The Geeklish Report: Fortnite

Welcome to The Geeklish Report.

Tonight’s Topic: Fortnite!

As with anything that hits the public consciousness eventually it’s going to generate a little bit of heat and controversy. so tonight ladies, gents and non gender assumed viewers we delve into “Fortnite – Menace to the youth?”

For the uninitiated and possibly leaving underneath a rock, Fortnite: Battle Royale, to use it’s full name is a free to play Battle Royale game  developed by Epic Games

We go live now to Wikipedia for further information:

As a battle royale game, Fortnite Battle Royale features up to 100 players, alone, in duos, or in squads of up to four players, attempting to be the last player alive by killing other players or evading them, while staying within a constantly shrinking safe zone to prevent taking lethal damage from being outside it. Players must scavenge for weapons and armor to gain the upper hand on their opponents. The game adds the construction element from Fortnite; players can break down most objects in the game world to gain resources they can use to build fortifications as part of their strategy. The game features limited cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, personal computer, and mobile versions.

The idea for Fortnite Battle Royale came near the release of Fortnite in mid-2017. Following the early access release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in March 2017 and its rapid growth, Epic Games saw the opportunity to create a battle royale mode out of Fortnite. Originally released as part of the paid Fortnite game, Epic spun out a dedicated version of the game offered as free-to-play funded by microtransactions, sharing in-game currency with the main Fortnite game.

Thanks Wikipedia, so what ghastly horrors has Fortnite unleashed upon our youth for the public consciousness to be wary of? Wikipedia helpfully gives us our first point…micro-transaction!

Play funded by micro-transaction

Micro-transactions have been a source of contention within the gaming community for a number of years, another subset of which you may have heard referred to as “Loot boxes”. Anyone remember Horse armour for Elder Scrolls Oblivion? Everyone kicked up a fuss then, but before you know it, it’s pretty much an accepted practice nowadays. For clarification a micro-transaction is generally considered the purchase of Virtual goods that belong in your gaming world. In Fortnite this is everything from “Skins” that change the look of your character to “emotes” that can make your character dance. Although we’re not here to argue the ethics of micro transactions they do appear to have caused some concern for parents where children have been using saved credit card details to purchase said items without permission.

Here’s a recent example, where a child used saved credit card details to rack up around £700 in charges over 80+ transactions in 3 days. Now we can sit and blame the predatory practices of micro transactions but the bottom line is that YOU are responsible for your financial details. In this instance the father correctly understands that this and aptly says he just wants “to warn” other parents not to leave details accessible on accounts.

The cost of Vbucks
Skins

So what can you do to mitigate the risks?

-Remove your card details from any accounts you let your children play on. I’ve seen my nephew play Fortnite on my PC, the little cherub says “that looks COOL” and promptly clicks like an utter wazzock. No details mitigates this risk.

-Use prepaid cards for consoles like Xbox and PlayStation if you do want to make purchases. Top up an account with credit for purchases with the cards freely available from most retailers. You can even specifically purchase fortnite Vbucks via prepaid cards.

-Read up and enable parental controls. Xbox can be found here. Playstation here and Nintendo here

With no means to buy VBucks, the apple of your eye may open you up to the next pitfall.

Viruses and Malware

As with everything that gains momentum, there are always bad actors hoping to take advantage of the greed/naivety/ignorance etc, of others for their own personal gain.

A recent blog post from Rainway highlights how they stumbled upon a “man in the middle” attack that seems to have gained a lot of traction.  They traced it back to a youtube video that offered “Free Vbucks and aimbot” for fortnite” with this one simple install. A quick google replies absolute hundreds of these things!

Look at all these lovely SCAMS!

 

A quick video watch and a download and you’ve got yourself a compromised system and no free Vbucks or Aimhack. So what can you do?

-Educate your child, explain that these are scams.

– Kids will be kids, some adults too, so lock down any console account as per the above instructions and for any PC set the kid to use a “limited account” that prevents installs. Even if they are tempted to install, having a limited account should stop the installer from running. There are numerous great guides online for this so i’m not going to cover old ground.

Conclusion

So is fortnite the evil that some are making it out to be?

In this humble writers opinion, it’s no worse than any other sensation that hits the mainstream. The horror stories of children going mad buying the latest skins can and should be controlled by good parental control. Accidents happen as per the story listed above but then it’s up to the parent to administer discipline and not for people to clamour to shut it down.  Viruses and malware will always exist and attempt to take advantage by offering a free lunch and sadly kids in the grip of the latest fad aren’t exactly known for their rational thought processes. I’ve seen adults fall for similar scams, many of you likely gave your PC’s the equivalent of syphilis just to download songs via Limeware back in the early days….

But I digress, I’m personally not a huge fan of fortnite but I can see why it’s captured the mood of the young ones. As drink adverts tell us, Enjoy Responsibly.

 

Author: Jon

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