Prince Harry doesn’t like Fortnite. He even suggested that it should be banned in the UK. He views it as a game that’s designed to be addictive, to ensnare children in its digital trap.
I’m not going to side on whether Fortnite is good or not, because I’m still pretty sure I don’t know what it is. Something to do with dancing? It’s unclear and frankly I’m completely happy to just go about my day totally oblivious to it.
But I do know what Pogs are, and that’s going to be my point of comparison.
When I was but a boy, Pogs were the new fad game that all the kids had to play. Everyone had Pogs, people were constantly trying to find increasingly elaborate ways to get better at Pogs. My brother made me a Pog slammer out of solid steel, which I barely got to use before it was stricken from the hallways of the school. No, you cannot play Pogs anymore, said administration, it is a form of gambling and also annoying.
In hindsight, it was a bit of an overreaction. Pogs were just a thing everybody did. It was the fun new game, and you participated because that’s just what the big hobby at the time was. Maybe you didn’t think too hard about it, maybe you just wanted something to do with your friends. But there it was, a game, and a game that was almost immediately killed as schools went into a panic about how it was corrupting our youth.
Much like Fortnite is now. And, as much as I like to ignore Fortnite, for I am a man in my 30s, I do understand what it is for people closer to 13. It’s not a game, really, but it’s not a big addictive child corruptor either. It’s a popular thing you do with your friends. The appeal is not whatever addictive properties the game has, it’s that everyone’s playing it, so you can hop on and have a good time with your buddies.
What concerns me is not that the kids these days have a new popular toy that I don’t understand, it’s that we have another generation of people who decry the very existence of the popular toy in question. Kids just like excuses to do things with their friends. New games, whether in person or in the digital space, get popular because it’s something new to do with your friends.
What bothers me is that this isn’t anything new. It has always been a cycle, a new fun thing starts to catch on, and immediately people start trying to kill it. Why does this happen? I think it’s because we don’t understand it, and don’t want to understand it. It’s new and confusing and reinforces that we’re not young and influential anymore.
We must destroy it, and ensure that the kids are not influenced by things we do not understand. Kids should only ever play tag and go fishing.
In reality, Pogs were fine, a silly game that was a good time while it lasted. Fortnite will be the same thing. Tomorrow’s 30 year olds will remember the good times they had playing Fortnite. And they’ll remember how ridiculous it was when people tried to get it banned outright. And then, some of them will see whatever weird and confusing thing that their kid is into and decide that is horrible and must be banned, for it is completely different from the Fortnite they played.
At the root of it all, kids just want to do something fun with their friends. And honestly, what’s the harm in that?