Sometime around November/December the kids slowly started spending more and more time in the basement. I figured they were playing Call of Duty or the new Madden game they got for Hanukkah. Nope. Three hundred dollars in video games for Hanukkah and my kids were playing the game that cost zero. A downloadable XBox game called Fortnite: Battle Royale.
It is customary in my house that when the kids get home from school, homework is first. I don’t give a shit how they spend the rest of their afternoon but homework is done before any social activities (unless there is soccer, basketball practice, etc). In fairness, I have very few rules I am stern about but homework is a priority. The first time my 13 year-old came home from school and declared he only had “reading” to do, I let him off the hook as he ran down the basement stairs and appeared three hours later for dinner. It was at dinnertime when I asked him if he was sure he had no other homework that I found out he did have a tiny bit of science homework.
“Oh really, just a little bit?”
I let it slide and told him the basement was closed until he completed all his work. The eleven-year-old smiled and ran down the stairs to jump on the XBOX. Apparently, you both can’t play Fortnite at the same time. Although that may sound okay in theory, it soon became an absolute disaster. You see, I have been really lucky (so far). My boys rarely fight. Maybe it’s because they are super close in age, maybe it’s because they share a lot of the same interests, maybe it’s because my husband is so tight with his two brothers that he constantly does activities with them as a threesome. Whatever it is, it has worked thus far…until fucking FORTNITE.
My kids have played community based games on XBOX live but this is a different animal. This is the unleavened bread of video games. WHY? They are getting together with their friends, talking on headsets, having multi person conference calls for hours, for gd sakes they are forgetting to bathe. The two of them are fighting over whose turn it is. Wheeling and dealing over which hour they get. The 13-year-old gets 4-5pm, the 11-year-old gets 5-6pm. Gd forbid dinner is ready at 5:45. Can you hear them?
“BUT MOM – I NEED 10 MORE MINUTES.”
“Ohhhhhh excuse me, I have been slaving over your fucking chicken parm for 2 hours. It’s dinnertime.”
But nothing. Not “I need 10 more minutes.” Not “but mom I can’t just leave the game.” NOT “I WOULD RATHER STARVE THAN MISS ONE MINUTE OF FORTNITE.” But this is what it has become. 3 more minutes, mom. 8 more minutes, mom. 15 more minutes, mom. How about you have 3 minutes to get up here or the kitchen is closed. I am waiting for Difus to knock at my door for neglect.
You are probably asking yourself what the hell is this game if you don’t’ already know. Fortnite is a shoot ’em up strategy game which is a combination of Minecraft and Call of Duty. But the addicting aspect to it is the fact that the kids are playing in groups and on teams which requires them to use strategy and, most importantly, to communicate with each other in real-time. This is probably the only redeeming quality of the game. Where gaming used to be this solo activity (picture a kid in a dark basement with an empty box of chips ahoy next to him), it has now become a social activity amongst children (and adult men) breaking down barriers and connecting children from different communities. My kids are playing with their camp friends, school friends, and family friends from neighboring cities. Because they are speaking on the phone (house party) and headsets, they are creating stronger bonds with some kids they rarely see and friends they see all the time.
So, what is the moral of the story people? The moral is don’t spend money on babysitters, throw your kids in the basement, give them enough food to get by, go have yourself a nice dinner or weekend and I can assure you, your children will be just where you left them when you return.
P.S As my son was sprinting to the bathroom to pee, he agreed to proof this but needs 8 more minutes to finish the game…
My basement has literally turned into a Frat House (at least it’s empty water bottles and not beer cans…)
Are your kids playing this???