Mental Health Blog

Why Your Child Cannot Let Go of Fortnite

Posted by Alan Godfrey on


If you have any interaction with a teenager, pre-teen, or are one then you’ve seen the Fortnite explosion over the last several months. This isn’t just happening by chance, or because Fortnite is “just that much more fun,” but for very specific reasons. The game developers EpicGames, have done something incredibly unique in their formula to get the brain hooked on Fortnite. This is for anyone playing the game, or with friend or family member playing. Most of the summary of this information comes from The Game Theorists, whose video link can be found below.

A simplified version of what’s going on in the brain to keep playing are these three categories:

1. A unique sense of linear progression.

Linear progression creates an anticipation for reward by an experience bar, since our brains like completion and progress, this leaves our brains wanting more. With the sense that you are never quite done, based on the psychological effects such as the the Zeigarnik Effect and others, humans are more likely to remember unfinished tasks. And that’s not all…

2. Making the player constantly wanting to play “one more turn”

More commonly known as getting someone to “be in the zone,” and almost every game, sports, television, etc implore this to trick the brain to become conditioned subconsciously. The rewards in Fortnite are higher than many other video games, and invest the player into continuing forward, commonly called Operant Conditioning by psychologist BF Skinner. With random rewards all over the game throughout each level and unknown dopamine hits into the brain, it’s much more subtle than the classic gambling analogy that could be drawn with slot machines. And there’s still more…

3. Making the player feel above average

Fortnite separates the player base into groups based on ability to compete against differently skilled players, thereby getting more wins and feel like they are winning or breaking even. When you compare yourself to others, you feel like you’ve done better than others around you. And what teenager doesn’t want to feel good about themselves?

All of this together ties the brain into coming back to Fortnite, and many other online activities, which other online companies are learning and going to employ in the future. Either this helps give the best experience with an activity, or it’s how companies like Fortnite try to pull people in on a subconscious level. It’s my opinion that the work done by my source, The Game Theroists, is accurate and coincides with my own research as well, and it is now up to you what you want to do with this information for yourself or child, I thank you for your time and hope this informs your life for the better.

The Game Theorist full video:

Alan Godfrey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #102925.


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