BY PETER ELLISON
While many trends and phenomena come and go in the blink of an eye, few recently have been as large or successful as the rise of “Fortnite: Battle Royale” from Epic Games. Released in September 2017, the game has soared in popularity over the past three months, drawing in many high school students.
“Daily I try to play two to three hours,” sophomore Dylan Cornejo says. “On the weekends I grind from, like, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.”
This sentiment is not rare among many Carmel High students who have already participated in the “Fortnite” phenomenon that is 45 million players and growing.
In the game 100 players are dropped onto a desert island filled with structures, tools and weapons. They then must fight to be the last man standing and receive the coveted “Victory Royale!”
While this archetype has existed since Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” in 1924, video game interpretations began to find success with “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” in 2017. Inspired by “PUBG’s” success, Epic Games made their own version, but made a few vital changes directly responsible for its meteoric rise.
The first draw is the price tag. There’s simply no price better than free. Instead, the game makes money by selling in-game cosmetics and other decorative items. These purchases have no impact on in-game ability, allowing all players to fight on a level playing field.
“I think it’s really successful because before not a lot of boys were on, then out of nowhere people started gaming again,” senior David Huh says. “Even people who didn’t even game bought consoles just to play. It changed up the whole scene.”
The second draw is the implementation of a building system reminiscent of another gaming mega-hit: Minecraft. This, combined with “Fortnite’s” more cartoon-inspired art style, allowed the game to draw a much younger and wider audience than more serious titles like PUBG could.
However, “Fortnite” doesn’t have everyone convinced.
“I think ‘Fortnite’s’ kinda corny,” CHS graphic design and photo teacher Holly Lederle says. “I’m an old person, so I like the realistic tone of ‘PUBG’ more than ‘Fortnite.’ It’s a little bit more intense than ‘Fortnite.’”
The third and possibly most important draw is the community and multiplayer aspect of the game that has made the game a hit particularly among groups of friends. The game can be played in three main ways: solo, duos and squads.
“Solo is for the clout, and then squads is just for fun,” Huh clarifies.
One way that “Fortnite” has expanded from the gaming typical audience is by releasing a mobile version of the game in April. Junior Meghan Kou was drawn in partly because of curiosity and partially because of accessibility.
“Mostly I’ve been playing on my phone,” Kou says. “But I’ve been trying to get better at PC because mobile players are known to be trash.”
Students’ enthusiasm for “Fortnite” has bled over into their school work, including the sophomores’ annual poetry competition.
“At the poetry slam, I didn’t really have a poem, but I whipped out a ‘Fortnite’ poem and got a one hundred,” Cornejo says. “It was a standing ovation.”