Could You Stop Playing?
Some experts worry that too many kids are hooked on Fortnite

Art by carolyn ridsdale; Background: epic games

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The Fight Over Fortnite

Find out why this popular video game is under attack. 

    Last September, the Philadelphia Phillies were on a losing streak. Their first baseman, Carlos Santana, thought he knew why. Players were sneaking into the clubhouse in the middle of games. They were putting down their baseball gloves, picking up game controllers, and playing Fortnite. 

    Santana decided to teach these players a lesson. After his team’s ninth loss in a row, he grabbed a bat. Then he went into the clubhouse and smashed the TV.

    The Philadelphia Phillies are a baseball team. Last September, they were on a losing streak. Carlos Santana, their first baseman, thought he knew why the team was losing. Players went to the clubhouse in the middle of games. They put down their baseball gloves. They picked up game controllers. They played Fortnite.

The team lost its ninth game in a row. So, Santana grabbed a bat. He went into the clubhouse. He smashed the TV.

    The Philadelphia Phillies were on a losing streak last September. Carlos Santana, their first baseman, thought he knew the reason. Players were sneaking into the clubhouse during games. They were putting down their baseball gloves, picking up game controllers, and playing Fortnite.

    After his team’s ninth loss in a row, Santana wanted to teach these players a lesson. He grabbed a bat, went into the clubhouse, and smashed the TV.

Hooked on Games

    In the past two years, Fortnite has taken over the world. Around 250 million people play it. And when they’re not playing, they’re watching gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Ninja says he earned $10 million last year playing Fortnite live online. 

    The rise of Fortnite has some experts worried. They say people are playing too much. Kids sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to play. They spend hundreds of dollars on their parents’ credit cards—just to buy their characters special clothing and tools. 

    Michael Rich is a doctor in Boston. He works with kids who can’t quit Fortnite. “They are not sleeping,” he told the Boston Globe newspaper. “They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities.”

    This spring, fear of Fortnite even reached the British royal family. Prince Harry of England claimed the game was created to be addictive. He said that Fortnite should be banned.

    In the past two years, Fortnite has become very popular. Around 250 million people around the world play it. They also watch gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. He plays Fortnite live online. He says he earned $10 million last year playing the game. 

Some experts are worried about Fortnite. They say people are playing too much. Kids play in the middle of the night. They also use their parents’ credit cards to buy their characters clothing and tools. 

Michael Rich is a doctor. He works with kids who can’t quit Fortnite. “They are not sleeping,” he says. “They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities.”

Prince Harry of England has even commented on Fortnite. He said the game was made to be addictive. He said that it should be banned.

    In the past two years, Fortnite has taken over the world, with about 250 million people playing the game. And when they’re not playing, they’re watching gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who says he earned $10 million last year playing Fortnite live online. 

    The rise of Fortnite is worrisome to some experts. They say people are playing too much: Kids sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to play. And they even spend hundreds of dollars on their parents’ credit cards buying their characters special clothing and tools. 

    Michael Rich, a doctor in Boston, works with kids who can’t quit Fortnite. “They are not sleeping,” he explained to the Boston Globe newspaper. “They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities.”

    This spring, fear of Fortnite even reached the British royal family. Prince Harry of England claimed the game was created to be addictive and said that it should be banned.

Place to Hang Out

    But is Fortnite really that dangerous? It’s not the first teen obsession to worry adults. Parents in the 1950s thought rock ’n’ roll music might turn kids into criminals. 

    And Fortnite may be a lot like rock ’n’ roll. It’s new. It’s scary to many adults. But it’s just another way for teens to do what they’ve always done: hang out with their friends.

    Kurt Squire does research on video games at the University of California, Irvine. He says it’s true that Fortnite can be addictive. But studies show that only 3 percent of gamers are at risk. 

    For the rest, Fortnite is a social activity. When Squire was a kid, he built forts and played war with his friends. Now Fortnite gamers do the same thing online. 

    Squire’s son Walt is a good example. He’s in seventh grade. He likes to play Fortnite with six of his best friends. He talks to them online while they chase enemies through the game’s Haunted Hills. 

    Walt plays Fortnite 15 to 20 hours a week. But he also plays basketball, likes to write, and gets good grades. “It’s not like I’m avoiding real life,” he says. “It’s just a really awesome way to spend time with friends.” 

    Still, experts agree that gamers need to keep their lives in balance. Walt sometimes feels like he’s playing too much. When he does, he stops for a week. 

    And the Phillies? We would never suggest smashing a TV, like Carlos Santana did. But the team’s break from Fortnite might have helped. This season they started off with a winning streak.

    But is Fortnite truly dangerous? This is not the first time that adults have worried about a teen obsession. In the 1950s, parents worried about rock ’n’ roll music. They thought it might turn kids into criminals. 

    In some ways, Fortnite is like rock ’n’ roll. It’s new. It scares many adults. But it’s just a way for teens to hang out with their friends.

    Kurt Squire does research on video games. He says that Fortnite can be addictive. But studies show that only 3 percent of gamers are at risk.

    For other kids, Fortnite is just a fun activity to do with friends. When Squire was a kid, he built forts. He played war with his friends. Now kids do the same thing online. 

    Squire’s son Walt is a good example. He’s in seventh grade. He plays Fortnite with his friends. They talk online while they chase enemies in the game. 

    Walt plays Fortnite 15 to 20 hours a week. But he plays basketball too. He likes to write. He gets good grades. “It’s not like I’m avoiding real life,” he says.

    Still, experts agree that gamers need to find a balance. Sometimes, Walt feels like he’s playing too much. So he stops for a week. 

    And the Phillies? We would never suggest smashing a TV, like Santana did. But the break from Fortnite might have helped. They started this season with a winning streak. 

    But is Fortnite really something to be concerned about? It’s not the first teen obsession to cause alarm among adults. In the 1950s, parents thought rock ’n’ roll music might transform kids into criminals. 

    And Fortnite may be similar to rock ’n’ roll: new and scary to many adults, but ultimately just another way for teens to hang out with their friends.

    Kurt Squire does research on video games at the University of California, Irvine. He acknowledges that Fortnite can be addictive. However, studies show that only 3 percent of gamers are at risk. 

    For everyone else, Fortnite is a social activity. When Squire was a kid, he built forts and played war with his friends. Today, Fortnite gamers do the same thing online. 

    Squire’s son Walt is a perfect example of this. He’s in seventh grade, and he enjoys playing Fortnite with six of his best friends. They communicate online while chasing enemies through the game’s Haunted Hills. 

    Walt plays Fortnite 15 to 20 hours a week, but he also plays basketball, likes to write, and gets good grades. “It’s not like I’m avoiding real life,” he says. “It’s just a really awesome way to spend time with friends.” 

    Still, experts agree that gamers need to maintain balance in their lives. When Walt feels like he’s playing too much, he stops for a week. 

    And the Phillies? We would never recommend smashing a TV, like Carlos Santana did. But the team’s break from Fortnite might have helped—this season they started off with a winning streak!

The Problem With Pinball

Guess what? Fortnite isn’t the first game to make adults fear for America’s kids.

Art by carolyn ridsdale

    It was a cold day in January 1942. Americans were fighting for their lives in World War II. But the mayor of New York City had a different problem on his mind. He wanted to save the city’s kids from a serious menace.

    The mayor ordered dozens of police officers to spread out across town. They burst into candy stores, bowling alleys, and restaurants. What kind of threat were they searching for? It was a game called pinball.

    It was a cold winter day in 1942. Americans were fighting in World War II. But the mayor of New York City was dealing with a different problem. He wanted to save kids from a serious menace.

The mayor sent police officers all over town. They searched restaurants, bowling alleys, and candy stores. What were they looking for? A game called pinball.

    It was a cold day in January 1942. Americans were fighting for their lives in World War II, but the mayor of New York City was focused on a different problem. He wanted to rescue the city’s kids from a serious menace.

    The mayor ordered dozens of police officers to search candy stores, bowling alleys, and restaurants all over town. What kind of threat were they looking for? It was a game called pinball.

A Game of Luck

    Americans started playing pinball in the late 1800s. Back then, the game was simple. Players shot a ball onto a tilted board. The ball rolled down through a set of pegs. It landed in a hole worth points. Or it rolled to the bottom for no score at all. 

    In the 1930s, pinball got more interesting. Machines had lights that flashed. Bells rang when points were scored. The games cost a nickel to play. Some places gave out prizes for high scores. 

    The world was in the middle of a crisis called the Great Depression. Millions of Americans were very poor. They didn’t have jobs. Instead, they had free time—and wanted cheap fun. They found it playing pinball. 

    But as pinball spread, it made enemies everywhere. Some people said pinball players acted like addicts. All they wanted to do was play. 

    Americans began playing pinball in the late 1800s. The game was simple. Players shot a ball onto a tilted board. It dropped into a hole worth points. Or it rolled to the bottom for no points. 

In the 1930s, pinball became more fun. Machines had flashing lights. Bells rang with each point. Some places gave out prizes. The game cost a nickel to play. 

The world was in the middle of the Great Depression. Millions of Americans were poor. They didn’t have jobs. They had free time. And they wanted cheap fun. They found it playing pinball. 

But as pinball spread, it made enemies everywhere. Some people said pinball players acted like addicts. All they wanted to do was play. 

    Americans had been playing pinball since the late 1800s. The game was simple—players shot a ball onto a tilted board, and the ball rolled through a set of pegs. It then either landed in a hole worth points or rolled back to the bottom for no score at all. 

    In the 1930s, ringing bells and flashing lights made pinball more interesting. The games cost a nickel to play, and some places awarded prizes for high scores. 

    At the time, the world was in the middle of a crisis called the Great Depression. Millions of Americans were unemployed and very poor. They had plenty of free time and were looking for inexpensive entertainment. They found it playing pinball. 

    But as pinball grew in popularity, it gained enemies as well. Some people claimed that pinball players acted like addicts. All they wanted to do was play. 

Saving Kids

    The mayor of New York led the fight against pinball. He believed the true victims were kids. Schoolchildren were spending their lunch money on pinball, he said. His police chief even claimed that kids stole money to play. 

    The mayor finally got the city council to make pinball illegal in New York. This ban on pinball lasted until 1976. All in all, police seized 11,000 pinball games. And what did they do with them? 

    They did the same thing Carlos Santana did with that TV. They smashed them!

    The mayor of New York City led the fight against pinball. He said kids were spending their lunch money on it. His police chief said that kids stole money to play. The mayor saw kids as victims.

The city council agreed. They made pinball illegal in New York. It was illegal until 1976. During that time, police seized 11,000 pinball games. What did they do with them? 

They did what Carlos Santana did with that TV. They smashed them!

    The mayor led the fight against pinball in New York City. He believed that kids were the true victims of the game. He said that schoolchildren were spending their lunch money on pinball, and his police chief even claimed that kids stole money to play. 

    The mayor finally convinced the city council to make pinball illegal in New York, and the ban lasted until 1976. In total, police seized 11,000 pinball games. What did they do with them?

    They did the same thing Carlos Santana did with that TV—they smashed them! 

ACTIVITY: 
Compare and Contrast

How are these two games alike in some ways and different in others?

What to do: Complete the sentences below using examples from the text.

What to do: Complete the sentences below using examples from the text.

What to do: Complete the sentences below using examples from the text.

Fortnite is similar to pinball because ___
HINT: Why did some people worry about pinball? Why do experts worry about Fortnite?

Fortnite is similar to pinball because ___
HINT: Why did some people worry about pinball? Why do experts worry about Fortnite?

Fortnite is similar to pinball because ___
HINT: Why did some people worry about pinball? Why do experts worry about Fortnite?

Fortnite is different from pinball because ___
HINT: What kind of game is it? Where do people play?

 

Fortnite is different from pinball because ___
HINT: What kind of game is it? Where do people play?

Fortnite is different from pinball because ___
HINT: What kind of game is it? Where do people play?

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