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Fortnight is a phenomenom, a game seemingly out of nowwhere having over 250 million users in just over two years. With that comes love, hate and of course legal opportunism in a time of no responsibility. A Canadian law firm is suing Epic Games for creating Fortnite that is “as addictive, and potentially harmful, as cocaine”

Fortnite

Montreal-based law firm Calex Légal, is suing on behalf of two parents, identifies by the initials FN and JZ, and who’s children are players of the game.  According to the lawsuit, playing Fortnite for an extended period leads to the release of dopamine in the brain, and was developed by psychologists to be as addicting as possible, all for the sake of profit gain.

“We dug into it and we realized there was a strong case for it,” Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

More than 250 million players have registered accounts for Fortnight, Epic Games revealed in August. The company said that between June 2018 and March 2019, 125 million new players registered, putting the total at nearly 250 million. For perspective it launches "Fortnite" registered player numbers into the gaming world's most popular games of all time. These names include, Tetris, Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto 5.  One of the reasons Fortnite has exploded in popularity is it is free and available on almost all devices that play video games.

The focus of "Fortnite" and it's popularity is it's online-only multiplayer mode named "Battle Royale" that's endlessly re-playable and since the Battle Royale mode launched in September 2017 it  not only has 250 million users but in just 1.5 years the Fortnite victory dances have crossed into professional sports such as NFL, NBA and the NRL, make it cool for "geek" and "jock" alike.

In 2019 the celebrity affect is huge, when Drake joined up with Tyler "Ninja" Blevins to stream fortnite on Twitch it broke twitch viewing records and the games visibility grew even more. It is even bigger than the users, in addition to the players, 30% of internet users now watch live streams of people playing video games, according to the research firm GlobalWebIndex. This equates to a global audience of just over 1 billion people.

By next year, tech consultancy firm Activate forecasts that 70 million people are expected watch a single esports final, higher than the total for US professional baseball, soccer and hockey finals.  Another factor more than half of those watching esports tournaments are between 16 and 34. Just 10% are between 45 and 54, while over-55s make up a mere 6%. 

There is no doubt Fortnite has become a cultural phenomenon, bringing young people from different regions and religions together and bridging divides. The game has its own stars, language and culture.  The stars are a blend of the best and most interesting players, Importantly just ordinary youth and young adults that most can identify with over social media and online streams.

South Korea’s top League of Legends player, Faker, has a larger following in the country than its biggest professional football star, Son Heung-min, who is currently playing for Tottenham Hotspur. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the most popular professional gamer in the world, with an average 65,000 viewers per online matchand has livestreamed with rapper Drake, and was featured on the cover of the official magazine of US sports channel, ESPN, reportedly earns $500,000 a month. The Guardian

The guardian says that by comparison, the winners of this year’s Wimbledon tennis championship, Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic, received $2.7m, while Tiger Woods earned $2.09m for his win at the US Masters golf tournament.

Game developers are now working to cultivate a pipeline of new “athletes”, modelling itself on the development pipelines of traditional sports leagues. Today more than 125 colleges in the US have esports scholarships, with more than $9m awarded to students since 2017. ,, The Guardian

Perhaps they recognise that, far from threatening the health of future generations, esports can develop many of the same skill sets and capacities as traditional sports – from team-building to leadership, mental strength and cognitive abilities.

The Guardian's gaming reporter makes some excellent points where he offers, while I can appreciate why older people may feel uneasy about the rise of a phenomenon they understand little about and feel excluded from, maybe it’s time to be a bit more open-minded about the potential benefits of esports. Fortnite and Fifa are now talked about in the same way as rugby and football. There’s even an ePremier League and Uefa eChampions League.

Back to the court action in Montreal what the plaintiffs misunderstand is that Fortnite'sr popularity may be about to eclipse traditional sports AND they actually perform a surprisingly similar function, for a younger age group, to the one fulfilled by being at hockey or baseball game for their parents and grandparents. "Because what draws us to these games isn’t the need to feed a compulsion. In most cases, it’s kinship – a very ancient and tribal desire to be part of a group, and one that forms the basis of any team sport. "

It will be interesting how the case against Fortnite plays out, Chartrand told CBC that her firm was contacted by the two parents looking to sue, and is now asking other parents to come forward who are “concerned about their child’s dependence on the game.” Epic Games has 30 days to respond.

Chartrand said that a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling was the basis for the case. The suit, which is still ongoing according to CBC, alleged that tobacco companies failed to warn customers of the dangers associated with smoking.A log bow one would think here but as we know in 2019 it is the era of entitlement and no responsibility.

“Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists — they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible,” Chartrand told CBC. “They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.”

Last year the World Health Organization defined addiction to online gaming as a mental disorder. Gaming disorder is “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

According to the Independent, Fortnite was previously accused of “predatory” gambling techniques, intended to make children spend money on in-app purchases. Epic Games has not yet responded.

With the reference to cocaine, fortnite is legal  and not physically damaging. Addictive perhaps to some, but in many of such cases it is through lack of parents responsibility. One reader suggested perhaps the parents were off watching hockey, drinking beer and wasting time. Not that we know that but perhaps parents should look at the root cause of why their children play so much. As another reader asked, how do they know how addictive coacaine is, its illegal isnt it?

Source: US Today, The Guardian

THe Traders Community Research Desk

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