Is Fortnite the new drug of the century?

By Mohamed Ahamad

The famed Fortnite, a game known by everyone- even those who live under a rock, has been hit with a new wave of criticism. This multiplayer first-person shooter game has garnered attention not for its new update, but for its alleged likeness to drugs.

Parents of two children, aged 10 and 15, in Canada have filed a class action lawsuit against Fortnite according to Techspot, claiming the game has a similar effect to cocaine, releasing dopamine which taps into the brain’s reward centre. Needless to say, it’s pretty addicting. 

Just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that “video game addiction” is a mental health disorder, and this May, it was approved by the World Health Assembly (WHA). What this means is that it will be considered a certified medical diagnosis that will come into effect by 2022. 

With the new update of Fortnite 11 having just been released, the response leading up to the update has been colourful as Fortnite literally ended the game. On Sunday 13th October, Fortnite suspended their servers and destroyed their original map- one they’ve been using for the past four years, meaning that no-one could play the game.

The internet has been in an uproar with the end of Fortnite which resulted in hashtags such as #RIPFortnite and #FortniteBlackout. 

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On Tuesday the 15th of October, two days after servers stopped Fortnite officially rebranded itself calling the new update Fortnite: Chapter 2 which now included:

  • An entirely new world with 13 new locations
  • New water activities (fishing, swimming and more)
  • Upgraded combat mechanics and weapons
  • More medals and rewards
  • More fun with your squad

And with the news of the new updated Fortnite the internet was once again buzzing on twitter with the #FortniteChapter2 tag. 

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Whilst this was all an in-game event it seems that the entire update could be misconstrued as an example of video game addiction by worried parents as Fortnite is trying to make the game so addictive by introducing new updates to keep children interested in the game.

The lawsuit against Fortnite hopes that the game puts on a warning to inform the parents and children how addictive the game is before they start playing. 

However would a warning actually prevent children from playing Fortnite less or do we need stricter regulations to monitor and reduce video game addiction?

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Voice of London has reached out to Fortnite for a comment but they have yet to respond.