Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the history of the medium, enjoyed by children and adults of all ages the world over. As of March 2019, the game boasted 250 million players in total, of which 53% are aged 10-25 across formats. Another interesting statistic is that 15% of school-going players have skipped school to keep playing at some point. That's what the debate surrounding the game's addictiveness is focused on, and it's a discussion that parents and educators are having all over the world.
That's also the context for the comments made by Prince Harry during a visit to the YMCA chapter in London, where he also discussed mental health, danced ballet with children, and called social media more "addictive than drugs and alcohol." The comments have been picked up by numerous outlets in the United Kingdom and the United States, though a video of the exact context of the discussion is nowhere to be found online. It seems to be a predictable string of exaggerations in an effort to raise good PR morale for the British royal family. A more accurate wording of the comments on Fortnite is as follows.
A game like Fortnite for instance may not be so good for children. Parents have got their hands up; they don’t know what to do about it. It’s like waiting for the damage to be done and kids turning up on your doorsteps and families being broken down. Fortnite shouldn’t be allowed. Where is the benefit in having that game in your household? [...] It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.Harry isn't alone in this view. Last year the WHO classified a 'gaming disorder' as a mental condition. The issue has been divisive among mental health professionals, though a significant contingent of professionals argued against the classification in a psychology journal, "Video game addiction: The push to pathologize video games." Not that the games industry is entirely blameless in this matter, as there are numerous examples of companies that develop games to exploit compulsive behavior.
Last year, the Chinese multinational Tencent started pushing for background checks for gamers, as well as limiting gaming time in China, under government pressure. This is a practice that's unlikely to be enforced in the Western world, unless the discourse from the likes of Prince Harry and the WHO takes hold, though that same discourse would never be applied toward television or social media in general.
What do you think of Harry's comments? Is discussion against these views still possible, or is it more likely to cause division among children and parents or gamers and non-gamers? Let us know in the comments below!