The Barest of things...
It is with great sadness that I must announce that I have contracted a deadly disease known as Fortnitis. This ailment has developed rapidly and kills me roughly three to five times a day. There is no known cure and I see no end to my daily demise.
For those of you that are not parents of middle school children, I should be clear that I am speaking of Fortnite, a video game that has consumed the minds, and possibly souls, of our nation’s youth. I once believed that adults like myself were immune to such shenanigans but, regretfully, the disease has officially jumped generational boundaries in the Barest house.
I grew up in an era where the first video games were controlled by a joystick with a single button on top. My video game “prime” occurred with the rise of the original Nintendo where you had directional controls, “A” and “B” buttons, and every game was basically the same thing – a two dimensional layout with the main character moving from left to right on the screen. I enjoyed playing but was never that good at any particular game, only ever defeating Contra and Metroid thanks to the existence of cheat codes. Since then, I have never been much of a “gamer,” merely dabbling in a game for a minute here and there on the rarest of occasions. That is, until, I started watching my son play Fortnite.
Thanks to the awesome power of the internet, Fortnite is a battle royal played with other users online – 100 of them to be exact. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic earth where everybody loads up on a flying “battle bus,”, cruises over an island, and skydives down to earth landing in towns with names like Greasy Grove and Snobby Shores. Upon landing, it is a mad dash to collect all the weaponry possible so you can hunt down and murder the other players in the game. Just to complicate things, there is a storm that is slowly consuming the island, with the eye shrinking at regular intervals until the field of play is reduced to a battlefield the size of a postage stamp. Victory is achieved when only one player is still alive, and thus the game ends before you realize that standing in the middle of a deadly storm armed with no shelter and an AR-15 is not a recipe for a long fulfilling life.
In the beginning, I wanted nothing to do with any of it and was simply irritated that my son kept asking me for money that he could spend on a free video game (having the properly upgraded costume is really important to this age bracket, apparently). Eventually I sat down to watch him play and found myself barking super helpful things at him like “Look out!”, “Take the high ground!”, and “Where the hell did that guy come from?” Finally, after several weeks, I asked if he could show me how to play.
It turns out that a 40 year old man that was not all that skilled on Nintendo’s two button controller in his youth, stands nary a chance when competing with kids today. Many of my games last mere moments as I am slaughtered as soon as I hit the ground by another player who landed and equipped themselves with weaponry before I could. Sometimes I land in an isolated enough location that I get to run around and collect stuff before somebody finds and kills me before I even know they are there. Once in a blue moon, I will prevail over another player, usually dying right after as I celebrate the rare achievement. Sometimes I will think I am doing well and forget about that pesky storm until I am killed simply by forgetting where I am on the map.
On two occasions (in 78 total games according to my statistics) I have finished in the Top 5 and that is why I continue to play. To come so close to victory, even if by dumb luck and other player’s missteps, is too tantalizing walk away from, so still I try. So it goes, a handful of times every day, that I sit down to be ruthlessly slaughtered by some kid whose parents forgot how to say “Go play outside once in awhile” or “Read a book for Christ’s sake”.
Please know that I am very appreciative of your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time and hope that I somehow find a way to earn a single victory, so I can walk away from Fortnite once and for all. Also, please consider the well-being of my son who, only days away from his 13thbirthday, may find himself shipped off to boarding school for life simply continuing to point out how bad I am at video games.
Just say no to Fortnitis and fête it be, friends.