If you haven’t heard, the latest video game craze is Fortnite Battle Royale. This free multiplayer game can be played on both PC & Mac computers, Xbox, Playstation, and iOS devices. Fortnite is set on an island where a floating bus drops 100 players to gather materials to build fortresses and collect weapons in order to battle each other until the last player is left standing. It’s a combination of Minecraft and Hunger Games and each battle lasts about 20 minutes so the speed of the game is a huge selling point to players. Gamers can also team up in pairs or fours to battle the remaining 96-98 players. The games incorporate a certain level of luck as players happen upon caches of healing potions, defensive tools, and weapons. This aspect is a huge reason the game has become so addictive to players because, as with gambling habits, users think that good fortune is right around the corner and so play continues in hopes to luck upon the spoils.
So, does this game have any impact on your workplace? The demographic of Fortnite players is interesting. According to Fortnite’s designers, Epic Games, about 50% of its players are full-time employees and only 19% are students. This means that, yes, your workplace will most certainly have someone who is playing Fortnite regularly. Part of its lure is the social community that is built when players communicate via headsets or FaceTime during the game. Employees who typically work in a more solitary environment (cubicles, individual offices, etc.) will find value in the entertainment and community of Fortnite. This selling point can also become the tipping point for game addiction. Craving a community of like-minded people, players don’t want to step away from the game for any amount of time. Playing for hours on end is a reality. This can lead to sleep depravation as well as the inability to focus on tasks because the brain has been trained to move rapidly between thoughts and not linger on anything for too long. Muscle fatigue has also become a reality for many players. Boston Red Sox pitcher, David Price, is a great example of this side-effect. Price missed a start against their rivals the New York Yankees because of a mild case of carpal tunnel that may be attributed to his playing Fortnite. David says that Fortnite is not to blame and adds, “If that was the cause of the problem, it started back in 1997 when I got my first PlayStation when I was 12 years old.” Regardless, video gaming can cause problems with your health and your job.
You can help avoid a Fortnite crippled workplace by encouraging your employees to spend time away from a screen. We are all consuming hours of screen time each day as this is the present reality for our American life but, this doesn’t mean that the screens need to consume us. Getting up and moving definitely helps. Exercise groups support the need for movement away from devices and also the desire for community engagement. Another idea is to embrace the game and create a workplace team! Building community as you take down an island of other players could actually fill the need for camaraderie for your employees. Fortnite looks like it’s here to stay so jump off the floating bus and dive in. However, be mindful of this game’s addictive qualities and give your workplace a chance to survive the battle by encouraging social engagement face to face and time away from a screen.