Millions of teenagers have turned this unheralded video game into a cultural giant – and even parents are relaxed about it
Fortnite, a video game released without much fanfare last July, is now arguably the most popular diversion in the world; a cultural juggernaut on a par with Star Wars, or Minecraft – though one now also attracting players with a $100m prize fund. Playgrounds jostle as children showboat dance moves copied from the game, while parents tip from mournful anxiety about screentime quotas, to blessed relief that here is a game that encourages teamwork, compromise and communication between their otherwise monosyllabic adolescents.
Fortnite borrows the premise of the Japanese novel Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, in which contestants are sent to an island where they must scavenge and fight until only one remains. In Fortnite you are dropped along with 99 other players from a flying bus, and parachute on to a candy-coloured island. Every few minutes a lethal electrical storm draws closer, herding survivors toward a final standoff.