Fortnite: Skins without the wins

“Uncle Tick has skins, but he doesn’t have the wins.”

Ouch, Josh. That one hurt. While I cannot protest the content of my nephew’s trash talk — I am not an adept player of Fortnite, the online video game sensation with millions of young players all over the world — it still stings a little.

Let me translate my nephew’s well-placed jab for you:

“Skins” refers to the costumes/outfits/armor you can acquire by a) purchasing a “Battle Pass” that gives you access to a variety of costumes you earn by completing challenges as you play the game, or b) simply purchasing them from the Fortnite online store. In both scenarios, a purchase is required, which isn’t asking too much since the game is otherwise free to play. Since skins are acquired by gaining experience in online combat, having them is a sign of prowess in the game. Skins separate the serious players from the “noobs” (new or non-serious players) who wear the default skin that any player can use.

“Wins” refers to winning. In the case of Fortnite, it means you finish first in single, double, or squad matches. I have yet to record a win, though I do have a few top-five finishes.

So yeah. I have a few skins, but no wins.

Fortnite combines a first-person shooter, online cooperative play, and the harvesting and building aspects of a game like Minecraft. Teams of players search for weapons, use a mining tool to gather wood, brick, and steel, and then use those materials to build forts from which they wage battle against other teams. It’s an engaging, exciting game that encourages creativity, strategic thinking, and cooperation.

Of course, like every video game and new media that has come before, parents are wondering if they should be worried, and some non-profit somewhere has issued a warning. Honestly, having played the game myself, parents’ approach to Fortnite should be the same as with any media, especially those with an online social aspect:

  1. Limit your kid’s time playing. Limit your kid’s time doing anything. A healthy balance of activities, including video games, is good.
  2. Monitor their social interactions. Talk to your kids about who they play with online. Follow your instincts if something sounds fishy. You can report players through the game if you run into trouble.
  3. Play with them. Seriously. Play the game with them. You’ll probably be terrible, but you might just have some fun.

I play with my brother-in-law and my nephews. And yes, I have the skins without the wins. I’m not ashamed of that. I just like spending time doing something fun with my family who lives two states away. For me, Fortnite is a great thing.

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