Every generation has a product take over their school. My grade school? Spinjas. Miniature metal figures, shoved into a spring-loaded plunger and when ejected, Spinjas dropped into a concave battle arena. First one to spin out or be knocked out due to the laws of physics lost.
They were stupid.
Fortnite isn’t different, if weirdly violent and happy about it. The loading screen shows a character taking cover, bulbous assault rifle in hand, with a beaming smile on his face as an opponent comes near. No wonder kids enjoy this. Everything is about smash and bash and run and gun. There’s an underlying sense of rebellion. Dropped onto a map, the immediate goal is to break stuff to build stuff, hopefully enough stuff to survive the onslaught of 99 others doing the same. It’s satisfying watching a shovel break through a wall, each whack over-animated to sell impact.
It’s not clear what Fortnite’s world is or why anyone is shooting one another. There’s no personality or description to tell. Combatants get dropped off by a skyward school bus that is floating on balloons and shaky engines. The why and how never come up. The same goes for Spinjas – no one really questioned why those little dudes hated each other.
Despite the assault rifles and shotguns employed to an alarmingly casual degree, Fortnite splashes the screen with Jolly Ranchers-like color. Texture work appears drawn on with marker. Certainly, the aesthetic is delightful if seemingly out of place for such a warzone where 99 people seem ready to die for no real cause. Why bog things down with purpose? Guns, you know? The look is there to appeal to a younger demographic. Clearly, it does. Surrounded by saturation, guns appear normalized.
Fortnite isn’t harmful likely, just pointless. Kids will look back at the era of Fortnite as they will fidget spinners – with an awkward “remember those?” giggle. Nothing here looks built for the long haul of say, Minecraft. Rather, it’s an unexpected commercial accident. Fornite happens to be accessible; that’s key.
It’s pretty stupid too.