience it for yourself. Then decide if your child is ready.
  2. Parents, please hear me – some, maybe many young brains simply aren’t ready for the ridiculously addictive nature of Fortnite. The combination of friends, winning, and the digital credibility that comes from winning – it’s too much for some young brains (and its amygdala).
  3. Test their “adhesion” to the game by intentionally interrupting gameplay. And then see what happens. “Interrupting your kids” is one of the techniques we teach parents, explained further in this video (Instagram). Let them know that no matter when you need them, you won’t abuse this technique, but if you need them, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the middle of a match. They leave the game and do what you ask. Or there’s a consequence. And if they do this well, then they can continue, because they’ve proven the game doesn’t control them.
  4. If you allow it, be sure to clearly define who is and isn’t a “friend” for gameplay. The definition of “friend” to an 11-year-old in 2023 is vastly different than what you think about from your childhood. Get those parental controls set up exactly how you want them (explained above).
  5. Ensure your child knows that wherever they’re playing the game, the device belongs to you, and that you can check their phone anytime (our “parent-led” ownership principle).
  6. Be sure your child knows exactly what to do if anything in the game makes them uncomfortable. Because they can always land safely and softly with you.

It’s refreshing to find a fairly clean game, but as shown by our list, Fortnite should not be considered lightly. Intentional, engaged, and informed parenting for the win!

What if I have more questions? How can I stay up to date?

Two actions you can take!

  1. Subscribe to our tech trends newsletter, the PYE Download. About every 3 weeks, we’ll share what’s new, what the PYE team is up to, and a message from Chris.
  2. Ask your questions in our private parent community called The Table! It’s not another Facebook group. No ads, no algorithms, no asterisks. Just honest, critical conversations and deep learning! For parents who want to “go slow” together. Become a member today!

The Table - Private Community from PYE

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