Fortnite. It’s a name that took the world by storm in 2018, a popular online battle royale game that’s explosive popularity has seen it carry relevance into this year.
That relevance was more apparent than ever on Sunday, Oct. 13, when the game shut down for a period of 36 hours. Twitter went ballistic, as hashtags related to the game reached the top of the trending page. As Fortnite has become a huge draw for the esports industry, with thousands of people live streaming their matches and a 16-year-old winning $3 million for his victory in the Fortnite World Cup this year, approximately 400,000 viewers crowded sites such as YouTube and Twitch to figure out what exactly was happening with the game. The world was sent into panic.
That is, seemingly, except for the student population at Chapman University. The Panther spoke to members of Well Played: Gaming at Chapman, a student gaming club on campus, as well as other members of the student body interested in video games. The consensus was indifference. In a poll drawn over Instagram, out of the 70 Chapman students, only three responded that they cared about Fortnite’s shutdown.
Zach Jagoda, a senior computer science major with a minor in game development, is the co-president of Well Played as well as the president of game development club Panther Games. He doesn’t play Fortnite regularly and as such didn’t care much about the topic from a personal standpoint. However, Jagoda did note his interest in the shutdown’s business tactic, which provided a buildup to the game’s now-available Chapter 2.
“That’s one of the best marketing moves we’ve seen in years from a game studio,” Jagoda said. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t know about Fortnite being shut down.”
However, the shutdown and reboot didn’t seem to coerce students into suddenly start playing the game and loving it – it just reminded them it existed. This spike in relevance once again sparked an interesting conversation about how different age groups view Fortnite within the gaming community.
Fortnite is often seen as pandering specifically towards younger generations, especially within a gaming context. Weber Cheng, co-president of Well Played, thought that Fortnite’s awareness of current events made it more popular amongst kids.
“It has memes in it, pop culture references in it, all the Fortnite dances; it naturally caters to a younger audience,” Cheng said.
Jagoda agreed, adding that the look and feel of the game contributes to that reputation.
“You see younger kids doing Fortnite dances all the time,” Jagoda said. “Also, the game itself has more of that cartoonish style.”
When asked what age he would expect the average Fortnite player to be, Cheng admitted with a laugh that he would expect it to be someone younger. However, despite the stigma surrounding Fortnite as just a game for children, Jagoda noted that there is a much broader audience of players.
“There’s always going to be a game within the market where older players will be like, ‘Oh, that’s a kids’ game’ and honestly, I don’t think there’s any way to stop that judgement or that bias from occurring,” Jagoda said. “But the kind of people that are streaming the game aren’t kids, they’re on Twitch, they’re on Mixer – they’re older guys over 20, some even closer to 30 or even in their mid-30s.”
From the poll and popular stigma, it may seem as though college-age students scoff at the idea of playing Fortnite. But given its revived popularity and role in the esports world, it could have a continued influence amongst all ages in the future.
“At the end of the day, there might be a bias, but it is a game for everyone,” Jagoda said.