The game Fortnite, already a purveyor of addiction, lack of attention in school and even divorce, has a new incident to put under its belt. Vilified in schools around the world, it now has a new battle to charge through– that of violence. It’s not a new claim about video-games. There has been much speculation on the link between real-world violence and that of virtual violence, and whether that willingness to act violent can be transferred from the virtual to the real. So far, studies seem to suggest that no, people who play violent video-games are NOT more likely to commit violent acts in real life (although, to be fair, there are also some that claim the opposite). However, here we are with a video-game (Fortnite) being accused of “encouraging” a child to violence.
On January 14th, 2019, in a Scotland South Ayrshire school, which can’t be named for legal reasons, a 10-year old child pulled out a knife on the playground. The police were called to the scene, the knife was confiscated and the child is surely facing some serious repercussions (for a child, anyway– even the most mundane punishment can be frightening). And now school administrators and educators are worried that this is the start of a “surge of violent behavior“. Before Christmas, it was even blamed for an increase in swearing at the school, by some of the teachers at that school.
This is on top of people calling for the game to be banned outright because of addiction; considering there are currently about 125 Million players of Fortnite, that would be a massive feat and would make for more than a few unhappy gamers. But while the addiction side of gaming is more than plausible, the link between violence both in and out of the real world is a much more nebulous thing to prove.
A few high-profile games have already weathered this storm, including the likes of the Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty franchises, and both of those properties are bigger than ever. This outrage (warranted or not) will likely be nothing more than an irksome gnat on the flank of a behemoth; it may even increase the game’s popularity when one considers the Streisand Effect.
Luckily, nobody was hurt in the schoolyard incident, and the child who pulled the knife “has been referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration“. In a statement, a council spokesman said that “the safety of everyone attending our schools is always a priority and the incident was dealt with“, and ensured parents that procedures were followed.
Do you think there is a causal link between video-game violence and its counterpart in reality? Let us know in the comments!
Fortnite is available on Playstation 4, X-Box One, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mobile platforms.