The world still can’t get enough of Fortnite. However, one mum is particularly concerned with her son’s playing habits – often online for 10 hours a day and known to punch walls when he loses.
Lysa Martin, from London, appeared on ITV’s This Morning, alongside her 16-year-old son Romario, seeking help for his ‘addiction’ to the free-to-play game.
The 45-year-old explained that both Romario and his 10-year-old brother Reyon are constantly on Fortnite, ‘five to six hours after school, straight in, uniform not off, straight on the game’.
Fortnite has truly broken the gaming scene in recent years – and it’s not hard to see why. The base game is free, and it’s appropriate for all ages (while it has guns, there’s no blood).
However, Lysa is concerned about her sons’ 10-hour stints on their consoles – but Romario says it’s the ‘satisfaction’ that keeps him online. However, when he’s playing both FIFA and Fortnite, ‘there’s times where my eyes are red and hurting’.
As it’s an online game, there’s no time where you can’t jump in and find a match. ‘Sometimes I play with my online friends across the world, one is in Dubai, he’s up later than me because of the time difference,’ Romario explained.
Then there’s the age-old problem: if it’s online, it can’t be paused, meaning sessions can be nearly endless.
If it’s time for bed or time for dinner, it’s selective hearing, they don’t hear me. They can’t pause the game because it’s live. So then there’s temper tantrums, the screaming, the shouting, the door slamming. It brings out certain anger, and it’s like ‘wow, a game can actually make you this upset’.
In Romario’s case, ‘it’s the fact that you come so close to winning a game and then stupid little mistakes happen’. ‘In the past, when I was very new, I punched a wall [which left] a hole,’ he said.
However, now he has GCSEs on the horizon, he’s feeling the urge to be ‘more serious’ – so he’s been reducing his gaming time recently. The same cannot be said for his younger brother, who is ‘constantly’ playing.
Romario said: ‘[My brother] is terrible, as soon as I’m home, he’s already in, he’s on it constantly, screaming, he said his WiFi is worse where he is in the room.’ As for whether he’d be willing to compromise and come off the game for a couple of hours a night, he said: ‘I guess I could, on the other hand, [my brother] is more narrow-minded, he sees the game as his happiness at the time.’
Dr Henerietta Bowden-Jones, an addiction specialist, joined the family on the show to discuss their issues – saying she’s dealt with a large number of boys just like Romario (she founded the first ever NHS clinic dedicated to internet gaming addictions).
Dr Bowden-Jones said:
A lot of the population is gaming, and when people say that all young people are addicted to gaming that’s certainly not the case.There are a very small percentage who are displaying what we can say, a loss of control, and negative consequences such as dropping grades at school, we see that a lot.
They will absolutely focus on the game and no longer exhibit their competitiveness within an academic environment. Behavioural addictions can be treated very well, it’s talking therapy, we do not use medication.
There is one silver lining for Lysa – she’s happy they’re indoors and safe, rather than out in the streets. ‘They still get to communicate with their friends; they still have a social life because they all meet up in a room [to play],’ she said.
Having been sucked into the vacuum of Fortnite myself, it’s wise to set a limit for yourself. Similarly to the gambling slogan, ‘when the fun stops, stop’.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.