*Just Chilling is a series of articles discussing a host of chill activities that you can do to keep yourself entertained during social distancing."
As a former commuter student, online classes have given me a great deal of time to relax and spend time playing PS4. As an avid gamer, I often find myself spending time on PS4 during school vacations and the occasional weekend. Although I play video games more than most, I wouldn’t consider myself truly a gamer, because of my limited interest in intense, competitive gaming. As a casual “gamer” I often find myself logging into games just to talk to my college friends, rather than logging into the game to play it. As a social person, I rely on my time at college to hangout and spend time with my friends. Online classes have forced me to login to my PS4 and virtually hangout with my friends as we play a variety of games. Unlike most people my age, I find FaceTiming my friends just to talk rather bland and uninteresting. I find it much more fun to hangout with my friends with an accompanying activity. In person, that meant watching a movie, a soccer game, a political talk show, or grabbing food. Social distancing has discontinued any kind of activity that required social interaction, which has brought me back to playing Fortnite—a relaxing, casual game that I enjoy with many close friends. With the extreme rise in popularity of eSports as a form of entertainment, as well as the extreme rise of Fortnite in particular, I found it a fitting topic to begin my series of things that are keeping me busy throughout social distancing. The first three topics in the series will be Fortnite, Political Commentary Channels, and Soccer News and Analysis Channels, each a unique facet of my entertainment interests.
Before I discuss Fortnite's popular rise and overall appeal, the rise of the eSports genre must first be unpacked. Yahoo Finance discusses the rise of eSports in their article, “Investing in the World's Fastest Growing Sport.” Throughout the article, writer David Bartosiak Zacks describes how quickly eSports is growing. “Gaming is the fastest-growing form of entertainment in the world. Revenues have been increasing globally at a clip of 9.7 percent per year. Last year, video game revenues totaled $139 billion. By 2022, the global video game market is estimated to be nearly $200 billion.” (1) With the upcoming popularization of virtual reality and augmented reality, the video gaming industry will soon see continued increases in revenue as the general public becomes more interested in this booming industry.
Fortnite has recently been at the forefront of a booming video game industry. A free-to-play battle royale, Fortnite combines casual, relaxing gaming that can also be engaging and interesting. The game launched in July of 2017 and in the fall of the same year, experienced a huge increase in downloads and concurrent people playing.
Matt Brian from Engadget reports, “On January 19, Epic [the game developer] said another five million people had picked up the game, bringing the total figure to 45 million.” (2) Fortnite’s extreme popularity brought it into the mainstream, attracting A-list celebrities and rappers to publicly praise and play the game. Brian reports, “Drake's interest [in Fortnite] started with an Instagram follow, and before long Ninja promised the duo would team up for a Twitch livestream ... Ninja not only buddied up with Drake but also rapper Travis Scott, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kim Dotcom. (2) The Fortnite streamer, Ninja, mentioned in the article, is one of the most popular video game streamers who was at the forefront of Fortnite’s huge boom popularity. Fortnite’s wide appeal comes partly from its cross-platform uniqueness. Cross-platform means that mobile users, PC, XBox, and PS4 players play together. As more and more games adopt this feature, such as Apex Legends and Call of Duty Warzone, the free-to-play battle royale genre continues to find success.
So, why should you care? The reality is that as the video game industry continues to grow, the technologies created by the industry will be in use in nearly every aspect of our lives. Augmented reality is already in wide use by apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, and many professions already use augmented and virtual reality for training. The ramifications of a growing and rich industry are widespread for the entertainment world as a whole. Fortnite was one such example of video games entering the mainstream and being recognizable to the entire public.